History Of Communication

Office communications in today’s world would be incomplete without an Internet connection, a computer and a smartphone. High speed Internet and SIP trunking, the kinds of business services offered at ThinkTel today, would have been replaced with the telegraph and pneumatic tube networks in the early 1850s. While we might imagine the act of sending letters flying underground through pressurized tubes to have a sense of magic about it, perhaps something right out a Jetsons episode, there is no denying that office communications powered by pneumatic tube networks made communication much more difficult than it is today.

Indeed, the history of office communications is an interesting one. One of the earliest forms of office communications began in 1853, in London, with 900 feet of tubes connecting the London Stock Exchange and the Electric Telegraph Company. Plastic tubes with compressed air pumps on each side would propel canisters with notes from one location to another. Interestingly, these pneumatic tube networks are still in some places today, including hospitals, factories and banks.

Another point of progress in office communications was the advent of the telephone and the switchboard that propelled telephone conversations in the latter 1870s – wherein switchboard operators would manually switch an incoming call to an outgoing one, a process that has since died out. An interesting historical fact is that teenage boys were once the original switchboard operators due to the fact that they had to climb ladders to reach the switches, but eventually women became the primary switchboard operators due to their pleasant phone manner and the fact that their labour was cheaper.

Enter the late 1970s – fax machines were a major part of office culture and communications. Fun fact: the second fax machine that Xerox released was 46 pounds! While fax machines were eventually replaced again by email (of course, some offices haven’t said goodbye to their fax machines), only time will tell what the next wave of future technological progress will be.


Infographic Source: http://www.thinktel.ca/retro-office-communication/

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