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back to: summary - Communication Technology 
Some Dates in the History 
 of Cultural Technologies

Ideographic or syllabic writing

c. 33rd century B.C.      Sumerians invent writing from commercial inscriptions.  

c. 31st century B.C.       Egyptian hieroglyphics developed from Sumerian models.  

c. 25th century B.C.      Harappan culture of Indus Valley has ideographic script.  

c. 19th century B.C.      Babylonian cuneiform adapted from Sumerian script.  

c. 19th century B.C.      Chinese develop writing, perhaps independently.  

c. 17th century B.C.      Minoan "Linear-A" script adapted from hieroglyphics.  

c. 15th century B.C.      Hittite cuneiform adapted from Babylonian writing.  

c. 12th century B.C.      Assyrian cuneiform is adapted from Babylonian writing.  

c.  9th century B.C.      Chinese ìta chuanî script is compiled.  

c.   6th century B.C.      Early Persian cuneiform influenced by neo-Babylonian script.  

c. 5th century B.C.      Cuneiform dies out as Babylonian speech falls into disuse.  

3rd century B.C.      "Li shu" Chinese script developed by the emperor's minister.  

c. 3rd century A.D.     Mayans of Central America have an ideographic script.  

c. 4th century A.D.     Japanese develop script from Korean and Chinese models.  


Alphabetic writing    

c. 16th century B.C.    First alphabetic script, North Semitic, appears in Palestine.   

c. 13th century B.C.     Phoenician alphabet derived from North Semitic prototype.   

c. 11th century B.C.     Early Hebrew script derived from North Semitic prototype.   

c. 11th century B.C.     Greek alphabet derived from Phoenician script.   

c. 10th century B.C.     Aramaic alphabet derived from North Semitic script.   

c.   8th century B.C.     South Semitic script introduced to Yemen.   

c.   8th century B.C.     Etruscan alphabet derived from Greek.   

c.  7th century B.C.      Latin alphabet derived from Etruscan and Greek sources.   

c.  6th century B.C.      Brahmi script, derived from Aramaic, introduced in India.   

c.  3rd century B.C.      Later Hebrew script derived from Aramaic.   

c.  2nd century B.C.     Nabataean alphabet derived from Aramaic script.   

c.  2nd century A.D.     Coptic script of Egypt derived from Greek.   

c.  3rd century A.D.     Runic script of Northern Europe derived from Etruscan.   

c.  4th century A.D.     Gothic script of Bulgaria derived from Greek and Latin.   

c.  4th century A.D.     Gupta script of India derived from Brahmi.   

c.  5th century A.D.     Arabic script is derived from Nabataean.  

c. 5th century A.D.     Grantha script of India derived from Gupta.   

c.  8th century A.D.     Kavi script of Java is derived from Grantha.   

c.  8th century A.D.     Frankish Carolingian script derived from Latin.   

c.  9th century A.D.     Glagolitic script, based on Greek, introduced in Bulgaria. 

c.  9th century A.D.     Cyrillic script in Bulgaria is derived from Greek uncial.  


Printing, typewriting, photocopying    

105 A.D.            Chinese imperial court announces the invention of paper.

6th century A.D.    Chinese engravers master art of wood-block printing.   

850 A.D.            Chinese make books with hard covers and printed pages.

11th century A.D.     Pi Sheng, Chinese alchemist, prints with movable type.   

1157 A.D.             First paper mills built in Spain.

15th century A.D.     Korean king undertakes massive printing project.   

