How has Communication evolved?:

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

People have sought to find ways of simplifying the process of communication and ways to make it faster, more secure, and more reliable. Since the effectiveness, and the development of society directly depended on it.

Just to mention, EARLY communication was done by pigeons, drums, or smoke signals, etc. Imagine having to send messages by one of these!!

In the 1600s, few colonists had the need to send packages or letters to each other, and mail from England was sporadic and, in reality, could take months to reach the intended destination. But as society grew, the need for written communication to reach out to other settlers became necessary.

The Early Postal Service

On the 26th of July 1775, the Second Continental Congress established the Federal Post Office with Benjamin Franklin as the first Post Master. OH! How exciting that must have been for the early Colonists. Imagine, an organized mail delivery system for the colonies of early America! No more leaving mail at Inns and Taverns because there were no post offices!

Franklin, a former postmaster for the city of Philadelphia, was one of two joint Postmaster Generals for the colonies. Franklin was instrumental in setting up new mail routes and increasing delivery times from Philadelphia to New York by having the mail delivery wagon to travel instead of once per week to daily utilizing a relay system. Franklin created the chart rate for determining charges for delivery determined by distance and weight.

In 1774 the British fired Franklin from his position as postmaster general because of his revolutionary connections, but he was then appointed under the Continental Congress a year later. Franklin served in this position until he was sent to France in 1776 as a diplomat. At that time, there were approximately 75 post offices in the country.

The Pony Express

Later in 1860 – with the growth in population and the Gold Rush Urging people to “Go West,” a necessary service came to being. The “Pony Express.” The Pony Express was a system of mail delivery originating in St Joseph, MO to Sacramento, CA, and on from there by steamer to San Francisco, CA. A steady relay on horseback through harsh weather conditions to dangers of attack by Indians and robbery they road. Lone horse riders would make their way at breakneck speed, and relay at nearly 200 stations along the multi-territorial route. They would switch horses every 10-15 miles, handing their cargo off then every 75-100 Miles.

Poster from the Pony Express, advertising fast mail delivery to San Francisco. (Credit: Public Domain)

Despite the Wild West legend and much-promoted hype, the enterprise never turned a profit in its year and a half of existence. Yep, the life of the Pony Express ended with the war between the government and the Paiute Indians in the Pyramid Lake War. The Pony Express folded in 1861 after losing nearly $200,000. (a LOT of money back then)

Telegraph

The electric Telegraph was developed by Samuel Morse and others in the 1830s and ’40s. This electric Telegraph revolutionized communication over long distances. It works by transmitting dot and dash code pulses (also invented by Samuel Morse) over wires from station to station and decoded by an operator at the destination station.

Although Television, Fax machines, and the Worldwide Web (internet) replaced the use of the Telegraph, it DID make way for those inventions that followed.

*Did you know? SOS is the internationally recognized signal for “help” it stands for nothing and is only adopted because it is easy to transmit. In Morse Code, S is three dots, while O is three dashes.

Postal Service Growth

Even though the abandonment of this delivery system took place, the mail had to go on. The Postal Service continued to grow and expand services.

Information according to https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/u-s-postal-system-established:

“Today, the United States has over 40,000 post offices, and the postal service delivers 212 billion pieces of mail each year to over 144 million homes and businesses in the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam, the American Virgin Islands, and American Samoa. The postal service is the nation’s largest civilian employer, with over 700,000 career workers, who handle more than 44 percent of the world’s cards and letters. The postal service is a not-for-profit, self-supporting agency that covers its expenses through postage (stamp use in the United States started in 1847) and related products. The postal service gets the mail delivered, rain or shine, using everything from planes to mules. However, it’s not cheap: The U.S. Postal Service says that when fuel costs go up by just one penny, its costs rise by $8 million

Special delivery - De Rosier's View

Electronic Mail

Today, with the widespread distribution of the internet, Email, has become the “go-to” for communication. Electronic mail (email) has all but replaced the postman on his rounds.

