Ericsson’s History of Wireless Communication


Ericsson, the communications company started by that Swedish inventor who may have created one of the first car telephone systems—which, if you can believe the above image, actually tapped into existing telegraph lines, has a neat little video about the history of wireless communication.

Some of the classic tropes are a little grating like the claim that wireless has been around forever (“In the beginning, man resorting to shouting…”). But a lot of the archival footage is pretty illuminating. There’s video of Chappes’ telegraph in action; optical morse code systems; Lee de Forest’s triode; walkie-talkies and radar; and of course, lots and lots early automobile radio systems.

There are some interesting predictions about the future of telephony at the end of the video, which, made in 2001, came right before the advent of smart phones


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Erik Born

I’m an Andrew W. Mellon postdoctoral fellow in the Society for the Humanities and the Department of German Studies at Cornell University. My research and teaching focuses broadly speaking on relations between old media and new media, and particularly on questions of mobility.