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- UTOPIA Project History

This table represents a summary history of telecommunications. You may also view this information in a multi-media timeline presentation.

We have enjoyed ShoreTel's "The History of Telecommunication"

4/30/1789
through
3/17/1797
George Washington - 1st US President

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1/01/1790
Telecommunications Before 1790 Telecommunications is simply the process of communicating over a distance. Ancient telecommunications used both audio (like signal drums) and visual (smoke signals, for example) methods. Even packetized data (a note) on a transport media (a carrier pigeon) dates back more than 2,500 years.
1/01/1791
Chappe Brothers Semaphore The Chappe brothers, in France, were in their teens and were attending schools some distance apart but visible to each other. They obtained permission to set up a signaling system so they could send messages to each other. Their semaphore system consisted of movable arms on a pole whose positions denoted letters of the alphabet.
From www.cclab.com/billhist.htm
1/01/1791
through
1/01/1860
Commercial Semaphore Systems Commercial semaphore systems were in use from the time the Chappe brothers established their first system in France in 1791 until the last system shut down in Algeria in 1860.
As late as 1840, appropriations requests were made to the US Congress for the establishment of semaphore systems.
Flag semaphore systems are still used today in some maritime and other settings. Semaphores have also established their place in popular culture. The peace sign
was inspired by combining the semaphores
"N" and "D"
in the circle of the world as a plea for global nuclear disarmament.
4/27/1791
through
4/02/1872
Samuel F. B. Morse

Samuel Finley Breese Morse was born 27 April 1791 to Jedidiah Morse and Elizabeth Ann Finley Breese in Charlestown, Massachusetts. Morse attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts and Yale College. While at Yale, he supported himself by painting and graduated in 1810.
Starting in 1811 Morse began a three year study of art in England painting one of his more famous pieces, Dying Hercules.



On his return to the US, Morse continued to paint political, religious and other paintings.
In 1816 he met Lucretia Pikering Walker and they were married 29 September 1818.
In 1821 the Morses moved to New Haven, Connecticut. From New Haven Morse continued his work occasionally traveling to Europe to study and practice.
In 1825 the City of New York commissioned Morse to paint a portrait of Gilbert du Motier, marquis de Lafayette in Washington. While in DC a horse messenger delivered a letter from his father with the single line, "Your dear wife is convalescent." Morse immediately left Washington for New Haven but by the time he arrived, his wife had already been buried. Heartbroken in the knowledge that for days he was unaware of his wife's failing health and her lonely death, he turned his attention from painting to the pursuit of a means of rapid long distance communication.
The telegraph concept was first proposed in 1753 and a working model was built in 1774 but it was impractical, requiring a separate wire for each letter of the alphabet. In 1832, Morse was introduced to the idea of electromagnetic pulses and their conveyance over wires. Between 1832 and 1837 he developed a working model of an electric telegraph using crude materials. In 1837 Morse unveiled the first single wire telegraph.
3/04/1797
through
3/03/1801
John Adams - 2nd US President

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3/04/1801
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3/03/1809
Thomas Jefferson - 3rd US President

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3/04/1809
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3/03/1817
James Madison - 4th US President

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3/04/1817
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3/03/1825
James Monroe - 5th US President

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3/04/1825
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3/03/1829
John Quincy Adams - 6th US President

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3/04/1829
through
3/03/1837
Andrew Jackson - 7th US President

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3/04/1837
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3/03/1841
Martin Van Buren - 8th US President

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5/01/1837
Multiple-Wire Signaling Telegraph William Cooke and Charles Wheatstone patent a multiple-wire signaling telegraph.
3/04/1841
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4/04/1841
William Henry Harrison - 9th US President

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4/06/1841
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3/03/1845
John Tyler - 10th US President

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1/01/1843
Invention of the Fax Clear back in 1843 Alexander Bain connected two pens to pendulums which in turn were joined to a wire that was able to reproduce writing on an electrically conductive surface (see www.ideafinder.com) and ta da! the fax was born.
1/01/1843
Congress Supports First Telegraph Line In 1843 congress appropriated $30,000 for the construction of an experimental 38 mile telegraph line between Washington, DC and Baltimore along the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.

Thus beginning the state sponsored monopoly of telecommunications that would more or less reign in the US.
5/24/1844
What Hath God Wrought The first telegraph line (from Washington, DC to Baltimore) was inaugurated with the words from Numbers 23:32, "What hath God wrought."
3/04/1845
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3/03/1849
James K. Polk - 11th US President

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7/16/1845
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4/16/1919
Theodore N. Vail From PBS.org:



Theodore Vail was one of AT&T's most far-sighted presidents. He oversaw the building of the furst American coast to coast telephone system, and it was his dedication to basic science that initiated a new research arm for AT&T; Bell Labs.
Vail was born on July 16, 1845 in Ohio. His first career was in the railway postal service, but in 1878 he was lured away to run Bell Telephone as its general manager. During his tenure, he helped set up the Western Electric Company, a division of the company which built telephone equipment. He also oversaw the first long distance system, vrom Boston, Massachusetts to Providence, Rhode Island, in 1881.
Vail retired in 1889 - only to come back again in 1907. In between, he spent time in Argentina making money in mining, water power plants, and railway systems.
In 1907, Vail returned to what wsa essentially his previous job, though now the company was known as the American Telephone and Telegraph Company, or AT&T. AT&T was in some trouble because its phone patents had expired and other small companies were getting into the business. Suddenly, AT&T had competition. Vail solved this problem in three ways. First, he decided AT&T must have the very best phone system available: he committed the company to building a long distance system that would cross the entire US. To do this he knew he would have to invest in scientific research, and he encouraged the development of AT&T's own laboratory, Bell Labs. Second, he cooperated with the competitors, leasing them the use of AT&T's phone lines. Third, he managed to convince the public and the government that the best possible phone system was one that could provide "universal service" around the country - in essence, the best phone system would come form a monopoly like AT&T.
In 1914, the first transcontinental line across the US became operational. Vail sat in New York and made the first phone call all the way to San Francisco. A year later phone service was available to Europe as well.
Vail retired from AT&T for the second and final time in 1919. He died a year later on April 16th.
3/03/1847
through
8/02/1922
Alexander Graham Bell

The following article is copyright 2012 A+E Networks.

Synopsis
Alexander Graham Bell was born on March 3, 1847, in Edinburgh, Scotland. His education was largely received through numerous experiments in sound and the furthering of his father's work on Visible Speech for the deaf. Bell worked with Thomas Watson on the design and patent of the first practical telephone. In all, Bell held 18 patents in his name alone and 12 that he shared with collaborators. He died in 1922.

