There’s an article at the Wired site reminding us that it was on July 27, 1866 that the first successful undersea cable between Europe and North America was completed. (This was a telegraph cable — sorry, no streaming video in this release.) In some ways, it represented a very impressive rate of technological progress. It had been just 22 years since Samuel Morse’s historic first telegraphic transmission between Baltimore and Washington DC. Not only had the use of the telegraph spread, but the US found the time to have a Civil War.
From today’s perspective, it’s almost impossible to imagine living in that era. The telegraph was the first widespread means by which information could be spread faster than a person could travel. Before the completion of the trans-Atlantic cable, an event in London could not be known in New York until enough time had passed for a ship to cross the ocean.
Thinking about the change in communications possibilities implied by that cable may help us make some more sense of the changes we’re experiencing today.