Key characters in the development of the telecommunications industry
Mobile technologies are the product of years and years of development, from theories of elementary physics, to the curiosity of characters who have left behind the bases to enjoy what we keep in our pockets today.
The telecommunications industry is in constant motion, it is about love, fighting, but above all about ingenuity and vision. Today the world is eager to reach 5G, but two centuries ago the only idea of transmitting sounds was the one that revealed more than one.
That is why in this telecommunications special we review some of the names whose contributions have been fundamental to the development of this industry.
Characters of the world and of Colombia
At first glance, its name may not tell us much, but when we talk about the Morse Code, the imaginary changes.
Morse's calling was painting, but on a trip from the United States to Europe, he met Charles T. Jackson, an enthusiast for the progress of electricity. Thereafter his life changed and Morse began work on what would later become the electromagnetic telegraph (1835).
Together with Alfred L. Vail they improved the telegraph, in 1837 it was officially patented and later, in 1838, they created the Morse code of dots and dashes. On May 24, 1844, the first message was transmitted on this line, it was between Washington (Morse) and Baltimore (Vail), and it contained the biblical phrase "What hath God Wrought!" (What God has done!).
Continuing the story of the Morse and Vail electromagnetic telegraph, the next fact was the creation of the company that started the exploitation of these patents, the Magnetic Telegraph Company, created by Amos Kendall.
He was a lawyer, politician, and journalist, one of the most relevant figures in the transformation of the media in the United States.
Initially, Samuel Morse offered him a position as business manager at his new telegraph company in 1845. Kendall accepted and would receive a 10% commission on patent licenses. With those commissions founded the Magnetic Telegraph Company, with which he managed to make this a business.
He put into operation a telegraph line between Washington and New York; Then Boston, Ohio, and more cities came together, making a network along the Mississippi River. He subsequently sold the company to the American Telegraph Company in 1859.
Although history recognized Alexander Graham Bell as the creator of the phone, in reality its creator was the Italian Antonio Meucci, and in 2002 The United States Congress admitted this through resolution 269.
Antonio Santi Giuseppe Meucci studied mechanical and industrial engineering in Florence, but it was behind the scenes that he began to implement some innovations. He worked in theaters where He installed a tin can telephone to establish communication between the stage and the ceilings. Later he became interested in the discoveries related to electric waves and while living in Cuba he also developed a treatment to combat headaches and bone pain with electric shocks (because his wife suffered from rheumatoid arthritis).
In 1850, he settled in New York, where he concentrated on developing a technology that would allow him to transmit sounds, while meeting other Italian immigrants. It was at home that he created a device to transport sound waves through a cable, the one who called the phone and with whom he communicated with his sick wife (1871). This is today known as the first telephone in history. However, due to financial difficulties, he was unable to patent it and for this same reason his wife sold the plans and prototypes to a lender. Meucci tried to get them back, but they had already been sold. For years he fought and sought justice, but was unsuccessfully confronted by the powerful Bell Telephone Company (now AT&T).
He didn't invent the phone but he did patent it and its contribution in the history of the telecommunications industry cannot be ignored. He also worked on inventions such as the harmonic telegraph, the phonoautograph, and is credited with the first international call, among other things.
He was a researcher and scientist from an early age, interested in electricity and sound. In fact, he was a speech therapist, he worked in speech therapy with deaf people.
In 1876 Bell patented the telephone and went down in history as the author of the method and apparatus for transmitting vocal or other sounds telegraphically.. Later he made the first call, from one room to another, in which he pronounced the famous phrase: “Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you. " Then on January 25, 1915, Bell made the first transcontinental phone call, it was between New York and San Francisco.
Bell offered the patent for the telephone to the Western Union Telegraph Company, the company that operated the telecommunications system at the time, the telegraph. However, the company was not interested and before the rejection he created the Bell Telephone Company, in Boston, which was later called 'American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T), and which would become the main telecommunications provider in the world. Meanwhile, Western Union was dedicated to sending money.
As additional information, Emma M. Nutt Day was the first (female) telephone operator. She was hired by Alexander Graham Bell and more women would later join this position.
5. Elisha gray
Perhaps it is the least known name in this legal triad regarding the phone. He was the one who was late in the race and Bell has been accused of plagiarizing Gray.
