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
Incorporated of Calgary, which promises to revolutionize classrooms and
Research institutions are also making
significant contributions to communications technologies as wellthe
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.
"Broadening Horizons" by Grade Casselman
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