Data Communication Trivia

A Data Communication Historical Series
By Bob Pollard


    The purpose of this data communications historical overview is to provide a basic and brief history of the development and technical advances that occurred over the last 150 years. The telephone system will only be addressed where the telephone facilities are utilized for data (message) communication.


   No attempt will be made to cover all areas of data or voice communications in detail; most subject matter in the various linked pages will be discussed only to provide historical background and to provide some basic technical descriptions for equipment design and operational clarification.


   Since I worked for the Western Union Telegraph Company (W U) from 1953 through 1969 many of the historical references and pictures are from Western Union’s recorded history. Also, a good deal of the communications technical references and message switching system design criteria reflect the influence of W U’s leadership in the design and development of data communication and message switching systems during the early years. Other data communications, message switching design criteria and information was obtained while working for the Control Data Corporation, early 70’s, and during my activities as a private consultant where I conducted data communication design seminars. Additional information was collected through recent research activity. Many of the Figures and pictures are from my records or were produced specifically for this historical overview. Other Figures and pictures were obtained from Western union records or from other public domain sources.


   A little point of view! It appears with all this advanced technology that gave us the Internet so everyone could talk to everyone else and allow access to all kinds of information via the many Web sites we seem to be back where we started in one area. It seems that every computer that connects to the Internet is open to searching eyes and susceptible to eavesdropping, receiving unwanted information or unknowingly providing private information. We are back to the Morse code days when it comes to maintaining privacy. I guess that’s what 150 years of progress has given us. Although, it is obvious, this availability of private matters is accomplished a lot quicker and in a much more efficient manner.

Bob Pollard

Data Communication Development History


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