Early Life
Alexander Graham Bell was born Alexander Bell on March 3, 1847, in Edinburgh, Scotland. (He was given the middle name "Graham" when he was 10 years old.) The second son of Alexander Melville Bell and Eliza Grace Symonds Bell, he was named for his paternal grandfather, Alexander Bell. For most of his life, the younger Alexander was known as "Aleck" to family and friends. He had two brothers, Melville James Bell (1845-70) and Edward Charles Bell (1848-67), both of whom died from tuberculosis.
During his youth, Alexander Graham Bell experienced significant influences that would carry into his adult life. One was his hometown of Edinburgh, Scotland, known as the "Athens of the North," for its rich culture of arts and science. Another was his grandfather, Alexander Bell, a well-known professor and teacher of elocution. Alexander's mother also had a profound influence on him, being a proficient pianist despite her deafness. This taught Alexander to look past people's disadvantages and find solutions to help them.
Alexander Graham Bell was homeschooled by his mother, who instilled in him an infinite curiosity about the world around him. He received one year of formal education in a private school and two years at Edinburgh's Royal High School. Though a mediocre student, he displayed an uncommon ability to solve problems. At age 12, while playing with a friend in a grain mill, he noted the slow process of husking the wheat grain. He went home and built a device with rotating paddles with sets of nail brushes that dehusked the wheat. It was his first invention.

Early Attempts to Follow His Passion
Alexander's father, Melville, followed in his father's footsteps, becoming a leading authority on elocution and speech correction. Young Alexander was groomed early to carry on in the family business, but he was ambitious and headstrong, which conflicted with his father's overbearing manner. Then, in 1862, Alexander's grandfather became ill. Seeking to be out of his father's control, Alexander volunteered to care for the elder Bell. The experience profoundly changed him. His grandfather encouraged his interests, and the two developed a close relationship. The experience left him with an appreciation for learning and intellectual pursuits, and transitioned him to manhood.
At 16, Alexander Graham Bell accepted a position at Weston House Academy in Elgin, Scotland, where he taught elocution and music to students, many older than he. At the end of the term, Alexander returned home and joined his father, promoting Melville Bell's technique of Visible Speech, which taught the deaf to align specific phonetic symbols with a particular position of the speech organs (lips, tongue, and palate).
Between 1865 and 1870, there was much change in the Bell household. In 1865, Melville Bell moved the family to London, and Alexander returned to Weston House Academy to teach. In 1867, Alexander's younger brother, Edward, died of tuberculosis. The following year, Alexander rejoined the family and once again became his father's apprentice.
He soon assumed full charge of his father's London operations while Melville lectured in America. During this time, Alexander's own health weakened, and in 1870, Alexander's older brother, Melville, Jr., also died of complications from tuberculosis.
On his earlier trip to America, Alexander's father discovered its healthier environment, and after the death of Melville, Jr., decided to move the family there. At first, Alexander resisted the move, for he was beginning to establish himself in London. But realizing his own health was in jeopardy, he relented, and in July 1870, the family settled in Brantford, Ontario, Canada. There, Alexander's health improved, and he set up a workshop to continue his study of the human voice.

Passion for Shaping the Future
In 1871, Melville Bell, Sr. was invited to teach at the Boston School for Deaf Mutes. Because the position conflicted with his lecture tour, he recommended Alexander in his place. The younger Bell quickly accepted. Combining his father's system of Visible Speech and some of his own methods, he achieved remarkable success. Though the school had no funds to hire Bell for another semester, he had fallen in love with the rich intellectual atmosphere of Boston. In 1872, he set out on his own, tutoring deaf children in Boston. His association with two students, George Sanders and Mabel Hubbard, would set him on a new course.
After one of his tutoring sessions with Mabel, Bell shared with her father, Gardiner, his ideas of how several telegraph transmissions might be sent on the same wire if they were transmitted on different harmonic frequencies. Hubbard's interest was piqued. He had been trying to find a way to improve telegraph transmissions, which at the time could carry only one message at a time. Hubbard convinced Thomas Sanders, the father of Bell's other student, George, to help financially back the idea.
Between 1873 and 1874, Alexander Graham Bell spent long days and nights trying to perfect the harmonic telegraph. But his attention became sidetracked with another idea: transmitting the human voice over wires. The diversion frustrated Gardiner Hubbard. He knew another inventor, Elisha Gray, was working on a multiple-signal telegraph. To help Bell refocus his efforts, Hubbard hired Thomas Watson, a skilled electrician. Watson understood how to develop the tools and instruments Bell needed to continue the project. But Watson soon took interest in Bell's idea of voice transmission. Like many inventors before and since, the two men formed a great partnership, with Bell as the ideas man and Watson having the expertise to bring Bell's ideas to reality.
Through 1874 and 1875, Bell and Watson labored on both the harmonic telegraph and a voice transmitting device. Hubbard insisted that the harmonic telegraph take precedence, but when he discovered that the two men had conceptualized the mechanism for voice transmission, he filed a patent. The idea was protected, for the time being, but the device still had to be developed.
On March 10, 1876, Bell and Watson were experimenting in their laboratory. Legend has it that Bell knocked over a container of transmitting fluid and shouted, "Mr. Watson, come here. I want to see you!" The more likely explanation was that Bell heard a noise over the wire and called to his assistant. In any case, Watson heard Bell's voice through the wire and thus received the first telephone call.
To further promote the idea of the telephone, Bell conducted a series of public demonstrations, ever increasing the distance between the two telephones. At the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, in 1876, Bell demonstrated the telephone to the Emperor of Brazil, Dom Pedro II, who exclaimed, "My God, it talks!" Other demonstrations followed, each at a greater distance than the last. The Bell Telephone Company was organized on July 9, 1877. With each new success, Alexander Graham Bell was moving out of the shadow of his father.
On July 11, 1877, with his notoriety and financial potential increasing, Alexander Graham Bell married Mabel Hubbard, his former student and the daughter of Gardiner Hubbard, his initial financial backer. Over the course of the next year, Alexander's fame grew internationally and he and Mabel traveled to Europe for more demonstrations. While there, the Bells' first child, Elsie May, was born. Upon their return to the United States, Bell was summoned to Washington D.C. to defend his telephone patent from lawsuits by others claiming they had invented the telephone or had conceived of the idea before Bell.
Over the next 18 years, the Bell Telephone Company faced over 550 court challenges, including several that went to the Supreme Court, but none was successful. Despite these patent battles, the company continued to grow. Between the years 1877 and 1886, the number of people in the United States who owned telephones grew to more than 150,000, and during this time, improvements were made on the device, including the addition of a microphone, invented by Thomas Edison, which eliminated the need to shout into the telephone to be heard.

