Take a journey through the evolution of communication

Human communication was revolutionised with language and speech originating approximately 500,000 years ago. This eventually resulted in the creation of new forms of communication, improving both the range at which people could communicate and the longevity of the expressed information. Brace yourself, for you will be taken on a journey through the evolution of communication, all while learning how some modes communication through history led to the development of web conferencing software that exists today.

Petroglyphs: 10,000 BC

Picture this, the year is 10,000 BC and you are standing on a dry terrain of the Draa River valley in Morocco. Looking around you notice a vast amount of rocks, yet these are not just your average plain rocks. From a distance, you can see that the rock surface is covered with various carvings. As you approach closer, you realise that these carvings are actually images. These are called Petroglyphs. Petroglyphs are thought to be astronomical markers, maps, and other forms of symbolic communication. Many even believe that these carvings represent a form of pre-writing or an example of a symbolic or ritual language. Nevertheless, no matter what the images represent, one thing remains clear – the advancement in the history of communications came with the production of these rock carvings.

Petroglyphs Example Evolution of Communication
Example of a Petroglyph

Pictograms: 9,000 BC

Now skipping forward, you are in 9,000 BC. The hot dry air fills your lungs as you now find yourself on the outskirts of an ancient Egyptian civilisation. You once again spot large rocks with engravings yet, upon closer inspection, you notice that they are different. More coherent than the Petroglyphs you’ve seen earlier. These rock engravings are the early forms of Pictograms. A pictogram is a symbol that represents a concept, activity or an event using an illustration. Pictography is a form of proto-writing where ideas are transmitted through drawing. Pictographs were the next step in the evolution of communication. The most important difference between petroglyphs and pictograms being that petroglyphs are simply showing an event, but pictograms are telling a story about the event, thus they can, for example, be ordered chronologically.

Pictograms Example Evolution of Communication
Example of a Pictogram

Hieroglyphs: 2,000 BC

Suddenly, you are standing in the same location but the year is 2,000 BC. You spot a group of Ancient Egyptians carving something on a rock in the corner of a large marketplace. At first glance, it is difficult for you to clearly decipher what exactly they are carving but you slowly begin to realise that you are faced with Egyptian Hieroglyphs. Otherwise known as an early example of the alphabet we know today. Egyptians had a set of 22 hieroglyphs to represent syllables that begin with a single consonant of their language. These were used as pronunciation guides to write grammatical inflexions, and, later, to transcribe foreign names. However, although seemingly alphabetic in nature, the original Egyptian hieroglyphs were not a well-established system and was not used to encode Egyptian speech.

Hieroglyphs Evolution of Communication
Example of Hieroglyphs

Typewriter: 1874

Leaping closer to the present day, you are in the year 1874. You notice that most US shops are promoting the new top-notch technological advancement- the Remington No.1 Typewriter. You are in the year when the first commercially successful typewriter was introduced to the world. The original model looked like a cross between a piano and a kitchen table. A typewriter is a mechanical or electromechanical machine for writing characters. Although they did not become common until later, their creation signified a new step for communication and relaying of spoken language. The typewriter quickly became an indispensable tool for practically all forms of language and correspondence. It was predominantly used by professionals in offices, and for business correspondence in private homes.

Evolution of Communication Typewriter

Internet: 1969

You are now in the year 1969, when the first ARPANET link was established between the University of California, Los Angeles and the Stanford Research Institute at 22:30 hours on October 29. This historical moment only consisted of a short conversation which went like this:

We typed the L and we asked on the phone,

“Do you see the L?”

“Yes, we see the L,” came the response.

We typed the O, and we asked, “Do you see the O?”

“Yes, we see the O”

Then we typed the G, and the system crashed

Watching this conversation might have seemed relatively insignificant, yet it had indisputable consequences on communication today. This was one instance of a network that led to the creation of the Internet.

Phone Call: 1973

Now imagine being in 1973, in Manhattan standing on the Sixth Avenue, between the 53rd and 54th streets. You might be thinking ‘why am I here?’, standing outside on this abnormally cold April day when you notice a man standing nearby. You glance over and see that he is holding a device that resembles the modern mobile phone, just five times bigger in size. Curiosity overcomes you and you ask him his name. Turns out it is Martin Cooper, a senior engineer at Motorola, making the first mobile phone call to a rival telecommunications company, informing them he was speaking via a mobile phone. This is one of those moments when time stops and you realise that you have just witnessed an iconic moment in history that forever revolutionised human communication.

Evolution of Communication First Call
Martin Cooper making the first ever phone call

Web conferencing: Today

Since the day on April 20, 1964, when the world stood still as AT&T demonstrated the first real video conferencing device called the Picturephone, and the first transcontinental video call was made, the world has never been the same (Read more about the history of web conferencing).

Bringing you back to 2017, where communication over distance is no longer considered as a novelty. Specifically, technological developments within web conferencing software have allowed people within business environments to travel the world without leaving their desks. Web conferencing offers great options for business growth as people within offices are able to connect, communicate and collaborate with one another in real-time. Meaning, meetings are now interactive and members of a team no longer have to be limited to a local office. Therefore, physical location plays a relatively minor role in the selection of a team. Moreover, the free screen and file sharing capabilities afforded by web conferencing tools such as Drum make the process of sharing information incredibly efficient. Showing that today, more than ever, communication and collaboration has reached a level of efficiency like never before.

As we look back through the years of communication and collaboration from way before our time, we can see how things have evolved and changed. Not only in the way in which we communicate or even relay information but also in the way in which we work together to achieve greater results. The history of communication we provided is relatively short, yet it depicts some major highlights that have occurred in order to make the world what it is today. The world in which communication can occur between continents at a click of a button.

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