Monday, June 11, 2018

Trans-Atlantic Telegraph Cable

Communication is much like other fields in that progress within happens slowly and steadily, often in increments rather than leaps and bounds. However, sometimes it does experience an exception. I speak of a giant leap forward in communication that occurred 160 years ago: the Trans-Atlantic telegraph cable. In August, 1858, this cable was laid-down following four years of unprecedented work from workers on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. The first message via the cable was sent to U.S. President James Buchanan by England's Queen Victoria. It contained nothing heavy-duty. Rather, the purpose was to simply congratulate the United States on this monumental achievement.

With the existence of this cable line, mankind was now able to communicate with great speed and even efficiency from one part of the world to the next. Much like the telephone and Internet, this telegraph cable was very much a game-changer. It was a giant step toward making the world a lot more of an intimate place than ever. The communicating or sharing of information - something that took weeks to achieve on an international scale - could now be done in minutes. Granted, though it took several more years before that trans-Atlantic telegraph cable was perfected to the point of consistent reliability, its introduction was revolutionary.    

As is the case for almost all giant steps forward, the big question revolved around the utilization of it. To put it bluntly, did mankind use it for ill-gain or turn it into a tool to do harm to others? As I see it, and I am glad to note, mankind did not mess-up this particular innovation. (How I wish we could make the same observation about social media.) Governments and media conglomerates, to cite two examples, generally sought to make the most of the telegraph cable in ways that brought benefit to mankind. It was a "plus" in all ways that are good. It also continues to serve as a reminder of how innovation, in the right hands, can be a force for good.

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