There are several factors that make email desirable over “snail mail”:

  • Speed: Absolutely the BEST advantage to email over snail mail is the speed of delivery. Whereas it could take a week to 10 days for a snail mail letter to reach its designation, email is almost instantaneous.
  • Anytime Delivery: Email can be delivered anytime and picked up at the convenience of the recipient.
  • Cost: Normally, the cost of sending a letter via snail mail is under $1.00, and the cost of sending an email anywhere in the world is free. (If you figure your computer is going to be on and running anyway)
  • Multiple receivers: If you need to send a message to numerous people, it will cost you for every letter you send by snail mail, however, sending a message to multiple people VIA email takes seconds. (Use the BCC – Blind Carbon Copy) so that you don’t expose everyone’s email address.
  • Adding Attachments is easy: simply click on the paper clip icon on the email toolbar then choose which attachment you want to send; pictures, Word Docs, PDFs, etc.
  • Receiving Email: there is no comparison to which is easier to receive when you consider you must physically be at a residence to receive snail mail, and you can be anywhere in the world and receive an email on your cell phone.

Mail service has made strides over the years, and it is exciting to think about how technology will advance communication in the future!

About the author

Gail holds one of the most challenging role in the Compumatrix Leadership: Membership. She ensures that that members and potential members enjoy the benefits of being part of the Compumatrix community.

Comments

  1. Communication HAS come a long way from smoke signals and birds delivering messages. It is hard to believe that our children may never know the joys of licking stamps. (smile) I enjoyed reading about some of the histories of communication even though it is in the USA where this Pony Express took place. I can imagine how a ride on that circuit would be. I’m sure it would be dusty, no bottled water for a drink, no air-conditioned ride (unless you counted the air that is blowing around you as you ride.) I don’t think we fully appreciate how things have evolved, oft times severe hardships.

  2. This blog has taken me on a trip through memory lane. Looking back just in the last 73 years I can remember the joy of getting a letter in the mail with my name on it. The cost of a stamp back then was 3 cents! Today a first-class stamp is 55 cents. The evolution of communication has escalated in the last 29 years. On August 6, 1991, the World Wide Web was publically available to anyone. This drastically changed communication forever. No matter what will be discovered in the future, as far as communication is concerned, I don’t think it will ever replace that wonderful feeling of receiving a personal handwritten letter by a mail carrier.

  3. What joy is to receive a message from a dear one, especially if that person is far away. And even if it took days, weeks, months, or even years to hear about.
    This path thru memory lane as Erline expresses, also took me to my childhood days, writing letters to Santa up to Today’s live stream video communication

    1. I still enjoy seeing that ‘Communication’ in the mail that’s not a bill or junk mail! I love getting cards and letters, but it sure is far and few between these days. I still send birthday cards to my friends and relatives as well as wish them well on Facebook and sometimes an email. I used to get many personal emails, and was busy writing everyone back, I used to get phone calls, now both of those have almost ended, all everyone wants to do is text. Communication is getting less and less personal, everyone is busier and busier with the Internet that was suppose to save us time, however, now we only have time to text!

  4. quite the evolution if you ask me ? ok so you are not lol — but agree we in America the Republic for which I stand — has evolved in not just in mail type communication but also so much in just the form person to person type communication — before this covid-19 virus even then people were more and more not actually talking or communicating peep to peep — and being a people person all my life it has been a little sad — but hey I will adapt also — great read thru memory lane also Ms. Gail —

  5. Interesting story about developments in delivery services. What once was considered to be a huge jump forward is now old-fashioned and looked at in nostalgia. The same thing will happen with what we have today although we don’t know how it will develop further.Maye it will be only digital.

  6. I applied to the Post Office for a summer job just before college. I must have applied at the wrong place. I had an assignment offered that would have started the same month as my first month of college.

    Many years ago, while reading one of my horse magazines, I read an article about the Pony Express. Erline, you think 55 cents is expensive! The article I read mentioned prices of $1 dollar (back then)! The letter had to be written on onion skin paper for minimum weight. The riders were just boys in their teens.

    I remember the 7 cent Airmail stamps. Red ink and a picture of a Boeing 707 jet on it. This was early 1960’s. My first jet flight was on one of those from Germany to New York in July of 1962. (We watched them load and unload the sacks of mail too!)