1428 A.D.             Laurens Janzoon, prints prayer book with wooden fonts.   

1454 A.D.         Johann Gutenberg of Mainz prints Mazarin Bible.   

1498 A.D.         Aldus Manutius publishes set of Aristotle's writings.   

1501 A.D.      First hymn book is printed in Prague.

1516 A.D.          Johannes Froben prints Erasmus' translation of New Testament.   

1583 A.D.          Elzevir family of Holland publishes its first book.   

1609 A.D.           First newspaper is printed in Germany.  

1617 A.D.        Rapburne and Burgess patent printed maps.

1642 A.D.         Mezzotint invents way of printing artists’ drawings from metal plates.

1657 A.D.          Classified advertisements appear in the Publick Adviser.

1702 A.D.             Daily Courant becomes England's first daily newspaper.   

1728 A.D.             Benjamin Franklin founds Pennsylvania Gazette newspaper.   

1755 A.D.             Dr. Samuel Johnson publishes an English dictionary.   

1803 A.D.           Fourdriner papermaking machine installed in London.   

1810 A.D.             Friedrich Koenig applies steam power to printing press.   

1814 A.D.         The Times (newspaper) produced on steam rotary printing press.

1821 A.D.             Saturday Evening Post begins publication.   

1847 A.D.             Richard March Hoe (USA) designs rotary press.

1868 A.D.             Christopher Latham Sholes receives U.S. patent for typewriter.

1874 A.D.             Remington typewriter put on the market.   

1886 A.D.             Mergenthaler's linotype machine installed at New York Tribune.   

1887 A.D.             Montgomery Ward mails 540-page catalog throughout North America.

1904 A.D.             Sears Roebuck mails one-million copies of its merchandise catalog.

1922 A.D.             Reader's Digest and Time magazines begin publication.   

1935 A.D.             Electric typewriter comes on the market.  

1938 A.D.           Carlson develops a photocopying machine. (Xerox)

1974 A.D.            Laser printer developed by 3M company.

1985 A.D.            Canon markets a color photocopying machine.



1553     Giovanni Battista della Porta describes camera obscura in book.   

1727     Johann Schulze discovers that light darkens silver-nitrate solution.   

1802     Davy and Wedgewood make silhouettes on silver-nitrate coated paper.   

1816     Joseph Nicephore Niepce makes film negative on coated paper.   

1826     Niepce produces first photograph on metal plate.   

1839     Louis Daguerre perfects daguerreotype photography.   

1861     Matthew Brady begins photographing scenes from U.S. Civil War.

1869     First color photograph is displayed.

1888     George Eastman develops roll film.   

1914    Barnack exhibits small, hand-held camera. (the Leica)

1935     Kodachrome color transparency film is developed.

1938     Harold Edgerton perfects electronic flash tube.   

1947     Polaroid markets quick-developing film.


Electric telegraph    

1832     Samuel F.B. Morse learns of Ampere's idea for electric communication.   

1837      Morse invents the telegraph and morse code.

1844     Morse sends telegraphed message between Baltimore and Washington.   

1851      Telegraph cables laid under the English Channel.

1866     Telegraph cable crossing Atlantic Ocean is laid.   

1872     J.B. Stearns invents method of duplex telegraphy.  



1876     Alexander Graham Bell invents and demonstrates telephone.   

1877     Thomas Edison and others develop carbon telephone transmitter.   

1892       Automatic telephone exchange using Strowger’s selector allows direct dialing.

1915     First coast-to-coast telephone conversation in the United States.   

1977      Fiber-optic telephone cables are installed.

1983     MCI places order for 90,000 miles of fiber optic cable.   

1984     Court ruling ends A T & T monopoly of telephone service.

1997     Camera phone is invented.

Phonograph, Tape Recorder    

1877     Thomas Edison invents the phonograph.   

1888     Emile Berliner invents gramophone disks.   

1898     Valdemar Poulsen discovers that sound changes magnetic pattern in wires.   

1900     Poulsen invents telegraphone.   

1904      Double-sided gramophone discs made in Germany.

1920     Recorded blues and jazz music launches the “Jazz Age”.

1925      Maxfield perfects electrical recording using a microphone.

1930s    German firms develop magnetic tape for sound recordings.   

1940s    Tape recorder sold in the United States. 

1948     Long-playing records introduced.   

1950     RCA Victor introduces “unbreakable” vinyl records.

1952     Mullin and Johnson demonstrate experimental video-tape recorder.

1963     Phillips develops audiotape cassettes.   

1980      Laser-read compact disks used for sound recordings.

1981      Sony brings out Walkman portable cassette player.

Motion Pictures, Video Recorders   

1824     Peter Mark Roget proposes theory of persistent vision.

1872     Eadweard Maybridge does photographic studies of animals in motion.   

1888     William Dickson, Edison's assistant, invents the kinetoscope.   

1894     First kinetoscope parlour opened in Ottawa.   

1895     Lumiere Brothers of Paris develop film projector.   

1900     Georges Melies creates film with a story line.   

1903     Bronco Billy Anderson stars in "The Great Train Robbery". 

1906     J. Stuart Blockton creates first animated film.   

1908     Film wildcatters move to southern California.   

1914     D.W. Griffith releases "Birth of a Nation".   

1927     Al Jolson stars in "The Jazz Singer", first motion picture with sound.   

1928     Disney's Mickey Mouse stars in "Steamboat Willie".   

1929     First Oscar Awards from Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.   

1932     Technicolor used for the first time in motion pictures.

1951     Prototype of videotape recorder built by Armour Research Foundation.   

1953     Ampex introduces commercial video recorders.   

1965      Dolby noise-reduction equipment becomes available.

1970       Videocassette produced for the mass market.

1973        Phillips N-1500 video recorder introduced for use in the home.

1975     Sony introduces Betamax videocassette recorder.  

1976     Disney and MCA sue Sony for copyright infringement. 

1982      The camcorder becomes commercially available.

1983    U.S. Supreme Court allows videotaping of televised films.   

1980s    Video rental business begins.   


