Communication has come a long way in a century - not always at the customers convenience.

Andy has started a blog. Why blog, when my website is so out of date ?

To answer this, I have to do a review of communication technology of the last century, starting with the letter. I guess I could go back further, but the letter was the first convenient communication at a distance.

The letter

Greatly enabled by RowlandHill and his sender-pays postage stamp, it enabled convenient communication at a distance. Sender’s convenience - Receiver’s convenience. Latency - days to a week. Cost - one penny.

The telephone

AlexanderGraham Bell’s invention revolutionised communication - and is still very much a part of life today. Instant communication across the country, or world. Caller’s convenience, but requires the callee to stop what they are doing and take the call. No latency, cost relatively cheap. My first telephone experiences were the party line on my parents’ farm in Kenya. Little windy-windy handle on the side - the operator was one long ring, we were long-short-short-long. You had to book international calls, and wait around all day for the call back.

The fax

Using telephone technology, the fax brought the immediacy of the telephone call to paper medium. As a side-effect, the fax brought the convenience back to the receiver, since it was no longer necessary to synchronise in time with thecaller. My first fax experience ? Our sales office in Maryland, USA usedTWX - (a technology that didn’t make it onto this list) - when we switched to fax we realised how behind we were - the TWX machine stood silent.


The wonder of email was its immediacy, and very low cost. No consumables like fax, no calling charges (in the USA) it brought communication for the computer-literate to rock-bottom price levels, and allowed the receiver to read the mail at a different time to the sender writing it. My first email experience ? Company email at Inmos, Bristol, UK - personal Email by UUCP from UUnet - to my brand new domain, I did not need to pay for the first year or two for the domain. My bang-path address wasuunet!wizzy!andyr.

Usenet News

This was a wonderful technology of the time, A truly global discussion board, it was the mainstay of technical support in the 1980s, before thebalkanisation created by multiple mailing lists. It still lives on in Google Groups, but a shadow of its former self. It was low cost, you posted to your local news server which redistributed it globally via NNTP. My first Usenet News experience was when I found comp.sys.transputer - a newsgroup that was created to support the microprocessor we sold.

Instant messaging

Here we have the immediacy of the telephone, the keyboard of email, and the inconvenience to the receiver (for things like AIM). I got into this in about 2 years ago - to keep up with colleagues sitting next to me .. I still use it, but find it a huge time consumer.


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