Pursuing His Passion
Despite his success, Alexander Graham Bell was not a businessman. As he became more affluent, he turned over business matters to Hubbard and turned his attention to a wide range of inventions and intellectual pursuits. In 1880, he established the Volta Laboratory, an experimental facility devoted to scientific discovery. There he developed a metal jacket to assist patients with lung problems, conceptualized the process for producing methane gas from waste material, developed a metal detector to locate bullets in bodies, and invented an audiometer to test a person's hearing. He also continued to promote efforts to help the deaf, and in 1890, established the American Association to Promote the Teaching of Speech to the Deaf.
In the last 30 years of his life, Bell was involved in a wide range of projects and pursued them at a furious pace. He worked on inventions in flight (the tetrahedral kite), scientific publications (Science magazine), and exploration of the earth (National Geographic magazine). Bell died peacefully, with his wife by his side, in Baddeck, Nova Scotia, Canada, on August 2, 1922. The entire telephone system was shut down for one minute in tribute to his life. Within a few months, Mabel also passed away. Alexander Graham Bell's contribution to the modern world and its technologies was enormous.
3/05/1849
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7/09/1850
Zachary Taylor - 12th US President

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7/09/1850
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3/03/1853
Millard Fillmore - 13th US President

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1/01/1851
New York and Mississippi Valley Printing and Telegraph Company The New York and Mississippi Valley Printing and Telegraph Company, formed in 1851, would later become Western Union.
3/04/1853
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3/03/1857
Franklin Pierce - 14th US Presidnet

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1/18/1854
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12/13/1934
Thomas Watson This biography is taken from NNDB



Thomas Watson dropped out of school at 14, and worked as a bookkeeper and carpenter before being hired in a Boston machine shop. There he helped build some rudimentary machines per the design of Alexander Graham Bell, trying to make a "harmonic telegraph" that could send several dot-and-dash messages at once over the same telegraph wire. Bell hired Watson, and the two men jointly discovered that tones from a vibrating transmitter reed could be carried electrically by wire and audibly recreated. On 10 March 1876 they laid wire between two rooms on different floors of a boarding house, and Watson was adjusting the machinery in the lower room when he unexpectedly heard Bell's voice transmitted metallically -- "Mr. Watson, come here -- I want you." The machine had mumbled before, but this was the first time it carried words that were heard distinctly. According to the story often told by Watson in his later years, Bell had accidentally spilled acid on his clothes and called out in frustration, but both men were surprised that Watson had heard him through the wires.
Seven months later, on 9 October 1876, Bell and Watson spoke via telephones two miles apart in Massachusetts, an extended conversation about technical matters, while reporters on both sides of the conversation took notes. The matching transcripts were published side-by-side in newspapers, reporting on the breakthrough of "audible speech by telegraph". Watson has been largely forgotten by history, but he, of course, had constructed and installed both machines for that historic conversation, and early accounts of the telephone's invention routinely noted that it was the collaborative work of Bell and Watson, with Watson credited as "manufacturer of the first telephone". As Bell traveled seeking additional funding, Watson constructed the first telephone switchboards, and oversaw all manufacturing for their Bell Telephone Company. After several years, Watson's share of their royalties made employment optional, and the two men went their separate ways.
Watson then married, enjoyed an extended honeymoon in Europe, and tried his hand at farming, before establishing the Fore River Ship & Engine Company. The company started by building small marine engines, and as business thrived it eventually constructed the US Navy's first two 400-ton torpedo ships -- early destroyers -- before being bought out by Bethlehem Steel in 1913. On 25 January 1915, Watson and Bell shared another famous phone call, from New York City to San Francisco, celebrating the completion of the first transcontinental phone line. By then more than 13,000,000 telephones were in use worldwide.
In his many leisure years, Watson studied geology and toured as a Shakespearean actor, then settled in Braintree, Massachusetts, where he spent his last decades. He founded the Braintree Electric Light Company, joined a sect loosely associated with the Sufi branch of Islam, and served as President of the Boston Browning Society, a group dedicated to the poetry of Robert Browning.
1/01/1856
Western Union The New York and Mississippi Valley Printing Telegraph Company becomes Western Union.
1/01/1857
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7/28/1866
First Trans-Atlantic Cables Five attempts to lay the cable were made over a nine year period - in 1857, two in 1858, in 1856, and in 1866. The 1857 attemt was unsuccessful. The 1858 attempt was completed on August 5th. In September of 1858, attempts to achieve faster telegraph operation resulted in destructive voltage being applied to the cable. The effort was not tried again until 1865 and was completed on July 28, 1865. This cable remained in use for the next 100 years.


Map of the first trans-Atlantic cable
3/03/1857
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3/03/1861
James Buchanan - 15th US President

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1/01/1860
Last Commercial Semaphore Systems The last operational commercial semaphore system goes out of business in 1860. It was located in Algeria.
3/03/1861
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4/15/1865
Abrham Lincoln - 16th US President

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10/24/1861
First Transcontinental Telegraph System
4/15/1865
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3/03/1869
Andrew Johnson - 17th US President

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1/01/1866
Telegraph Act of 1866
3/04/1869
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3/03/1877
Ulysses S. Grant - 18th US President

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3/10/1876
Alexander Graham Bell Invents the Telephone

On March 10, 1876, the telephone was born when Alexander Graham Bell called to his assistant, "Mr. Watson! Come here! I want you!"


Watson's notes from the first telephone call.

He was not simply making the first phone call. He was beginning a revolution in communications and commerce. It spread a web of instantaneous information across towns, then a continent, then the world, and has greatly accelerated economic development.

Later in the same year, Alexander Graham Bell and his financial backer, Gardiner G. Hubbard, offered Bell's brand new patent (No. 174,465) to the Telegraph Company - the ancestor of Western Union. The president of the Telegraph Company, Chauncey M. DePew, appointed a committee to investigate the offer. The committee report has often been quoted. It reads in part:

The Telephone purports to transmit the speaking voice over telegraph wires. We found that the voice is very weak and indistinct, and grows even weaker when long wires are used between the transmitter and receiver. Technically, we do not see that this device will be ever capable of sending recognizable speech over a distance of several miles
Messer Hubbard and Bell want to install one of their "telephone devices" in every city. The idea is idiotic on the face of it. Furthermore, why would any person want to use this ungainly and impractical device when he can send a messenger to the telegraph office and have a clear written message sent to any large city in the United States?
The electricians of our company have developed all the significant improvements in the telegraph art to date, and we see no reason why a group of outsiders, with extravagant and impractical ideas, should be entertained, when they have not the slightest idea of the true problems involved, Mr. G. G. Hubbard's fanciful predictions, while they sound rosy, are based on wild-eyed imagination and lack of understanding of the technical and economic facts of the situation, and a posture of ignoring the obvious limitations of his device, which is hardly more than a toy...
In view of these facts, we feel that Mr. G. G. Hubbard's request for $100,000 for the sale of this patent is utterly unreasonable, since this device is inherently of no use to us. We do not recommend its purchase

Interestingly, many say similar things about open access fiber today... "Who needs all that bandwidth when DSL and cable modems are perfectly adequate..."

