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Communication

Communications technology has made vast leaps forward in the past century. Telephones have become household items (especially advantageous in a country as large as Canada), as have radios and televisions. In the past few decades, computers have revolutionized the field yet again, with the advent of the internet and the World Wide Web.

Patents from Alberta during the age of the independent inventor, the early decades of the 20th century, often involved improvements to writing implements or non-electronic media. Huert McLaren Hutchison, of Edmonton, patented three devices, including a fountain pen in 1935 that was self-supporting and rolled around on ball bearings. Marion George of Edmonton invented an eraser cleaner the same year. In 1932, Eugene Duncan of Banff came up with a closeable postcard.

While these inventions of the 1930s showed Albertans spirit for innovation in communications, the potential for electronic inventions occurred to Albertans quite early. The first patent related to communications was called a cycloramic apparatus, invented by Robert Gordon of Calgary in 1907. It consisted of a projector projecting an image onto a screen and a device that rocked the projector, which, of course, made the picture rock too. 

Some inventors displayed remarkable foresight, inventing devices that were far ahead of their time. Roman Gonsett, for instance, in 1912, made a large (some might say bulky) telephone answering machine, decades before such devices became widespread. Gonsett also invented what he eventually called the Fairy Phonograph, which tastefully married two existing devices: the phonograph and the electric lamp.

As the years have passed, communications inventions have, not surprisingly, become increasingly hi-tech. One of the most significant communications inventions to illustrate this point is Java. Developed by Albertan James Gosling, working for Sun Microsystems in California, Java is a computing language which has, among other things, made the World Wide Web more interactive. Another invention, the SMART board, is a hi-tech interactive whiteboard created by SMART Technologies Incorporated of Calgary, which promises to revolutionize classrooms and business meetings. 

Research institutions are also making significant contributions to communications technologies as well—the University of Calgary's Dr. Len Bruton, for instance, has developed both analog and digital filters that have improved the sound quality in touch-tone telephones and other electronic equipment worldwide.

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