1873     James Clark Maxwell writes treatise on electromagnetic waves.   

1888     Heinrich Hertz experiments with radio waves. 

1895     Guglielmo Marconi broadcasts letter "S" in Morse code by radio.   

1901     Marconi broadcasts letter "S" across Atlantic ocean. 

1904     Reginald A. Fessender transmits speech by radio.   

1904    John A. Fleming invents vacuum tube to detect radio waves.   

1907     Lee DeForest invents audion tube to amplify radio signals.   

1912     David Sarnoff receives radio message from the sinking Titanic.   

1913     Edwin H. Armstrong patents way to amplify radio signals.   

1918     Armstrong invents super heterodyne circuit.  

1919     Radio Corporation of America is formed.   

1920     First commercial radio station, KDKA, begins broadcasting.  

1921     First paid radio commercial.   

1925     Edwin Armstrong begins work on FM broadcasting system.   

1926     First radio network, NBC, is formed.  

1934     Robert Watson-Watt invents radar device.   

1935    Nielsen company measures radio audiences in the United States.

1939      Two-way radio communication developed for military use.

1948     Transistor developed at Bell Laboratories.   

1958       SCORE communication satellite sends signals to earth.


1861     Joseph May notices that sunlight affects electrical resistance of selenium.   

1884     Paul Nipkow develops mechanical television device.  

1897     Karl Ferdinand Braun invents cold-cathode "Braun" tube.   

1908     Campbell Swinton writes paper on possibility of "distant electric vision".   

1923     John Logie Baird patents television system with Nipkow disk.   

1923     Vladimir Zworykin invents iconoscope, a workable television camera.  

1926     Baird and Jenkins demonstrate television with mechanical scanning device.   

1927     Philo T. Farnsworth patents "image dissector", a more advanced camera.   

1928     Zworykin patents television system with electronic scanning.   

1933     In London, EMI applies for permission to begin television broadcasts.   

1934     Farnsworth demonstrates electronic television system in Philadelphia.   

1936     London Television Service begins regular broadcasts.   

1938     First sports telecast takes place in London (a soccer match)    

1939     RCA unveils U.S. television broadcasting at New York World Fair.   

1949     John Cameron Swayze becomes anchor of Camel News Caravan.   

1951     First sitcom, "I Love Lucy", aired on U.S. commercial television.  

1953     F.C.C. approves system of broadcasting color television.   

1960     Televised Presidential debate between Kennedy and Nixon.   

1980     Ted Turner starts Cable News Network (CNN).   

1988     Pocket-sized television sets become available.

1991     The STAR network begins Asian broadcasts.

2009      Analog television will stop broadcasting in the United States.  


Calculators and Computers    

1617     John Napier shows how to multiply and divide using rods or bones.   

1642     Blaise Pascal invents adding machine.   

1671     G.W. von Leibniz invents adding machine with geared wheels.   

1801     Joseph Jacquard uses card-controlled looms to weave designs into cloth.   

1820     Charles X. Thomas introduces commercial calculating machine.   

1835     Charles Babbage invents "Analytic Engine", foreshadowing computers.   

1859     George Boole publishes treatise on binary algebra.   

1867     Charles Sanders Peirce applies Boolean logic to electric circuits.   

1872     Lord Kelvin develops analog computer to predict tides.  

1886     Herman Hollerith conceives idea of using punched cards for calculations.   

1890     Hollerith's ideas successfully applied to work of the U.S. Census.   

1896     Hollerith forms Tabulating Machine Company.   

1911     Computing Tabulating Recording Corporation (later IBM) is incorporated after Hollerith sells his company.

1911     Monroe invents a comptometer calculator to multiply and divide.

1937     George Stibitz creates electrical circuit to apply Boolean algebra.   

1939     IBM engineers and Howard Aiken of Harvard start on the Mark I computer.   

1941     Konrad Zuse produces digital computer, the Z3, in Germany.

1943     Alan Turing's "Colossus" computer breaks the German Enigma code.   

1946     Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator (ENIAC) computer is built.   