Gray is also renowned for inventing the first electric music synthesizer in 1876. He realized that he could control the sound of an electromagnetic circuit and that's where the Musical Telegraph came from.
Going back to telecommunications, on February 14, 1876 Elisha Gray filed for a phone patent, but Mr. Bell had gone before (two hours before). The designs of both were similar, and in fact Gary's was better (hence the plagiarism theory), but ultimately the patent went in Bell's favor in March of the same year.
This episode has inspired works like the book The Telephone Patent Conspiracy of 1876 (The Telephone Patent Conspiracy) published in 2000.
With the phone on the map, this invention had become a fundamental tool for companies, but human error was not lacking. The commutation was manual and there were cases such as the one that the telephone operators in charge turned out to be directing the call to the competitor's business. Strowger then created a new device to bypass operator intervention, invented a switch.
Patent US447918 was granted in 1891, for this invention, a selector system that had a drum of 10 rows and 100 contacts for each, connected to the subscribers' lines. From there came the Strowger Automatic Telephone Exchange company, which would later become the world's first automatic telephone switching center.
He was a German physicist who discovered the propagation of electromagnetic waves, and that is why the unit of measurement for frequency is called the hertz (Hertz) in his honor.
In 1887 he demonstrated the propagation of electromagnetic action in space. He put into practice the electromagnetic theory of light, which James Maxwell had formulated in 1884. Telecommunications exist thanks to the development of Hertz.
8. Nikola Tesla
He is known as one of the leading electrical engineers in the United States and one of the most important scientists in history. He was born in present-day Croatia in 1846 and moved to the United States in 1884.
Registered over 300 patents, worked at Thomas Edison's company and their confrontations have been the origin of all kinds of stories. Among other things, Telsa developed in 1882 a telephone repeater or amplifier, which may have been the first loudspeaker; in 1891 he developed the Tesla Coil, an electrical transformer and a wireless telecommunications station (the Wardenclyffe Torre) with which he aspired to carry electricity and communications but did not prove to have transmitted electricity without wires.
He was unable to continue his work on this project due to lack of funding, but it served as a reference and inspiration to reach wireless communication.
Her dream was to bring free energy to everyone and wirelessly. Which collided with all economic powers.
He was an Italian electronic engineer and inventor, one of the main promoters of long-distance radio transmission. He experimented with electromagnetic waves for telegraphic communication and managed to establish wireless communications through the English Channel (between France and England) in 1899. He used Morse's invention, but without wires, and his work was decisive in events such as the shipwreck. of the Titanic (although the help was delayed in arriving, the contribution of Marconi allowed to request it).
He has been called the inventor of radio, although this was certainly a development achieved thanks to the contribution of different people. Here there has been a great controversy, because in 1895 Nikola Tesla had invented a system to transmit messages without cables, but it was Marconi who used it in the mentioned transmission on the English channel. Tesla created it and Marconi patented it.
In 1909 he received the Nobel Prize in Physics together with Carl Ferdinand Braun, in recognition of the development of wireless telegraphy.
In 1943, the United States Supreme Court recognized Nikola Tesla as the inventor of the radio and returned the patent to him.
10. Hedy Lamarr
He was a movie star and he was behind the widened spectrum (spread spectrum, spread spectrum, spread spectrum o SS is a modulation technique used in telecommunications for the transmission of digital and radio frequency data), that gave rise to wifi technology. One of its biographers, Richard Rhodes, wrote that "his main hobby was inventing".
She was an engineer in Telecommunications and focused on creating a secret communications system during World War II. Together with George Antheil, they devised a detection system for remote-controlled torpedoes that would unknowingly lay the foundations for Wi-Fi and GPS. That system enabled the transmission of secret signals and the United States used it for the first time during the crisis with Cuba.
In 1998 the Electronic Frontier Foundation awarded them (Lamarr and Antheil) the Pioneer Award in recognition of their contribution to the development of computer-based communications. He was already dead and she rejected him.
Lamarr died in 2000 and Inventor's Day is celebrated on November 9, commemorating his date of birth.
11. Erna hoover
Erna Hoover became one of the first women in the United States to receive a software patent. In 2007 They granted him patent No. 3,623,007, by a computerized telephone switching system. In 1954 Hoover joined the Bell Telephone Laboratories, Inc., (Bell Labs, today Nokia Bell Labs), one of the main telecommunications research companies, where it played an important role.