6/01/1876
First Telephone Line (between Somerville and Boston, MA)
3/04/1877
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3/03/1881
Rutherford B. Hayes - 19th US President

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1/28/1878
First Commercial Telephone Exchange The first commercial telephone exchange is opened in New Haven, Connecticut with 21 subscribers.
1/12/1881
First Commercial Long Distance Line The first commercial long distance line - 45 miles between Boston, Massachussets and Providence, Rhode Island - opens for calls.
3/04/1881
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9/19/1881
James A. Garfield - 20th US President

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9/19/1881
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3/03/1885
Chester A. Arthur - 21st US President

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3/04/1885
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3/04/1889
Grover Cleveland - 22nd US President

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3/04/1889
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3/03/1893
Benjamin Harrison - 23rd US President

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3/11/1892
Mechanical Switching The first automated mechanical switch (a Strowger step-by-step central office device supplied by the Automatic Electric Company), enabling limited direct dialing goes into production use in La Porte, Indiana.
3/04/1893
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3/03/1897
Grover Cleveland - 24th US President

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9/01/1894
FIrst Radio Equipment Guglielmo Marconi, Italian engineer, built his first radio equipment in 1894. By the end of September he could flip a switch and make a bell ring at the other end of his attic workspace. Originally, radio or radiotelegraphy was called "wireless telegraphy", which was shortened to "wireless". The prefix radio- in the sense of wireless transmission was first recorded in teh word radioconductor, coined by the French physicist Edouard Branly in 1897.
3/04/1897
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9/14/1901
William McKinley - 25th US President

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9/14/1901
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3/03/1909
Theodore Roosevelt - 26th US President

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8/13/1903
1903 Berlin Conference In 1903, Germany sponsored a "prelimiary conference concerning wireless telegraphy", held in Berlin, which reviewed some of teh outstanding international issues related to the developing technology. Although the conference found some areas of agreement, there were still unresolved disputes, especially about intercommunication between stations owned by different companies. The Conference's Final Protocol outlined issues which the governments of the participating countries were asked to review, pending a proposed international convention, which convened in 1906.

From Thomas H. White United States Early Radio History
7/24/1904
1904 Roosevelt Board In 1904, various U.S. government agencies, including the Navy, the Department of Agriculture, and the Army's Signal Corps had all begun setting up their own radio transmitters, with little coordination between the various departments. President Theodore Roosevelt appointed a board, consisting of representatives from the various agencies, to prepare recommendations for coordinating government development of radio services. The 1904 "Roosevelt Board" Report - or formally, Wireless Telegraphy: Report of the Inter-Departmental Board Appointed by the President to Consider the Entire Question of Wireless Telegraphy in the Service of the National Government - proposed assigning most of the review of the oversight of government radio to the Navy Department, plus significant restrictions on commercial stations. (a review of the development of U.S. regulation policies through 1904 appears in the The Origins of Regulation chapter of Linwood S. Howeth's 1963 book, History of Communications-Electronics in the United States Navy).

From Thomas H. White United States Early Radio History
11/03/1906
1906 Berlin Convention A second international radio conference was held in Berlin, Germany in 1906 to deal with issues left over from the 1903 Conference. The result was a comprehensive agreement, the International Wireless Telegraph Convention (Convention Rediotelegraphique Internationale), which was adopted on the November 3, 1906, and became effective July 1, 1908. Although U.S. representatives signed the agreement in 1906, the U.S. Senate did not ratify the Berlin Convention until April 3, 1912 and the President proclaimed U.S. adherence to the Convention effective May 25, 1912. (An overview of the effect of the 1906 Berlin Convention is included in the Renewed Efforts to Establish Control chapter of Linwood S. Howeth's 1963 History of Communications-Electronics in the United States Navy)

From Thomas H. White United States Early Radio History
3/04/1909
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3/03/1913
William Howard Taft - 27th US President

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6/01/1910
Mann-Elkins Act Congress passed the Mann-Elkins Act in June 1910. It amended the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887 expanding the Interstate Commerce Commission's (ICC) responsibilities to include the regulation of telephone, telegraph, and cable companies. The new law declared such companies to be common carriers subject to ICC reculations

From Answers Encyclopedia - What is the Mann-Elkins Act?
6/10/1910
The Wireless Ship Act of 1910 The Wireless Ship Act(Act to reuire apparatus on operators for radio communication on certain ocean steamers) was passed by the United States Congress in 1910 requiring all ships of the United States traveling over two hundred miles off the coast and carrying over fifty passengers to be equipped with wireless radio equipment with a range of one hundred miles. The legislation was prompted by a shipping accident in 1909 where a single wireless operator saved the lives of 1,200 people.
The Act did not alleviate the problem, existing at the time, of interference between multiple users of the radio spectrum. In fact, by mandating increased use by shipping, it may well have exacerbated the problem. There was already an ongoing conflict between amateur radio operators and teh U.S. Navy and private companies. Amateur radio enthusiasts regarded the new medium as a wide-open new frontier, free from government regulation and corporate influence. They fought against government and corporate encroachment in many ways, including by sending fake distress calls and obscene messages to naval radio stations, and forged naval commands sending navy boats on spurious missions. It was this, in addition to the public outcry after the sinking of the RMS Titanic and an international convention agreed in London, that caused Congress to replace the Wireless Ship Act with the Radio Act of 1912.

From Wikipedia - Wireless Ship Act of 1910
12/20/1910
ATT Acquires Controling Stake in Western Union
8/13/1912
Radio Act of 1912 The U.S. Congress finally passed a comprehensive Act to Regulate Radio Communication, which was signed by President Taft on August 13, 1912 and went into effect December 13, 1912.
Officially this new law implemented provisions of the 1906 Berlin Convention. However, a new International Radiotelegraphic Convention had been signed in London on July 5, 1912, to become effective July 1, 1913 and teh new U.S. law included many provisions which actually reflected standards of the soon-to-be ratified London Convention, most importantly, the requirement that most radio transmitters had to be licenced, plus the provision that radio operators now had to qualify for operator's licences, not just certification. (The Achievement of Federal Regulation chapter of Linwood S. Howeth's 1963 book History of Communications-Electronics in the United States Navy reviews U.S. regulatory activities from 1908 through the adoption of the 1912 Radio Act).

From Thomas G. White United States Early Radio History
10/30/1912
The Audion - The First Vacuum Tube

On Oct. 30, 1912, independent inventor Dr. Lee de Forest brought the audion, a three-element vacuum tube, to AT&T's engineering department.

De Forest's invention provided a small amount of amplification, and then broke down into a bright blue haze. However, Arnold recognized almost immediately that the blue haze was caused by ionization of residual gasses in the tube. If he increased the vacuum, thereby removing most of the residual gasses, the audion would become a practical amplifier. So on Arnold's recommendation, AT&T bought the patent rights from de Forest.

