The Top 10 Events in the History of Mass Communication.
Created by Fantastree on Dec 3, 2008
Last updated: 12/17/08 at 03:49 PM
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I, Adrian W. Emery, Aka. Fantastree, created this timeline For Marcy Burstiner's JMC 340 Class "History of Mass Communication as a final project.
Nowadays, it seems like Everybody and his brother has a blog. There are news blogs, movie blogs, video game blogs, personal blogs, journal blogs, and who-knows-what blogs. Blogging started, interestingly enough, as something that only computer-savvy (better known to the world as ‘geeky’) college students were involved with. It was called mod.ber (yes, all lower case) and it was used to share bits of interesting information. It’s archive can be viewed and admired through google groups: http://groups.google.com/group/mod.ber/topics mod.ber wasn’t much to begin with, but it gave birth to two of the most used types of mass communication on the internet today: the Blog (short for Web Log) and the Forum. Both of these are used today for every imaginable purpose, and more are started every day. Sources: http://groups.google.com/group/mod.ber/topics http://groups.google.com/group/mod.ber/about http://www.netfunny.com/rhf/oldest-blog.html
Jim Ellis and Tom Truscott were computer science graduate students from Duke University. In the early days of computers, very few people actually had them, and the internet was rarer still. In Ellis and Truscott’s day, computers were almost solely in the possession of universities. Ellis and Truscott designed a way to send news stories through the very young internet between universities. The coding they used made it possible for all universities with a computer and a modem to find these stories, no matter what software they were using. It was the first computer-based newswire. Ellis and Truscott effectively turned these uncommon and underutilized machines into a means of sharing information that was actually useful to people: the news. Without this concept of useful information being shared, the internet as we know it may not have existed. Sources: http://www.livinginternet.com/u/ui_netnews.htm Image: A computer like the ones Ellis and Truscott may have used. And we think OURS are slow... http://media.smays.com/blog/blogimages/computer450.jpg
Edward R. Murrow was a journalist in a league of his own. His career in radio, and later television, set a standard for news reporting to be believable, credible, vivid, and accurate. Murrow held steadfastly to the facts, and his style of reporting and colorful language allowed him to become what journalists today aspire to be. Not only that, but at the time, nobody was holding themselves to these standards; he was the first clear, accurate, well spoken and honest reporter that the world had ever known. In establishing the of credibility, Murrow created the that people could trust the news they received. Thanks to the heavy amounts of censorship and propaganda, news wasn’t always the most credible thing in those days. Murrow, perhaps inadvertently, changed all that, and made it possible for people to believe the voices coming out of their radios and televisions. Sources: http://www.museum.tv/archives/etv/M/htmlM/murrowedwar/murrowedwar.htm Image: Murrow in London http://reneeashleybaker.files.wordpress.com/2007/12/edward-r-murrow-in-london.jpg Video: An early radio broadcast of Murrow reporting on the downfall of the Buchenwald concentration camp in 1945.
Television was faster to catch on with the general public than the radio was. Still, it was only 8 years after the first radio news was broadcast that the first television news hit the screens. It was a very modest beginning; the station manager of W2XB (which was to become CBS, eventually), who’s name was Kolin Hager, read the predicted weather and the farm reports in front of a camera two times a day, three days a week. The concept of daily news had not caught on yet, obviously. Television news opened the doors to viewers around the world. For the first time, they could see vivid, moving pictures to accompany the news they were hearing and reading about. The power of being able to see video would have the power to inform people in ways that the silent newspapers and the inanimate radios couldn’t even dream of. Sources: http://www.cbs6albany.com/sections/wrgb/history/ http://www.blurtit.com/q476074.html Image: An article in the newspaper announcing the first TV news broadcast. http://www.cbs6albany.com/images/history/boston_post_web.jpg
August 31, 1920 First News Broadcast over the Radio Radio as we know it today comes in three different signal types (AM, FM, XM), with hundreds of stations playing everything from news to sermons to advertisements to (mostly bad) music. When it was first invented, it had a range of approximately 1 mile, AM band only, and hardly anybody owned one. In the twenty years since the first successful radio broadcast in the year 1900, the radio had been slow in catching on, and still had a very limited range (about 100 miles). This changed very abruptly when, on primary election night, 1920, the Detroit news broadcast the results as they came in, in much the same way that television stations nowadays follow the election races closely. This was very important in the history of the radio, because this allowed the medium to become incredibly popular in a very short span of time. It was also revolutionary for the concept of news, because for the first time, people were listening to the news as it happened; they no longer had to wait until the next day to read about it. The of ‘live’ was around for the first time. Sources: http://earlyradiohistory.us/WWJ.htm http://www.guidodeiro.com/radio.html