1946     Von Neumann, Goldstine, and Burks publish paper on computer concepts. 

1948     Von Neumann develops computer memory system.

1949     ILLIAC I built at University of Illinois employing the Von Neumann design.   

1949     Norbert Weiner publishes book, “Cybernetics”.

1951     UNIVAC I machine installed at U.S. Census Bureau.  

1956     Computer beats human player in chess game.   

1957     IBM unveils FORTRAN programming language.   

1959     Jack St. Clair Kilby of Texas Instruments invents integrated circuits.   

1960     Livermore Advanced Research Computer (LARC) built with transistors.   

1962     J.C.R. Licklider of MIT presents concept of “galactic network” in memos.

1962     LINC computer, forerunner of PC, begins processing data in MIT lab..

1964     IBM introduces mainframe computer, IBM 360.

1964     Control Data introduces CDC 660 supercomputer developed by Seymour Cray.

1965     FORTRAN, user-friendly computer language, is created.

1965     Computer-controlled word-processing system replaces tape system.

1965     Lawrence Roberts links computers in California and Massachusetts to create first wide-area computer network.

1965    The PDP-8 by DEC is first minicomputer success.

1969     U.S. Department of Defense creates ARPANET computer network.   

1971     Engineers at Intel invent the microprocessor.

1971    First email on the ARPAnet   

1972     Nolan Bushnell introduces "Pong" video game.   

1972     Ray Tomlinson sends first E-mail using @ in address. 

1972     Several companies start making pocket calculators.

1972     Development of Infostrada, a national computer network in Poland

1973     Ethernet, a local area network, is developed at Xerox PARC.

1974     First personal computers introduced.   

1974     First time that a bar code scanned supermarket groceries

1975    Popular Mechanics issue features the Altair 8800 computer kit.

1976     Cray Research sells first supercomputer.   

1976     Video games now controlled by microprocessors.

1976    Steve Wozniak creates the Apple I computer.

1977     A glove device to facilitate computer interaction patented   

1977     George Lucas' computer effects in Star Wars revolutionize filmmaking.   

1977     Apple II personal computer is introduced by Jobs and Wozniak.

1977    Commodore PET Radio Shack's TRS-80 computer also introduced.

1977     ARCNET, local area network, is installed at Chase Manhattan bank.

1979     Pac-man video game first sold in Japan. 

1979     Laser scanning begins to read bar-code data.

1980     Dan Bricklin and Dan Flystra write software for VisiCalc spreadsheet.   

1981     IBM introduces personal computer, using Microsoft operating system.

1982     High-school student creates first computer virus.   

1982     French postal and telegraph service hooks up nation on Minitel network.

1982     :-)    is used for the first time.

1982    First laptop computer introduced. 

1983     Internet emerges as ARPANET splits civilian from military networks.

1983    Compaq makes the first PC clone, compatible with IBM machines.   

1984     Apple Computer introduces its Macintosh machine including a mouse.   

1985     Microsoft introduces its first version of Windows.   

1985     Microsoft and IBM introduce new operating system, OS/2.

1989     Microsoft introduces new product, Microsoft Office.

1990     Alan Entage creates the Archie, first tool for searching web files.

1990    Microsoft launches Windows 3.0.

1991     Mark McCahill at University of Minnesota creates Gopher to search files.

1991     World Wide Web begins.   

1992     Michelangelo computer virus detected in United States.

1992     Computer servers introduced

1992     Webcrawler becomes first crawler-based search engine.

1995     America Online, CompuServe, and Prodigy begin offering dial-up internet service.   

1995     Microsoft introduces Windows95.

1995     Jeff Bezos launches Amazon.com as online book seller.

1995    eBAY, online auction site, begins business.

1995     Craigslist, created by Craig Newmark becomes online service in San Francisco.

1998    Larry Page and Sergey Brin found Google while at Stanford.

1998    PayPal begins business.

1998    Apple’s iMAC computer is first in its line of iProducts.

1999    Peak of the dot.com financial bubble which burst two years later

2000     Computer glitch, Y2K, expected with new millennium.

2000     Google begins selling advertisements based on search words.

2001     Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia, is launched.

2003     MySpace is created by eUniverse employees; sold to News Corporation in 2005 for $580 million.

2005    Youtube is launched; sold to Google a year later for $1.65 billion.

2007    Apple’s iPHONE is introduced.

2008    Apple launches its iPAD. 

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relationship between cultural technologies and civilizations       A Short History of Cultural Technologies

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