Communication Technologies That Will Change Our Lives. (Science & Technology)

By Molitor, Graham T. T. | USA TODAY, January 2003 | Go to article overview

Communication Technologies That Will Change Our Lives. (Science & Technology)


Molitor, Graham T. T., USA TODAY


COMMUNICATION ERA undertakings dominate postindustrial economies. Since the late 1970s, knowledge, information, education, and entertainment enterprises in the U.S. have accounted for over 50% of all jobs. Today, this group of activities generate about 66% of jobs and Gross Domestic Product. These calculations vary, depending upon what is counted. One thing about this era is clear, though--brains, not brawn, have become the key resource.

Computers, ranging from massive supercomputers to ubiquitous handheld "personal assistant" PCs, are the economic linchpin. The current information revolution ushered in a vast new range of services: pay cable TV; interactive television; teleconferencing; video recording; electronic funds transfer systems, shopping, and mail; facsimile newspapers and specialized magazines on video; electronic plebiscites on vital public policy issues; automatic home security services (fire, police, flood, storm, etc.); special services for the handicapped; and home computers to handle a vast growing range of activities.

Solid-state devices, microelectronics, computers, and communications equipment of all kinds are today's economic mainsprings. Computer household penetration rose from 27% in 1990 to 51% in 2001. Integrated circuit chips fashioned from flyspecks of rare earths and traces of silicon marshal knowledge and information that can change the fate of a business or an empire.

Better communication means have been introduced throughout history. Improved methods of communication displace the less-effective and become the dominant mode. Spoken words preceded the handwritten word, which gave way to the mechanically printed word, that was eclipsed by the telegraph and telephone. Four major communication modes, each one more efficient than the preceding one, dominated eras of American economic growth over the past century: the low-cost "penny press," which made inexpensive mass-circulation newspapers and periodicals available to an increasingly literate populace; regular radio broadcasting that began during the mid 1920s; television, starting in the 1950s; and computers that flooded consumer markets by the late 1970s.

Computers of the 1960s and 1970s were big, costly, few in number, and limited to top-management use. During the 1980s, desktop PCs lopped off middle-management paper-pushers, and decentralized decisionmaking. Takeoff during the 1990s greatly enlarged computer networking, and the Internet provided access to the fund of human knowledge.

Science constantly seeks faster, better, more-efficient, less-costly, and more-streamlined technologies. Communication advances can be categorized into at least seven successive stages of development:

1. Physical/mechanical. Thomas Alva Edison's primitive phonograph utilizing a mechanically vibrating pickup and diaphragm to reproduce sound, commercially introduced in 1877, exemplifies this introductory stage. Forerunners of modern computers can be traced back to the hand-manipulated abacus. Later on came Charles Babbage's calculating engine that was partially constructed between 1822 and 1871.

2. Electromechanical. Alexander Graham Bell's telephone, introduced in 1876, demonstrates this type of innovation using electric pulses to vibrate a diaphragm or open and close an audible circuit. Computer antecedents are characterized by Herman Hollerith's electrically operated tabulator, which utilized printed punched cards, that was used to process 1890 census data.

3. Fully electronic. Guglielmo Marconi's first wireless telegraph signals (precursor to the radio), demonstrated in 1895, represent this principle. The earliest numeric analog computer, the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC), was developed in 1946.

4. Electro-optical. This development is characterized by telephone analog switching systems converting signals to photonics.

5. Optical/photonic. Light transmission is the latest communications frontier. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Communication Technologies That Will Change Our Lives. (Science & Technology)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.