Tuesday, August 24, 2010

High tech under the sea

Telecommunications has lost its technology luster. The telecommunications industry seems to have commoditized itself overnight, although its been a few years since the industry was in growth mode. I went looking for some scrap of the past to show us when communication over great distance was really fresh and exciting.

Three years before South Carolina committed treasonous acts that pitched America into the Civil War, Frank Leslie published the most high-tech illustration ever seen. Leslie was a cutting-edge engraver, illustrator and newspaper owner. In 1858, he published this map of the first trans-Atlantic telegraph cable.

Click image to see full size

Leslie indulged a bit of exuberance here. There were five attempts to lay transatlantic telegraph cables beginning in 1857 before permanent connections were established in 1866. The first transatlantic connection was completed on August 5, 1858, by Atlantic Telegraph Company, led by Cyrus West Field.

It lasted three weeks.


BONUS: How many Frank Leslie's were there? Were they all the same gender? This piece at American Heritage is highly entertaining, especially for those who think the 19th century was all about Victorian  propriety, and shy & retiring women.

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