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Alberta Online Encyclopedia
Alberta's Telephone Heritage
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Communications History

We check our e-mail before sending a fax at work. When 8:00 p.m. rolls around, we turn on our favourite television program. We fall asleep to the sound of music being broadcast over the radio. The telephone rings, and we answer it.

Most of us have never lived in a world lacking these luxuries, and it is easy to forget the technology behind them is less than 200 years old.

For tens of thousands of years before that, our ancestors could send personal messages only as far as their voices would naturally carry.

Now, after a mere century-and-a-half of particularly vigorous development, Canada boasts nearly 600 radio stations, 80 television stations, and nearly 1,000 Internet service providers.

We are connected to the world via nearly 20 million individual telephone lines and an additional 12 million cellular phones.

Our technology is such that we could hear a pin drop from 1,000 kilometres away—and most of us have ceased to marvel at the wonder of it.

Society has been shaped by voice mail and instant messaging—by having news and weather information available exactly when we want them—but none of this would be possible if not for those first steps taken so long ago

  • Early Communications—presents the early technologies including post and messenger service.

  • Telegraph Eradescribes the telegraph as a technological marvel in its own right but also as an important precursor of the telephone that expanded communication beyond the realm of print and face-to-face and enabled vast distances to be traversed.

  • Telephone Era—the transmission of sound electrically was an incredible achievement that impacted enormously on business, government and domestic communications. This section moves from invention to the establishment of mass telephone communications as the telephone moves from novelty to staple.

  • Current Technologythe end of the 20th century saw the coming of the Information Age and the Internet/World Wide Web, It involved the rethinking of telephone technology and the telecommunications industry from manufacturing to service, from service provider to user.

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