  7. Very informative blog Gail. I remember (long time ago) that I was waiting every Wednesday for the postman to deliver a letter form my girlfriend in those days. And it was there and always on that day. Not a day late. Till today I still write letters from time to time with my fountain pen, bring them to the post office where I buy a stamp. Maybe it is old fashioned but it is very personal.

  8. As with everything in life, there are pros and cons. Of course email is faster but cannot beat a nice letter for example, when somebody did take time to choose a special letter paper, maybe even a scented one, then carefully expressed their thoughts and feelings..because unlike email it could be stored forever.

  9. oh Eva those were the days — i long time ago dated a young lady who scented everything she did with Strawberry and oh my — for a teeny bopper oh Yes — lol and then 20 years later met my ex who scented in vanilla — and I guess my point is as we look back over time and start to put things in perspective and see the Changes in Communication or Evolutions it is fascinating to put history of last 50yrs in perspective — great fun being had —

  10. Yes that’s right and surely great memories but probably the younger generations will have completly different ones. Like they do not recognize the old fashioned telephones they will most likely wonder what’s a letter..you mean a piece if paper? And as the communication is evolving so is the postal service, here in Sweden we don’t even have any traditional Post office any more.

  11. I’ve said many a time that ” The Faster Technologies Advance, The Faster they Advance” .
    Communication is just one aspect of it……Seen young kids put around a rotary dial phone and they were challenged with trying to make a call. They could not figure it out…..but give them a smart phone and they sit right next to each other and text. BUT lack verbal communicating skils.

  12. Before reading this blog post, I knew that all these forms of communication existed, but I did not know in depth how each of these systems worked and the impact they had on the world. The world is constantly coming up with new technologies in order to improve our quality of life. Right now, our fastest way of communication is through an email, telephone call, or text message, but pretty soon I am certain an even faster method of communication will emerge. I think that is what makes life so interesting and exciting – there is always something new and/or better to be developed.

  13. How many times have you left home just to make a short trip to the grocery store, and about the time you have a mile behind you, you realize you forgot your cell phone. You immediately do a u-turn and return home to gather you only means of connection with the world, only to see that nobody has called or texted or tweeted or anything else that made feel like you had to get back to your phone or you would miss “something” that might be very important. But, you didn’t. Do you know that I actually made the 2-mile trip to Home Depot last week, purchased what I came for, then returned home without once realizing that I had left my phone on the kitchen counter? Holy smokes, man!!! That was close ! After all, ANYTHING could have happened….but it didn’t. Geeez how communication has changed. Or has it ?

    1. Bill, I have also left my phone home a few times in the past and had that same sinking feeling but I have developed a mental trick to deal with that situation. I call my trick “my time machine”. So now whenever I accidentally leave my phone at home, I decide that the trip that I am on is in my time machine and that I am now in 1994 or a prior year. Then I just relax and enjoy the radio. It is a state of mind, where I am controlling time, which is fun and actually relaxing. I am simply reminding myself that I have made thousands of trips in my car without a cell phone in all of those years and all was well. If I actually needed to call someone I could always stop and use a pay phone.

      Now, if I actually need to make emergency call, while I’m in my time machine, I know that I can still stop and go into a convenience store, gas station, retail store, or restaurant and borrow a cell phone from just about anyone. (Of course now with the Covid-19 situation I would ask them to make the call for me, and have them put it on speaker mode so I can have my short conversation without touching the phone.) And so the evolution of communication continues…

  14. The history and the timeline of communications in this article are fascinating. I really like looking back on how it was and then realizing how far we have come with our communication tools. The irony is that with all of our amazing technology and ways to connect instantly and globally, we still have major communication challenges between humans.

    It is particularly perplexing to me that so much weight it given to what is said on social media, without any recognition of the fact that many comments come from teenagers and even from pre-teens.

    1. Isn’t that the truth, Kevin!! It seems that some go for the shock factor when they make some of the statements and share some of the Memes they do on Social Media. I am very disillusioned and disappointed with Social Media any more because of all the garbage. If it weren’t for my family being on there and getting to chat with them there, I would never open a social media program. again. It has lost its luster for me, for sure.

