Cave paintings to the Internet: 50,000 years of IT
We’ve always had the need to communicate, but now the medium as changed.
THE DESIRE to communicate with one another has been a driving creative force throughout our time on earth. As the medium of expression evolved our message went mobile and traveled through worlds both physical and digital.
Prehistoric Cave Art ~ 50,000 - 20,000 BC
One of the earliest methods of information technology that survives today is the paleolithic cave paintings left by our prehistoric ancestors. Hunting scenes, local flora and fauna and hand imprints are common themes of these early artistic expressions. Photo by Historias de Cronopios
Found on all corners of the globe and still in use among non-literate societies today, pictographs tell stories, leave instructions and depict local life. A significant step towards language and art, pictographs served humans need for communication for thousands of years. Photo by Molas
In early Mesopotamian societies the clay tablet was the equivalent of the the iPad. It was portable, and unlike pictographs, and tablets could be soaked in water and be reused. It didn't have a DVD drive either, but the Sumerians made do. Photo by listentoreason
Many cultures have used graphical figures to communicate from the Greeks to the Olmecs. The meaning of Egyptian hieroglyphs were a mystery until the early 1800's when the Rosetta Stone was discovered as the key to decoding the ancient language. Photo by mild_swearwords
A precursor to modern paper, papyrus sheets were fashioned from the pith of the papyrus plant, found abundantly on the Nile. Indispensable to ancient Egypt, papyrus was used to make boats, mattresses, mats, rope, sandals, and baskets.
Portable communication devices such as iPhones and laptops owe their prestige in part to the invention of scrolls. With scrolls, gone were the days of lugging clay tablets to and fro. Religious scriptures, scientific findings and historical events could be easily transcribed and transported long distances, aiding in the proliferation of cross-societal information.
Somewhere between the 2nd and 4th century the codex, or book, replaced the scroll. These days, big-box bookstores and online merchants hawk paperbacks by the millions and it may be difficult to imagine a time when books were copied by hand by candle light. Photo by docman
The printing press
Johannes Gutenberg gave us the printing press and began the assembly line approach to the proliferation of information. The invention of the printing press was arguably the most important leap in information technology. Within 60 years of the invention of the printing press, presses in operation throughout Western Europe had already produced more than twenty million volumes.
Fireside chats, invading Martians and the escapades of The Shadow marked the Golden Age of radio, a time when most peoples daily news came over the radio broadcasts. It took many technological advances to get from Edison's 1885 electrostatic coupling system patent to internet and satellite radio, and the process has wrapped the Earth in sound of the human voice. Photo by YlvaS
The idiot box, the boob tube...TV has acquired a few derogatory nicknames in its relatively short history. The first practical use of television was in Germany. Regular television broadcasts began in Germany in 1929 and in 1936 the Olympic Games were broadcast from Berlin, long before the first 'Kill your TV' bumper sticker. Did you know there is more video on Youtube than all of broadcast television combined?
Data storage devices
Now completely superseded by other data storage devices such as USB drives and digital video discs, floppy discs started a new era of information storage. They gave a mobility to information that we now take for granted as we tote terabytes in our timbuk2's. Photo by nhussein
What I love about sites like Matador is our ability to engage across various media, from people in every nook on a passion that ignites our imagination, travel.