The way human beings interact has changed over the years. What began with cavemen making animalistic sounds to convey emotion or direction, eventually peaked 10-20 years ago when digital communication media started to come with character limits.
Most of the technology-supported alternatives to verbal communication, like E-mails, text messages and tweets didn’t even exist 20 years ago.
Human beings have adapted significantly to get comfortable with non-verbal communication. Smoke signals and carrier pigeons have become emojis in status updates and tweets.
If you want to know some of the best ways to improve your team’s communication, click here.
But before we find out more about the evolution of communication, let’s dig a little deeper into the history of communication and the importance of business communication for a successful business.
Communication is the process by which living beings interact with each other and convey information regarding what’s on their mind, what they wish to do, how they feel etc. It’s the crux of what has made human beings the most successful among all other species that exists on the Earth.
Back in the old days, word of mouth was the only form of communication, and we all know well from our childhood memories of playing ‘Chinese Whisper’ that what goes around is not always what comes around.
Here are a few interesting statistics that illustrate the evolution of communication:
As you can see, communication has changed drastically over the years. The evolution of communication has been based on the needs of people in that particular point of time, people have always been looking for better ways to communicate their thoughts and feelings and that’s exactly what the various modes of communication has helped us achieve.
The biggest impact that technology has made is in terms of speed and costs. Initially any message that needed to be posted needed to be written once, then re-written again, whether it was written by hand or the type-writer because we are humans and we are bound to make mistakes. Finally, sending the letter to someone else required you to leave your house, visit a post office, pay a fee of some sort either for a stamp, transport etc. to send a message via post. Let’s not even get started on how messy carrier pigeons would have been.
More speedy methods like telegrams or telegraphs would unfortunately restrict the length of your message.
Thanks to the internet and computer technology we have now come a long way. Thanks to the numerous instant messaging apps and platforms we don’t even have to leave the house or pay a single dime to convey a message. Information can be transferred within seconds and it saves a lot of time and money for all parties involved.
There was once a time when all the information people had was based on things they had heard or seen. Almost like the longest game of Chinese Whisper for centuries. There was no single source that anyone could look up and confirm whether what they heard was true or not.
Thanks to search engines like Google, Bing and Baidu, we have access to an immense amount of information. We can even access information in languages we don’t understand, thanks to Page Translators .
Although communicating has become increasingly easier, technology has heavily impacted the nature of communication. Face to face communication has reduced drastically to a point where people prefer texting and emailing over going out to meet people.
Mobile phones come with small keyboards which have made it difficult to type out complete words, which has led to the shortening of words and phrases and modifying language in the written form. Communication has become brief, concise and to the point.
Recent innovations have also increased the variety and availability of communication devices. Most people have access to a mobile phone and can use it to call or communicate with people that are important to them. According to Statista there are going to be over 5 billion Smartphone users in the world in 2019. Everyone has access to live news coverage, sports events and other important global activities. Technology has helped remove barriers that previously existed.
It is the oldest form of communication. The first recordings of smoke signals being used comes from 200 B.C. when it was used to send messages along the great wall of China. Then Historian Polybius from Greece used it in 150 B.C. to create a system that represented the alphabet. This transformed the face of communication as people knew it as it meant messages could be sent by holding torchers that emitted smoke signals in pairs.
It all started in the 12th Century AD when Sultan Nur-ed-din built pigeon homes such as pigeon lofts and dovecotes in Cairo and Damascus in Egypt. The pigeons who were bred here used to send messages to places as far as Baghdad, which is now known as Iraq. This was the first ever organised messaging service in the world. Pigeons even played an important role in World War I and World War II and some of whom were even awarded the Dicken Medal for Bravery by the Mayor of London.
Greek Historian Xenophon credits Persian King Cyrus the Great with the invention of the first postal service. Cyrus got posting stations built in many places across his empire to ensure that there was sufficient exchange of information between him and his governors.
Claude Chappe was the first person to build the semaphore visual telegraph. His brother was a member of the Legislative Assembly of France, who gave Claude full support of the assembly during the initial stages of his invention process. He then built a series of towers between two cities Paris and Lile. Each of the towers was equipped with a pair of telephone pointing in opposite direction, with a two-arm semaphore. The first successful telegraph, about the capture of Condé-sur-l’Escaut from the Austrians, was sent to Paris in less than an hour.
The first automatic computing machine was invented by mathematician Charles Babbage. He was the first one to invent computers, but he failed to completely build one. In fact, the first Babbage Engine was officially built in 2002; 153 years after Babbage first designed them.
Despite being the person who invented the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell did not want to have a telephone in his study as he felt it would be a distraction. Bell was keen on developing a telephone for a very long time. He was very sure of what he had to do. In his own words, “If I could make a current of electricity vary in intensity precisely as the air varies in density during the production of sound, I should be able to transmit speech telegraphically.” Three days after he received the patent he made the famous first call to his assistant Thomas Watson saying, “Mr. Watson, come here. I want you.”