The company was working on how to make the leap from telephone switching systems, to go from electromechanical to electronic, since the plants collapsed with the volume of thousands of calls. She managed to prevent telephone networks from collapsing in times of high traffic.
Hoover programmed a solution so that the data of the incoming calls would be used in the central office to be able to give order to the system. He designed a computer to monitor the processes related to input and output, prioritizing them over other data. In this way the central office computer could adjust the rate of call acceptance frequency, thus reducing the overload problem.
His work was a leap in communications, adding computer techniques, transistor circuits and control programs. This caused the electromechanical switches to be replaced. In 1987 she was supervisor of the technical department of Bell Laboratories. There he delved into the use of Artificial Intelligence, developing databases to support large telephone networks.
The first cell phone was an enormous device, weighing 790 grams, measuring 33 centimeters high, and the first cell phone call was made by Martin Cooper, on April 3, 1973, with the Motorola DynaTAC 8000x.
Cooper developed wireless telephony, was the corporate director of research and development for Motorola, a company that also worked for John F. Mitchell, who was the chief engineer for mobile communication products. Before the arrival of the cell phone, Mitchell's team worked on several developments, they obtained a patent for the concept of portable cell phones.
Mitchell, who was Cooper's boss, also played a key role in advancing the development of handheld mobile phone equipment, leading Motorola to develop smaller wireless communication products that could be used anywhere; He also participated in the design of the cell phone.
Finnish engineer Matti Makkonen worked at Nokia and is popularly known as 'the father of SMS' (Short Message Service), mobile text messaging. However, according to recent research, it seems that it was more a myth of press headlines.
He did not patent it, Makkonen considered it as a group invention, not as an individual one. It was in 1984 when he developed the method for sending text messages over mobile networks. This service became popular in the 90s and although currently the protagonists are messaging applications, such as WhatsApp, SMS is still a valuable tool for users who do not have connectivity (mobile data).
In 2008 The Economist chose Makkonen winner of the Innovation Award in the Informatics and Telecommunications category for their contributions in this field. Later, in 2012 the BBC interviewed him and Makkonen himself assured that he did not consider himself the 'father of the SMS' and pointed to Friedhelm Hillebrand and Bernard Ghillebaert like the people who developed the 160-character protocol, and Nokia.
14. Jaap haartsen
He was born in the Netherlands, is an engineer, an expert in wireless systems and worked for Ericsson. He is recognized as the inventor of Bluetooth technology, research that he developed in the 90s. The first device with this specification was the Ericsson R520M.
Bluetooth is a technology for short-range wireless devices, and is essential today in consumer electronic devices, such as connecting audio equipment, such as speakers, to a mobile phone.
Haartsen was included in the CTA Consumer Technology Hall of Fame, an acknowledgment, created in 2000, to the leaders in innovation.
In addition to having been president twice, he was one of the decisive characters for the development of communications in Colombia.
Communication was one of his dreams, that is why he promoted navigation on the Magdalena River. He was also a journalist, ordered the creation of the first maps of Colombia and in November 1865 inaugurated the first telegraphic line between Bogotá and Tres Esquinas (Mosquera). In the first telegraphic communication, Guillermo Lee Stiles sent this message:"The electric telegraph has gone up to the Colombian Andes, and sends its first greeting to the worthy President of this Republic". Not surprisingly, the ICT Ministry is in the Manuel Murillo Toro building.
In 1865, the Compañía del Telégrafo Eléctrico Colombiano was created, managed by Guillermo Lee Stiles. That same year the National School of Magnetism, Electricity and Telegraphy was created.
After the Thousand Days War, the telegraph lines were affected and the service was poor. During the government of José Manuel Marroquín, Francisco J. Fernandez was hired (on February 12, 1903) to rebuild the telegraph in the country. In 1909 he brought the first Hugues type telegraphs, manufactured by Siemens & Halske, which automatically printed telegrams on strips of paper, avoiding manual transcription. He was also the promoter of wireless telegraphy, since he was working with the Italian Guillermo Marconi.
In 1910 he promoted the installation by a German firm of a wireless station on the La Popa hill in Cartagena. Then, in 1912, he carried out the first tests with the wireless telegraph, in which Jorge Caicedo Abadía, Adolfo Concha and Eliseo Ortega also participated. This led to the installation of the Telefunken station and in 1913, the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company started wireless public service in Bogotá.