In 1835, Samuel Morse had figured out how to make use of a new piece of technology called the telegraph. At the time Samuel Morse came onto the scene, other inventors had developed the basic of sending a signal through a wire, but had no how it could be really used. Joseph Henry had recently applied the electromagnet to the concept of the telegraph, which increased both distance and clarity. When Morse got hold of the he and his fellow inventor and companion Alfred Vale developed a means to insulate the wire, and Morse was in the process of inventing a language of dots and dashes that could be used to communicate across this wire. His invention was soon perfected, and ready to be used. In 1844, during the presidential campaign, the Whig party (since extinct) held their party convention in Baltimore, Maryland. When the nomination of Henry was announced at the convention, the news was run to Vale, who sent the message to the Capitol by telegram. In this way, the telegram was used to send news across the country. News could already travel across the county by train, but in this way, news could now reach all of the country on the same day. It became possible to send news farther and faster than ever before, particularly when telegraph lines began to run between Europe and the United States. In other words, we had the first concept of timely news from other parts of the world. Sources: http://inventors.about.com/od/tstartinventions/a/telegraph.htm http://members.cox.net/ke4fgc/telegraphhistory.htm http://morsecode.scphillips.com/jtranslator.html (for the title) Image: A Phelps Electro-Motor Printing Telegraph. One of the later model telegraphs that came once the technology caught on. http://www.officemuseum.com/IMagesWWW/1877_Phelps_Electro-Motor_Printing_Telegraph_Sci_Amer_OM.jpg
“Relation aller Fürnemmen und gedenckwürdigen Historien” is not a name that rolls off the tongue. Nevertheless, it is the name of what is believed to be the first newspaper. It’s inventor, Johann Carolus, had started off in the business of making hand written news pamphlets, but thought that he might gain a wider audience by using a printing press. This he did, to gain a larger audience and a larger income for his troubles, since the cost of buying the press was substancial. “Relation aller Fürnemmen und gedenckwürdigen Historien,” which means “Collection of all distinguished and commemorable news” was just that; a compilation of the most interesting and useful fragments of news garnered from the other news books and news pamphlets of the day. Other newspapers have reached a wider audience, but “Relation aller Fürnemmen und gedenckwürdigen Historien” was not, unlike many of the other, more recognized newspapers, started as a tool for propaganda. It was essentially the first independent newspaper. Sources: http://www.babylon.com/definition/Johann_Carolus/English http://www.wan-press.org/article6476.html
The exact date is a little unclear, but somewhere around this time, the first 200 copies of the bible came off of Johann Gutenberg’s printing press, printed on linen paper and later hand illuminated. Gutenberg’s printing press was not the first that the world had ever seen, but Gutenberg perfected the concept of movable type, and his use of metal letters proved to be a part of what made his press successful. The bible was the first thing that was printed on Gutenberg’s press. The Gutenberg bible became the first book to be printed en masse for the masses. It was intended to be sold to the people, read by the people, distributed amongst the people, and at a price that the people could afford (not many people, but still cheaper than hand copied). It was the first printed book intended for a mass audience, and could be printed indefinitely. Sources: http://www.greatsite.com/timeline-english-bible-history/gutenberg.html Image: One leaf (page) of the Gutenberg Bible. From: http://prodigi.bl.uk/TreasuresImages/Gutenberg/max/kl1/001.jpg
1100 B. C. E. Written language had been around some time, as had phonetic language, by 1100. In the city of Byblos, a trading port in modern day Lebanon, the written language evolved and changed into it’s own, more comprehensive dialect, and for the first time, the concept of an alphabet appeared. Because Byblos was a popular trade city, and one of it’s most popular items of trade was papyrus, this alphabet spread out very swiftly and very far. It is the language that Greek, Hebrew, and Arabic have all sprung from, and from those have evolved many more. Essentially, phonetic written language was made popular and accessible by the Phoenicians of Byblos. Sources: http://www.middleeast.com/byblos.htm http://www.ancientscripts.com/alphabet.html I also visited what’s left of Byblos in 2005, and have a great many memories from that trip. Photo: The ruins of the ancient trade port of Byblos, believed to be one of the oldest city on earth that’s still standing. Taken by Adrian W. Emery in 2005.
30,000 B. C. E. Delicate paintings on the walls of caves have dated back farther than any other surviving form of communication in human history. Whereas very little is known about cave paintings, we do know that they were created by people, and that they were created not just as decoration but to communicate a message. This form of communication predates words and even symbols, and all that we see of these cave paintings are rapidly deteriorating icons on rocks depicting animals and people. Rarely, some other symbols are found accompanying them, but it is largely unknown what they might once have met. This was in no way revolutionary communication, but it is certainly the very first form of mass communication. It is unknown when it started, or why, but it has survived the ages to communicate something, even if it is only saying that humans were once here. Sources: http://www.culture.gouv.fr/culture/arcnat/lascaux/en/ http://www.artchive.com/artchive/C/cave.html Image: A remarkably well preserved cave painting showing a hunt http://thetripe.files.wordpress.com/2008/06/cavepaint.jpg