3/04/1913
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3/03/1921
Woodrow Wilson - 28th US President

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12/13/1913
Kingsbury Commitment

In response to Justice Department anti-monopoly pressure, AT&T issues the Kingsbury Commitment. Through the commitment, AT&T will divest its telegraph business, provide long distance connection to independent telephone systems, and seek Interstate Commerce Commission permission before acquiring any more independent telephone companies.

In 1914 AT&T ran a campaign suggesting the Company had very little ownership or control of local exchanges (See the Modern Mechanix article about the add here.

6/27/1914
Transcontinental Telephone Infrastructure Completed

The last pole of the transcontinental telephone line is placed in Wendover, Utah on June 27, 1914.

6/28/1914
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11/11/1918
World War I
1/25/1915
Transcontinental Telephone Service Inaugurated

AT&T began building the nation's original long distance network in 1885. Starting from New York, the network reached Chicago in 1892. But, because an electrical signal weakens as it travels down a wire, that distance was close to the limit for a line built of thick copper. With the 1899 introduction of loading coils, which slow the rate at which a signal weakens, construction proceeded west. By 1911, the network stretched as far as Denver, but had reached the distance limit for loading coils.

In 1908, AT&T President Theodore Vail had made a transcontinental telephone line a major goal, even though he knew the technology to build one did not exist. The next year, Chief Engineer John J. Carty raised the stakes when he announced in San Francisco that AT&T would open a transcontinental line in time for the city's 1915 exposition to mark the completion of the Panama Canal.

But, without a scientific breakthrough, AT&T couldn't make good on that bet. To improve the company's odds, Carty not only hired physicist Dr. Harold Arnold to study the amplification of electrical signals, he also spread the word in the scientific and electrical-engineering community that AT&T would pay handsomely for an electrical amplifying device.

On Oct. 30, 1912, independent inventor Dr. Lee de Forest brought the audion, a three-element vacuum tube, to AT&T's engineering department. De Forest's invention provided a small amount of amplification, and then broke down into a bright blue haze. However, Arnold recognized almost immediately that the blue haze was caused by ionization of residual gasses in the tube. If he increased the vacuum, thereby removing most of the residual gasses, the audion would become a practical amplifier. So on Arnold's recommendation, AT&T bought the patent rights from de Forest.

By summer 1913, AT&T had tested high-vacuum tubes on the long distance network. And that fall, the company began constructing the line west from Denver and upgrading the line to the east. On June 27, 1914, AT&T completed the line, erecting the last pole at Wendover, Utah.

Only one problem remained: AT&T had connected the continent before the Panama-Pacific exposition was ready. So the company waited, and on Jan. 25, 1915, opened the line with great fanfare and celebrations in San Francisco and New York

In ceremonies to celebrate the first transcontinental line, Alexander Graham Bell, in New York, speaks to Thomas Watson in San Francisco, repeating the first complete sentence transmitted by telephone, "Mr. Watson - come here - I want you." Watson responds that it will take him a little longer than it did the first time.

4/06/1917
through
11/11/1918
US Involvement in World War I
7/01/1917
Air to Ground - Ground to Air Radio Communications
7/31/1918
through
7/30/1919
Nationalization of US Telephone and Telegraph Systems
1/01/1920
KDKA KDKA, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, becomes the first US commercial radio station.
3/04/1921
through
8/02/1923
Warren G. Harding - 29th US President

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8/03/1923
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3/03/1929
Calvin Coolidge - 30th US President

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9/09/1926
The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) The National Broadcastign Co. (NBC) was incorporated by the Racio Corporation of America, which had originated as Marconi Wireless.
2/23/1927
Radio Act of 1927 Prior to 1927, radio was regulated by the United States Department of Commerce. Commerce Secretary Herbert Hoover played a strong role in shaping radio. His powers were limited by federal court decisions, however; in particular, he was not allowed to deny broadcasting licenses to anyone who wanted one. The result was that many people perceived the airwaves to suffer from "chaos," with too many stations trying to be heard on too few frequencies. Others believed the government simply wanted to control content. (Initially only two frequencies were available for broadcasting with one of these being reserved for "Crop reports and weather forecasts.") After several failed attempts to rectify this situation, Congress finally passed the Radio Act of 1927, which transferred most of the responsibility for radio to a newly created Federal Radio Commission. (Some technical duties remained the responsibility of the Radio Division of the Department of Commerce.)
The five-person FRC was given the power to grant and deny licenses, and to assign frequencies and power levels for each licensee. The Commission was not given any official power of censorship, although programming could not include "obscene, indecent, or profane language." In theory, anything else could be aired. In practice, the Commission could take into consideration programming when renewing licenses, and their ability to take away a broadcaster's license enabled them to control content to some degree.
The Commission also had little power over networks; in fact, the Radio Act of 1927 made almost no mention of the radio networks (notably NBC and, a bit later CBS) that were in the process of dominating radio. The only mention of radio networks was vague: The Commission (the Federal Radio Commission) shall "Have the authority to make special regulations applicable to stations engaged in chain broadcasting."
The act did not authorize the Federal Radio Commission to make any rules regulating advertising. Advertising was mentioned in the act with only slightly more authority than networking; merely requiring advertisers to identify themselves:
"All matter broadcast by any radio station for which service, money, or any other valuable consideration is directly paid, or promised to, or charged to, or accepted by, the station so broadcasting, from any person, firm, company, or corporation, shall at the time the same is so broadcast, be announced as paid for or furnished as the case may be, by such person, firm, company, or corporation."
A forerunner of the "equal-time rule" was stated in section (18) of the Radio Act of 1927 which ordered stations to give equal opportunities for political candidates. The act did vest in the Federal Radio Commission the power to revoke licenses and give fines for violations of the act.
The Radio Act of 1927 divided the country into five geographical zones. Each zone was represented by one of the five Commissioners. The 1928 reauthorization of the Radio Act included a provision, called the "Davis Amendment" after its sponsor Ewin L. Davis, that required each zone to have equal allocations of licenses, time of operation, station power, and wavelength. This greatly complicated things for the Commissioners; they were required to deny station applications to otherwise qualified candidates simply because the new station would put a particular state or zone over its quota. For example, the northeast had a greater population than the southwest, but was limited to the same number of stations as more sparsely populated areas. Likewise, many small communities in the southwest could have added a local station without increasing interference (because of their remoteness), but were prevented from doing so by the Davis Amendment.
Although the Commission's primary responsibility was radio, on February 25, 1928, Charles Jenkins Laboratories of Washington, DC, became the first holder of a television license from the Federal Radio Commission.
There were even a few amateur radio stations authorized to broadcast television. Among them was Mel Dunbrack, W1BHD-TV, who began broadcasting mechanical television in the 1920s, and Truett Kimzey, W5AGO, who began broadcasting television in March 1934.

