When Old Technologies Were New

When Old Technologies Were New : Thinking About Electric Communication in the Late Nineteenth Century

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This book describes how two newly invented communications technologies - the telephone and the electric light - were publicly envisioned, in specialized engineering trade journals as well as in more popular media, at the end of the nineteenth century. Much of the focus is on the telephone, particularly how it disrupted established social relations (people did not know how to to respond to its use or impact) and how society tried to bring it under a carefully prescribed pattern of proper usage. While the emphasis is on the way professionals in the electronics field tried to control the new media, their broader social impact is also discussed.

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  • Paperback | 296 pages
  • 137.2 x 208.3 x 21mm | 362.87g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New YorkUnited States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 14 pp halftone plates
  • 0195063414
  • 9780195063417
  • 442,489

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'A wide-ranging, informative, and entertaining account of the early years of electric and electronic development, this book rethinks the traditional artifactual and institutional approaches to media history.' Electrical Review 'full of aptly chosen anecdotes and quotations from contemporary newspapers and magazines, some of which are very amusing' Antony Anderson, New Scientist 'This is an important book, not only for media historians but also for electrical engineers who are interested in learning about how the public reacted to the introduction of electrical inventions and how these affected social habits and customs.' R.W. Burns, Life Review 'splendid history of the late nineteenth century's version of the information technology revolution ... Marvin has told a fascinating story and drawn on a wealth of contemporary material.' Roger Silverstone, Times Higher Education Supplement 'This most informative book helps the modern reader to comprehend the speed at which electricity-dependent technologies have altered human perceptions of humankind and the world.' Choice 'engaging book ... Professor Marvin's research is firmly based on the technical literature of the time, and fluently expressed ... many intriguing questions are implicit in her presentation.' American Studies International 'not only is the book a good read, but also it is a valuable source book for writers, historians and researchers pursuing the history of, or writing on, the subject of mass communications ... The anecdotes are often highly amusing, but mostly are entertaining or informative ... an important book' Electronics and Communications Engineering

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About Carolyn Marvin

Carolyn Marvin is Associate Professor of Communication, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania.

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