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    The Victorian Internet: the Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century's Online Pioneers (Paperback) By (author) Tom Standage

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    DescriptionBeginning with the Abbe Nollet's famous experiment of 1746, when he successfully demonstrated that electricity could pass from one end to the other of a chain of two hundred monks, Tom Standage tells the story of the spread of the telegraph and its transformation of the Victorian world. The telegraph was greeted by all the same concerns, hype, social panic and excitement that now surround the Internet, and Standage provides both a fascinating insight into the past and a context in which to think rather differently of today's concerns. Standage has a wonderful prose style and an excellent eye for the telling and engaging story. Popular history at its best.


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  • Full bibliographic data for The Victorian Internet

    Title
    The Victorian Internet
    Subtitle
    the Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century's Online Pioneers
    Authors and contributors
    By (author) Tom Standage
    Physical properties
    Format: Paperback
    Number of pages: 224
    Width: 122 mm
    Height: 196 mm
    Thickness: 20 mm
    Weight: 222 g
    ISBN
    ISBN 13: 9780753807033
    ISBN 10: 0753807033
    Classifications

    BIC subject category V2: HBG, HBLL
    BIC E4L: HIS
    Nielsen BookScan Product Class 3: T5.0
    LC subject heading: ,
    BIC subject category V2: PDR
    BISAC V2.8: HIS037000, SCI075000, TEC052000
    BIC subject category V2: KNTT
    LC subject heading:
    BISAC V2.8: HIS037030, BUS070060
    DC21: 384.109
    Thema V1.0: NHB, KNT, PDR
    Thema time period qualifier V1.0: 3M
    Illustrations note
    Colour 32
    Publisher
    Orion Publishing Co
    Imprint name
    Phoenix (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd )
    Publication date
    01 April 1999
    Publication City/Country
    London
    Author Information
    Tom Standage is science correspondent at the ECONOMIST. He is married and lives in Greenwich.
    Review text
    The telegraph, which now seems a curious relic, was once cutting-edge technology, every bit as hot, Standage reminds us, as today's Internet. Rapid delivery of messages to distant places was a wild dream for most of history; only on the eve of the French Revolution did a workable system come into existence. That first mechanical telegraph used visual signals relayed along a series of towers; but already scientists had experimented with signaling with electricity, which was thought to travel instantaneously. By the 1830s, Samuel Morse in the US and William Cooke in England had independently developed workable electric telegraphs. Curiously, neither had much initial luck finding backers. Morse's first demonstration of his device to Congress drew no support; even after a second demonstration won him funding, many congressmen believed they had seen a conjuring trick. Despite some dramatic successes - aswhen British police wired ahead of felons escaping by train and had them arrested in a distant city - it was some time before the telegraph was more than a high-tech toy. But by the mid-1840s, both British and American telegraphy companies were showing profits, and by the end of that decade, growth was explosive. And by then, the elaborate culture of the telegraph system was taking shape. Telegraph operators and messenger boys became familiar parts of the social landscape. There was a growth industry in telegraph-based jokes, anecdotes, seams, and even superstitions. The charge per word transmitted made messages terse; the expense made most people use them only to report deaths in the family or other grave news. Technical improvements - notably in the laying of submarine cables - eventually led to a worldwide network. Standage, most recently (and suitably) editor of the London Daily Telegraph's technology section, competently relates all this, and the eventual erosion of the telegraph's power by the telephone - which was at first seen merely as an improvement in the telegraph. A fascinating overview of a once world-shaking invention and its impact on society. Recommended to fans of scientific history. (Kirkus Reviews)