The Victorian Internet
The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century's On-Line Pioneers is a 1998 book by Tom Standage. It is about the development and uses of the electric telegraph during the second half of the 19th century and some of the similarities the telegraph shared with the Internet of the late 20th century.
The central idea of the book posits that of these two technologies, it was the telegraph that was the more significant, since the ability to communicate globally at all in real-time was a qualitative shift, while the change brought on by the modern Internet was merely a quantitative shift according to Standage.
The book describes to general readers how some of the uses of telegraph in commercial, military, and social communication were, in a sense, analogous to modern uses of the internet. A few rather unusual stories are related, about couples who fell in love and even married over the wires, criminals who were caught through the telegraph, and so on.
The culture which developed between telegraph operators also had some rather unexpected affinities with the modern Internet. Both cultures made or make use of complex text coding and abbreviated language slang, both required network security experts, and both attracted criminals who used the networks to commit fraud, hack private communications, and send unwanted messages.
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- Summary of the book: Victorian Internet
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