From Wikipedia - Federal Radio Commission
4/07/1927
First Public Demonstration of Television over Wire
2/25/1928
First Television License Granted First television license granted to Charles Jenkins Laboratories of Washington, DC.
3/04/1929
through
3/03/1933
Herbert Hoover - 31st US President

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5/23/1929
Broadband Coaxial Cable

Lloyd Espenschied and Herman Affel applied for a patent for broadband coaxial cable, the first broadband transmission medium, on May 23, 1929.


In 1949, the 20th anniversary of the invention of the coaxial cable system, Lloyd Espenschied (left) and Herman Affel reflect on the evolution of the cable. Espenschied holds a section of the early experimental coaxial cable that he and Affel developed; Affel holds a section of the type of cable that was being laid throughout the Bell System in the 1940s.

3/03/1933
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4/12/1945
Franklin Delano Roosevelt - 32nd US President

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6/19/1934
Communications Act of 1934 - Establishment of the FCC The Communications Actof 1934 was a United States federal law enacted as Public Law Number 416, Act of June 19, 1934, ch. 652, 48 Stat. 1064, by the 73rd Congress, codified as Chapter 5 of Title 47 of teh United States Code, 47 U.S.C. ss 151 et seq.
The Act replaced teh Federal Radio Commission with teh Federal Communications Commission (FCC). It also transferred regulation of interstate telephone services from the Interstate Commerce Commission to the FCC.
The stated purposes of the Act are "regulating interstate and foreign commerce in communication by wire and radio s as to make available, so far as possible, to all the people of the United States a rapid, efficient, nationwide, and worldwide wire and radio communication service with adwquate facilities at reasonable charges, for the purpose of the national defense, and for the purpose of securing a more effective exectuion of this policy by centralizing authority heretofore granted by law to several agencies and by granting additional authority with respect to interstate and foreign commerce in wire and radio communication, there is hereby created a commission to be known as the 'Federal Communications Commission', which shall be constituted as hereinafter provided, and which shall execute and enforce the provisions of this Act."
On January 3, 1996, the 104th Congress of the United States amended or repealed sections of the Communications Act of 1934 with the new Telecommunications Act of 1996. It was the first major overhaul of American telecommunications policy in nearly 62 years.

From Wikipedia - Communications Act of 1934
4/25/1935
First Round-the-World Telephone Call The first "round-the-world" telephone call is made between Walter S. Gifford, Presidnet of AT&T and T. G. Miller, Vice President of Long Lines with Gifford and Miller sitting in separate rooms of the same building. The call traversed 23,000 miles of wire and radio channels.
11/30/1936
Multi-Channel Coaxial Cable Introduced into the Telephone Network
9/01/1939
through
8/02/1945
World War II
12/07/1941
through
8/02/1945
U.S. Involvement in World War II
4/12/1945
through
1/20/1953
Harry S. Truman - 33rd US President

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7/01/1945
Memex Proposal (the Web before the Web) Vannevar Bush (Science Advisor to president Roosevelt during World War II) proposes Memex - a conceptual machine that can store vast amounts of information, in which users have the ability to create information trails. links of related texts and illustrations, which can be stored and used for future reference.
6/17/1946
1st Commercial Mobile Telephone Call

On June 17, 1946, a driver in St. Louis, Mo., pulled out a handset from under his car's dashboard, placed a phone call and made history. It was the first mobile telephone call.

A team including Alton Dickieson and D. Mitchell from Bell Labs and future AT&T CEO H.I. Romnes, worked more than a decade to achieve this feat. By 1948, wireless telephone service was available in almost 100 cities and highway corridors. Customers included utilities, truck fleet operators and reporters. However, with only 5,000 customers making 30,000 weekly calls, the service was far from commonplace.

6/01/1948
Dawn of Cable Television Cable television, formerly known as Community Antenna Television or CATV, was born in teh mountains of Pennsylvania in the late 1940's. During this time, there were only a few television stations, located mostly in larger cities like Philadelphia. People who didn't live in a city, or in a location where signals could be received easily, were unable to see television. John Walson, an appliance store owner in the small town of Mahanoy City, had difficulty selling telvision sets to local residents because reception in the area was so poor. The problem seemed to be the location of the town: in a valley and nearlly 90 air miles from the Philadelphia television transmitters. Naturally, the signals could not pass through the mountain, and clear reception was virtually impossible, except on the ridges outside of town.
To solve his problem, Mr. Walson put an antenna on top of a large utility pole and installed it on the top of a nearby mountain. Television signeals were received, and transported over twin lead antenna wire down to his store. Once people saw these early results, television sales soared. It became his responsibility to improve the picture quality by using coaxial cable and self-manufactured "boosters" (amplifiers) to bring CATV to the homes of customers who bought television sets
And so, cable television was born.
10/01/1948
The Mathematical Theory of Communication

Considered the Magna Carta of communication, Shannon's Information Theory first appeared more than 50 years ago in his 1948 Bell System Technical Journal paper "The Mathematical Theory of Communication."

Information Theory describes an ideal communications system in which all information sources -- people speaking, computer keyboards, video cameras -- have a "source rate" measured in bits per second. The channel through which the source's data travels has a "capacity," also measured in bits per second. Information can be transmitted only if the source rate does not exceed the channel's maximum capacity, now known as the Shannon limit.

30/6/1948
Transistors Demonstrated
7/21/1950
Answering Machine Field Tests Begin
1/20/1953
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1/20/1961
Dwight D. Eisenhower - 34th US President

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11/18/1953
50 Millionth Telephone Installed 50 millionth telephone installed on President Eisenhower's desk
8/26/1955
First Trans-Atlantic Telephone Cable
1/24/1956
Consent Decree of 1956 Looked on largely as an abdication of the Truman administration's suit by a more business friendly Eisenhower administration, the consent decree of 1956 did have two dritical unintended consequences:
  1. It kept AT&T and Western Electric out of the computer business. This probably had significant impact on the long-term development of computerized telephony and may have dampened the progress of packet switching as a preferred technology over circuit switching.
  2. It left many in the Justice Department feeling betrayed. This sense of betrayal and Justice's desire to reclaim its good name probably played atainst AT&T as the Department moved towards the 1974 suit that ultimately led to divestiture.
11/8/1956
Husha-A-Phone v. US and FCC Hush-A-Phone v. United States, 238 F.2d(DC Cir. 1956) was a seminal ruling in United States telecommunications law decided by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Hush-A-Phone Corporation marketed a small, cup-like device which mounted on the speaking party's phone, reducing the risk of conversations being overheard and increasing sound fidelity for the listening party. AT&T, citing the Communications Act of 1934, chiw stated in part that the company had the right ot make charges and dictate "the classifications, practices, and regulations affecting such charges," claimed the right to "forbid attachment to the telephone of any device 'not furnished by the telephone company'" During this era, the phones were leased from the phone company, not owned by the consumer.
Initially, the FCC found in AT&T's favor; it found that the device was a "foreign attachment" subject to AT&T control and that unrestricted use of the device could, in the commission's opinion, result in a general dterioration of the quality of telephone service.
The court's decision, which exonerated Hush-A-Phone and prohibited further interference by AT&T toward Hush-A-Phone users, stated that AT&T's prohibition of the device was not "just, fair, and reasonable," as required under the Communications Zct of 1934, as the device "does not physically impair any of the facilities of the telephone companies," nor did it "affect more than the conversation of th euser."
This victory for Hush-A-Phone is widely considered a watershed moment in the development of a secondary market for terminal equipment. It and the related Carterfone decision are seen as precursors to the entry of MCI Communications and the development of more pervasive telecom competition.

