Telecommunications Evolution Timeline

The term “telecommunications” was adopted by the Convention Internationale des Telecommunications held in Madrid in 1932. According to King (2003) “At this point, the telegraph, the telephone, and the radio were the only widely used telecommunications media” (p.65). Forms of media included under the umbrella of “telecommunications” has dramatically expanded since the early twentieth century.


The Telegraph was the first practical means of electronic communication. Samuel Morse developed and revolutionized long distance communication with the invention of Morse code in the early 1830s and 1840s.

Electric signals were transmitted over a wire laid between stations. The code was assigned a set of dots and dashes to represent each letter of the alphabet. Morse sent his first telegraph message in 1844 from Washington D.C to Baltimore Maryland.


The telephone system that has evolved into today’s multi-faceted telecommunications system began when Alexander Graham Bell invented the first telephone in 1876 (Barr, 2012). After the telephone, Bell invented the photo phone which would allow sound to be transmitted on a beam of light which today’s laser and fiber optic communication systems are founded.

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Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

Because of the need for a better way of determining who got to use what radio bands and for what purposes, The FCC was established by the Communications Act of 1934. The FCC was created as a direct successor to the Federal Radio Commission whose job it was to provide legislative oversight to the radio industry. Although the FCC changed many characteristics of the FRC, the same goal of reducing interference remained.

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Early Networks

In the 1960’s, the US Government reached out to computer vendors to develop some software and hardware so that its computers could communicate with each other and share information between agencies. In 1969, ARPNET (advanced research project agency network) was introduced which protected information flow between military installations by creating a network of geographically separated computers that could exchange information. ARPNET is considered the grandfather to the internet. This is when TCP/IP was established. It is now the standard for transmitting data over networks.


Wi-Fi was invented back in 1991 by NCR Corporation/AT&T. Wi-Fi was originally meant to be used in systems with speeds of 1Mbps/2Mbps. Vic Hayes is the inventor of Wi-Fi and other standards such as IEEE 802.11b, 802.11a, and 802.11g.

The World Wide Web (WWW)

In 1992, the World Wide Web is launched. Tim Berners-Lee is an independent contractor for CERN, who built ENQUIRE. It was a personal database of people and software models, but also a way to play with hypertext. He wanted a way for physicists around the globe to share data with no common machines or presentation software. In 1990, Berners-Lee had everything he needed to start the web. He had in play the HTTP, HTML, web browser, first HTTP server software, first web server, and the first web page to describe the whole project.

Telecommunications Act of 1996

In 1996, Congress passed the comprehensive Telecommunications Act in order to strike a balance between the needs of customers and providers, incumbents and new entrants, local and long distance companies, urban and rural areas, and regulatory agencies (Barr, 2012). This act opened the market to alternative local providers while preserving universal service.

Barr, J.E. (2012). The evolution of US Telephone Service. Hospitality Management, (), . Retrieved from

King, W.E. (2003). Telecommunications. Dictionary of American History. , (), 65-67. Retrieved from

Cite this page

Telecommunications Evolution Timeline. (2016, Jun 13). Retrieved from

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