Light Bulb and Communications

Communication History Snapshot

In Industry History by

Knight Enterprises deals in communication infrastructure. From the installation of large lines at the pole to connecting residential homes to the internet, we are on the construction front lines of the business. People rely on this infrastructure. They rely on it to connect to the internet, to check out the news on TV and to be able to stay in touch with relatives via their phone service. Knight Enterprises helps build communications between people, places and things, and knowing the history as well as the evolution of modern day communications helps us do our job more efficiently.

At the start, there was art

The dawn of mankind brought with it a parietal art (cave painting) form of communication. Paint created from crushed up insects, water and different types of dirt were the primary ways to create these paintings that gave us perspective into early human life. These paintings can be dated back 40,000 years. During these years, scientists propose that natural human to human communication came from hand signals as well as possible limited speech patterns made up of consonants and vowels. Cave painting communication was a way of documenting events (how our modern day internet stores data) while hand signals and limited speech made up day to day conversations between individuals (how we utilize email, social media and other forms of communication for our daily operations).

Wild flowers of Palestine. Papyrus at Lake Merom - Library of Congress

Wild flowers of Palestine. Papyrus at Lake Merom – Library of Congress

Over the years, communication evolved as the human species did. Our ancestors developed a vocal tract capable of multiple speech patterns that helped in the formation of stylized languages, and many different languages now exist today due to natural boundaries that separated civilizations. Written forms of this communication became prevalent in 3,000 BC with the use of papyrus – a type of paper made from the papyrus plant. This form of paper dominated the documentation industry till more modern forms of paper were developed in 100AD. Heliographs – a device that used sunlight and mirrors to send messages – and couriers were the first form of communication over large distances.

Communication redefined with the printing press

Depiction of Gutenberg's Printing Press, 1450 AD. Photo hosted by

Depiction of Gutenberg’s Printing Press, 1450 AD. Photo hosted by

From there communications evolution spiked. Pens, pencils and the printing press were developed between 1,000 AD and 1,500 AD. The printing press, being the most notable, truly revolutionized how civilizations communicated. It brought on the ability to print books in a mass quantity virtually eliminating the need for handwritten work. Lay people were now able to purchase books at fractions of the cost which helped spread information and opened up the world to a time period known as the Enlightenment. Some of the world’s greatest mathematicians and philosophers evolved out of the ease of information that the printing press created.

The printing press marked one of the biggest social advancements for communication in history. Many differing forms of communication were created in the years following it such as the typewriter, telephone and telegraph. In 1896, the radio hit the scene where it brought entertainment via radio waves into the homes of thousands. In 1927, television put picture and audio together. In the 1960’s, computers began to make large headway into the communications sector with the advancement of text editors and storage.

Internet, the next step into instant communication

In 1969, though the world did not know it at the time, the next big evolution in communication was being created behind the closed doors of the United States Department of Defense. ARPANET – developed by the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) – was developed to assist in military communications. In the early 1980’s, ARPANET fell into the hands of major universities where super computing was often utilized. ARPANET then took a new form known as NSFNET (National Science Foundation) where the country’s leading scientists used it to collaborate on projects. The internet was finally commercialized for public use in the 1990’s.

For obvious reasons, the internet redefined how we communicate. It brought on email, forums, social media, chat rooms, blogs, podcasts, video on demand, instant messaging and online shopping. It gives people with little means the ability to educate themselves and pursue unlimited possibility. Currently, it is the backbone of our communications structure, and connecting as many people to the capabilities of that structure is one of our goals here at Knight Enterprises. It is also a significant reason in why we do what we do.

When you look around and you see pole after pole of wiring, take a moment and think about how far civilization has gone from writing on cave walls. Our ability to communicate almost instantly has led to some of the greatest advancement in technology this world has seen, and we want to be a part of that advancement. Putting up the infrastructure to make this type of communication possible is costly, time consuming and difficult. But we proudly do it because of where we once were as a society, and for the endless possibilities of where we might end up tomorrow.