From Wikipedia - Hush-A-Phone v. United States
10/04/1957
Sputnik THe USR launches Sputnik, the first artificial earth satellite.
1/01/1958
Bell System's Data-Phone Service Data-Phone permits high-speed transmission of data over regular telephone circuits.
2/07/1958
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA or ARPA) In response to the launch of Sputnik, teh US Department of Defense issues directive 5105.15 establishing the Advanced Research Projects Agency.
11/17/1960
Electronic Switching Customer Trials Begin
1/20/1961
through
11/22/1963
John Fitzgerald Kennedy - 35th US President

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5/31/1961
Packet Switching Leonard Kleinrock of MIT publishes the first paper on packet switching theory: Information Flow in Large Communication Nets.
7/10/1962
Telstar 1 Telstar 1 launched and satellite telecommunications is born.
11/22/1963
through
1/20/1969
Lyndon B. Johnson - 36th US President

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1/12/1968
The 411 on 911 "911" announced as a nationwide emergency telephone number.
6/01/1968
Carterfone The Carterfone is a device invented by Thomas Carter. It manually connects a two-way mobile radio system to the public switched telephone network (PSTN), making it a direct predecessor to today's autopatch.
The device was acoustically, but not electrically, connected to the public switched telephone network. It was electrically connected to the base station of the mobile radio system, and got its power from the base station. All electrical parts were encased in bakelite, an early plastic. When someone on the CB radio wished to speak to someone on phone, or "landline" (e.g., "Central dispatch, patch me through to McGarrett"), the station operator at the base would dial the telephone number. When callers on the radio and on the telephone are both in contact with the base station operator, the handset of the operator's telephone is placed on a cradle in the Carterfone device. A voice-operated switch in the Carterfone automatically switches on the radio transmitter when the telephone caller is speaking; when he stops speaking, the radio returns to a receiving condition. A separate speaker is attached to the Carterfone to allow the base station operator to monitor the conversation, adjust the voice volume, and hang up his telephone when the conversation has ended.
This particular device was involved in a landmark United States regulatory decision related to telecommunications. In 1968, the Federal Communications Commission allowed the Carterfone and other devices to be connected directly to the AT&T network, as long as they did not cause harm to the system. This ruling (13 F.C.C.2d 420) created the possibility of selling devices that could connect to the phone system using a protective coupler, and opened the market to customer-owned equipment. The decision is often referred-to as "any lawful device", allowing later innovations like answering machines, fax machines, and modems (which initially used the same type of manual acoustic coupler as the Carterfone) to proliferate.
In February 2007, a petition for rulemaking was filed with the FCC by Skype, requesting the FCC to apply the Carterfone regulations to the wireless industry - which would mean that OEMs, portals and others will be able to offer wireless devices and services without the cellular operators needing to approve the handsets. However, on 1 April 2008 FCC chairman Kevin Martin indicated that he would oppose Skype's request.

From Wikipedia - Carterfone
1/01/1969
through
12/01/1969
IMPs Bolt Beranek and Newman, Inc. (BBN) was awarded the contract to build Interface Message Rocessors (IMPs). (In an interesting aside, Senator Edward Kennedy sent a telegram to BBN contratulating them on their million-dollar ARPA contract to build "interfaith" message processors and thanking them for their ecumenical efforts.)
BBN Bult the IMPs (Honeywell DDP-516 mini computers with 12K of memory) and AT&T provided connectivity (50 Kbps).
  • Node 1: September 2nd - UCLA
  • Node 2: October 1st - Stanford Research Institute (SRI)
  • Node 3: November 1st - University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB)
  • Node 4: December - University of Utah
1/20/1969
through
8/09/1974
Richard M. Nixon - 37th US President

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9/01/1969
LOG... Around Labor Day in 1969, BBN delivered an Interface Messae Processor (IMP) to UCLA that was based on a Honeywell DDP 516, and when they turned it on, it just started running. It was hooked by 50 Kbps circuits to two other sites (SRI and UCSB) in the four-node network: UCLA, Stanford Research Institute (SRI), UC Sanda Barbara (UCSB), and the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.
The plan was unprecedented: Kleinrock, a pioneering computer science professor at UCLA, and his small group of graduate students hoped to log onto the Stanford computer and try to send it some data. They would start by typing "login," and seeing if the letters appeared on teh far-off monitor.
"We set up a telephone connection between us and the guys at SRI...," Kleinrock said in an interview: "We typed the L and we asked on teh phone, 'Do you see the L?'
"'Yes, we see the L,' came the response.
"We typed the O, and we asked, 'Do you see the O?'
"'Yes, we see the O.'
"Then we typed the G, and the system crashed"...

Yet a revolution had begun.
7/01/1972
EMail Larry Roberts writes the first email management program (RD) to list, selectively read, file, forward, and respond to messages.
11/01/1972
HBO and the Birth of Pay Television Pay television was launched in November, 1972 when Service Electric offered Home Box Office or HBO, over its cable system in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. This represented the first successful pay cable service in teh nation. Despite the fact that HBO was only viewed by a few hundred people that first night, it has gone on to become the world's largest pay cable service with over 11,500,000 viewers. This is due in part because HBO's owner decided to later deliver its signals by satellite. HBO was the first programming service to use a satellite to distribute its programming. The way it works is a signal is beamed from earth to a satellite in a stationary orbit some 22,300 miles over the equator and bouned back to receivers on earth. By distributing by satellite, HBO's signal is available to cable operators throughout North America. Because it is so widely available, it had an advantage over earth-bound, microwave distributed services such as WOR-TV, the independent station in New York City.
5/05/1974
TCP/IP Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn publish A Protocol for Packet Network Intercommunication.
8/09/1974
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1/20/1977
Gerald Ford - 38th US President

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11/20/1974
through
1/08/1982
Federal Anti-Trust Suit Against ATT "The complaint... addresses the recurrence in the past three decades of anti competitive activity... which dates back almost to the foundation of AT&T."
1/20/1977
through
1/20/1981
Jimmy Carter - 39th US President

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3/01/1978
TCP Split into TCP and IP
1/20/1981
through
1/20/1989
Ronald Reagan - 40th US President

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1/08/1982
Feteral Anti-Trust Suit Against ATT Settled
8/19/1982
:-) Scott Fahlman suggests the use of :-) and :-( and text becomes emotional.
1/01/1983
Cutover from Network Controp Protocol (NCP) to TCP/IP
1/01/1984
ATT Consent Decree goes into Effect Prior to the AT&T Consent Decree, AT&T provided local telephone service through 22 company owned Bell Operating Companies.