In the year 1894 Guglielmo Marconi was inspired by German physicist Heinrich Rudolf Hertz’s discovery of invisible waves caused by electromagnetic interactions. He went on to build his own wave generating machine, which was able to send waves to locations that were miles away. His invention unfortunately failed to impress the Italian Government. For this reason he headed to London and then to America where his invention was accepted and revered.
John Logie Baird was a man who used to sell soaps and socks. He sold this business to pursue his real passion of inventing the television. He used to barely get by and survived by borrowing money from his friends and family. In 1925, he gave the world the first display of a working television, and in 1927 he displayed the first colour television and also the first video-recording system known as “Phonovision”
Video technology was first developed for televisions. It was only in 1951 that the first video camera recorder was invented to capture television images and converted to magnetic video tapes.This was around the time VCRs and Blockbuster shops came to America. Once the process became more digital video cassettes became DVDs. Blu-ray discs were released in 2006 after which the advancement of technology allowed videos to be captured on personal cameras and smartphones.
Just as videos could be captured on smaller and smaller devices, they could also be viewed on smaller and smaller devices i.e. television, followed by desktop computers which was then followed by laptops and Smartphones. The invention of capturing and viewing video content has transformed how we consume content forever.
Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee known popularly as Tim Berners Lee invented the World Wide Web using ‘http’ when he realised that there were a lot of barriers in the transfer of information from different corners of the globe. His boss initially dismissed his idea saying that it was “Vague but exciting”. It was his second attempt during which he used a NeXT computer (Steve Jobs first computer) that sealed the deal. During this period he created three fundamental technologies that are pillars of the World Wide Web even today:
Having invented the Web in 1989 while working at CERN in Switzerland and subsequently working to ensure it was made freely available to all, Sir Tim is now dedicated to enhancing and protecting the Web’s future.
A self-proclaimed geek, Alan Emtage, who majored in computer science at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, invented a search engine where students from his university could access their own records. It became the first search engine ever built. He named it ARCHIE which is ‘Archive’ without the ‘v’. Before he knew it he was getting tons of traffic from all over Canada. Due to limited space the search engine would only show listings and not the actual content. He never patented the search engine but to this day Archie is known as the ‘Grandfather of All Search Engines’.
Global Navigator Network was launched in May 1993, as a side project of the technical publishing company O’Reilly Media. They realised that they needed a way to fund the project, which is why they put up the banner ad space for sale. It was purchased by a law firm which dissolved later on. Global Navigator Network was one of the pioneers of on-line advertising put up their first paid banner ad in 1993 and had sponsorship links by early 1994.
GeoCities was launched in 1994 by David Bohnett & John Rezner, as a platform where people could create their own websites about themselves, share photographs and information about themselves. Users were also allowed to buy and sell items and could separate into communities based on various subjects of interest. It was later bought by Yahoo! at a whopping $3 billion in 1999 and shut down a year later.
Justin Hall started the first blog called Links.net in 1994 while he was just a student at Swarthmore College. He treated it like a web-diary where he would share parts of his life. Eventually the site came to focus on his life in intimate detail. In December, 2004, New York Times Magazine referred to him as “The Founding Father of Personal Blogging.”
It was an Israeli Company named Mirabilis who launched the first successful text-based messenger called ICQ. It was the first instant messaging application to reach a widespread marked and enable multiple users to chat, transfer files, search for old files and texts etc. It was acquired by AOL in 1998. The current version of ICQ has a Facebook integration and mobile sync.
Although it may seem like it is a fairly new concept to us, it has alternate reality has been around for ages. Way back in 1831, Charles Wheatstone’s showed that the brain processes the different two-dimensional images from each eye into a single object of three dimensions. From then on a variety of inventions like simulators, sensory goggle, inventions like Playstation, WII and even super interactive games that we play on our phones shows you how far the industry has come.
If you want to know more about the history of Artificial Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), check out this article on the ‘History of AR &VR’.
The evolution of communication has been so expansive that it is almost impossible to see at once, how far we’ve come. But one thing we can confirm from the history of communication is the crucial role it has played in collection and dissemination of information.
The reason why many of these technologies were invented was to make communication quicker and easier for everyone. So why not take full advantage of it for your business as well?
The importance of business communication cannot be stressed enough. We have all been in a situation when we are working with a team and we have no idea what is going on beyond our own screens. To ensure efficiency and improve productivity, we have curated a list of the top tools that your business can use to facilitate seamless communication.
You can view the full PDF or download a copy of the ‘Best Tools for Seamless Business Communication’ here.
What do you think of the evolution of communication? Was it really necessary, or would we have been just fine with carrier pigeons flying around us? Share your thoughts in the comments below.