As part of the divestiture, the Bell Operating COmpanies were reorganized into seven independent Regional Bell Operating Companies (RBOCs).



As of December 2006 (when SBC acquired AT&T and took on its former parent's name), the seven had consolidated into three - AT&T, Verizon, and Qwest (which was US West at divestiture and was acquired by CenturyLink in 2011).
5/15/1985
Symbolics.com Symbolics.com becomes the first registered domain name.
6/24/1986
S 2594 - Supercomputer Network Study Act of 1986 One of the pieces of legislation introduced by Al Gore as he "took point" on the legislation that made the Internet what it is today.
1/20/1989
through
1/20/1993
George H. W. Bush - 41st US President

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3/01/1989
Tim Berners-Lee proposes the World Wide Web
12/25/1990
Fiber to the Home Trials Begin in Cerrito, California
12/25/1990
Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau Implement the First HTTP Client Server Interaction
12/12/1991
Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) Web Server Goes Online On December 12, 1991, the first web server outside Europe came online at SLAC in Stanford, California. The next month, Berners-Lee demonstrated his Web application to more than 200 physicists at a conference in France. For his grand finale, he connected to the Stanford server and performed a search on the bibliographic database.
1/01/1993
Mosaic In January 1993, Marc Andreessen released a version of his new, handsome, point-and-click graphical browser for the web, designed to run on Unix machines.
In August, Andreessen and his co-workers at the center released free versions for Macintosh and Windows.

There are two ages of teh Internet - before Mosaic and after. The combination of Tim Berners-Lee's Web protocols, which provided connectivity, and Marc Andreessen's browser, which provided a great interface, proved explosive. In 24 months, the Web went from being unknown to being absolutely ubiquitous.

A brief History of Cyberspace by Bark Pesce, ZDNet, October 15, 1995.
1/20/1993
through
1/20/2001
Bill Clinton - 42nd US President

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2/01/1996
Telecommunications Act of 1996 The Telecommunications Act of 1996, the first successful attempt to rewrite the 62 year old Communications Act of 1934, was passed on 1 February 1996. The act refocuses federal communications policy making after years of confused, multi-agency and intergobernmental attempts to regulate and make sense of a burgeoning telecommunications industry. The bill relies on increased competition for development of new services in broadcasting and cable, telecommunications, information and vido services while it reasserts Congress' leadership role as the dominant communications policy maker.
Portions of the act became effective immediately after President Clinton signed the bill into law on 8 February 1996. Other sections of teh act will be implemented as the Federal Communications Agency (FCC) promulgates new rules and regulations to meet provisional requirements of the act. Noting the historic nature of the bill, President Clinton stated that the legislation would "stimulate investment, promote competition, provide open access for all citizens to the Inforamtion Superhighway." However, many public interest groupls are concerned that the act undermines public interst values of access. The act includes several highly controversial provisions that various interst groups claim restrict speech or violate constitutional protections. One section of teh bill prohibits the transmission of indecent and obscene material when the material is likely to be seen or read by a minor, and another provision requires broadcasters to formulate a ratings scheme for programs. After nearly four years of work, the bill's passage was eagerly awaited by government and industry leaders alike. Public interest and various industry groups, upset with provisions that would restrict First Amendment rights of telecommunications users vowed to challenge the constitutionality of those provisions in court. Within hours of the bill's passage, a number of civil liberties groups led by the ACLU sought an injunction against provisions of the Act.
The Telecommunications Act of 1996 is a complex reform of American communications policy making that attmepts to provide similar ground rules and a level playing field in virtually all sectors of the communications industries. The Act's prvisions fall into five general areas:
  • Radio and television broadcasting
  • Cable television
  • Telephone services
  • Internet and on-line computer services
  • Telecommunications equipment manufacturing

The Act abolishes many of the cross-market barriers that prohibited dominant players from one communications industry, such as telephone, from providing services in other industry sectors such as cable. New mergers and acquisitions, consolidations and integration of services previously barred under FCC rules, antitrust provisions of federal law, and the "Modified Final Judgement" (the ruling governing the 1984 break-up of AT&T) will be allowed for the first time, illustrating the belief by Congress that competition should replace other regulatory schemes as we enter a new century.

From The Museum of Broadcast Communication - U.S. Policy: Telecommunications Act of 1996
3/01/1997
DOCSIS and the Entry of Cable Providers into the Internet World Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS) is an international telecommunications standard that permits the addition of high-speed data transfer to an existing cable TV (CATV) system. It is employed by many cable television operators to provide Internet access over their existing hybrid fiber-coaxial (HFC) infrastructure.
The first specification was version 1.0, issued in March 1997, with revision 1.1 (adding qulaity of service (QoS) capabilities) following in April 1999. Because of increased demand for symmetric services such as IP telephony, DOCSIS 2.0 was released in December 2001. Most recently, the specification was revised to significangly increase transmission speeds (this time both upstream and downstream) and introduce support for Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6). This version, DOCSIS 3.0, was released in August 2006.
3/09/1999
Al Gore Invents the Internet Al Gore did not claim to invent the Internet. In an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN's "Late Edition," when asked to describe what distinguished him from his challenger for the Democratic presidential nomination, Senator Bill Bradley, Gore replied, inpart:
During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet. I took the initiative in moving environmental protection, improvements in our educational system.
Vint Cerf, who really can be called teh "Father of the Internet" responded to Gore's quote and the flap it caused with this email
1/20/2001
through
1/20/2009
George W. Bush - 43rd US President

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5/07/2007
OHIvey

After working with the UTOPIA project for a number of years, Paul Recanzone founded OHIvey to help municpalities across teh country secure their telecommunications independence through financially responsible ubiquitously deployed municipal open access fiber to the premises networks.

1/20/2009
through
1/20/2017
Barack Obama - 44th US President

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2/17/2009
American Recover and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)

President Obama signed into law the $787 billion stimulus package, which includes $7.2 billion for broadband grant and loan programs. The bulk of the funds directed at broadband - $4.7 billion - will be distributed through a program run by the Commerce Department, while $2.5 billion will fall under the jurisdiction of the Agriculture Department, giving particular emphasis to broadband deployment in rural areas.

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