  15. Just because something is said, and it goes viral, doesn’t mean that the source is “credible” and yet many controversial comments get picked up by the media and turned into “a thing” that millions end up discussing. They really need to consider the source, but of course they typically don’t do that. LOL So… IMHO the evolution of the tools that we use is very impressive but the way they so often get used leaves quite a bit to be desired.

  16. Gone are those days, when we would sit down and write a letter to our friend, relative or beloved one. Using a Parker pen or even a ballpoint pen, to manually write something nice and send it off. More joy would be when we would receive a letter at home. Same for birthday cards, or even hand-written post-cards.
    Nowadays, communication is very impersonal and has lost its essence.
    When will the postman ring the bell again, to deliver a hand-written letter to us, sent by a well.wisher?

    1. It is sad but true Raju, that those days are basically gone. The impersonal nature of our ‘quick/quick-fast/fast’ communication methods are the result of the missing ingredient of the human touch factor. Fortunately though there are still exceptions and we ALL actually have the power to be exceptional by simply hand writing a letter and mailing it.

      I recently received a card from a friend in my physical mailbox and it had a beautifully written personalized note that filled both sides of the card… but it was not actually hand written with a pen. However, it did have a very warm font and had been printed, but I was still very happy to receive it in the mail and I really appreciated them taking the time to write an actual personal letter. That was a great exception, nevertheless!

      Ironically, I have yet to be exceptional and simply hand written and mailed a reply. Yes, I have the power to do so, but I still can’t find the reply button to click on the card… FDLOL

  17. I would be lost without my mobile phone, Paula tells me it is glued to my ear….lol Seriously though a business person these days would not be able to attend to the constant growing needs of their business in today’s society without a mobile phones and modern technology. Since Covid-19 this has become even more important as many businesses have had to turn to home based staff to keep their client bases needs covered. It has been frustrating but also interesting waiting on many big businesses as the call is diverted to home-based staff member. I was talking to one young lass who was also trying to settle her young one while sorting out my problem. One has to wonder if this will become the norm in the future.

  18. You know what I find to be extremely strange, in the evolution of communications in the USA? The healthcare industry, including hospitals, nursing homes, and private practice doctor’s, ALL still send FAX Documents! For the younger people reading this, a FAX (which is short for Facsimile) is a very crude scan of a document that gets transmitted over a hard wired telephone line and is then printed out from a Fax printer on paper. For more info go to https://duckduckgo.com/?q=what+is+a+fax&t=brave&ia=web

    Believe me when I say that I DO understand their reluctance to giving up a physical document, due to security concerns, but the technology does exist that resolves those security issues. I guess that solving the issue with technology still won’t resolve their concerns. Or maybe they are all secretly addicted to the FAX toner fumes…LOL

    Somewhere between PDFs, secure email systems, and Blockchain technology there must be an answer for the USA healthcare system. But right now they have their hands full with more pressing issues, so I’m not holding my breath or faulting them either. I’m just saying that it is just extremely strange to me that the communications evolution has not been embraced by them yet.

  19. Communication in regards to the Postal Service has evolved rapidly in the last 20 years. 50 years ago we could’ve never imagined the Internet could possibly take over paying bills and writing letters. It was just not in our comprehension.
    This blog almost feels like a parallel to me with fiat and cryptocurrency‘s. 50 years ago we could’ve not comprehended that fiat would not be exclusively used and that a digital currency would exist.

  20. You have done an excellent job in presenting the historical development of communication for mankind. We have indeed come a long way. As fast has it has developed to this point, just think, it will develop even faster for our future. Essentially our only limitation is our imagination and effort. It is mind boggling to consider where we will be in 5 years or 10 or even 100!

  21. I remember the time when we had to walk to post offices or mailboxes when we wanted to send letters. There was a market place near our home that had a mailbox and we had to do a 15-minute walk to that mailbox if we wanted to send letters. It was not far from our home but, hey, it was a 15-minute walk! It is nice to see how things changed since then. Today, with a few steps to your living room you can sit in front of a computer and instantly send an email. No more walking to the old mailboxes. Communication technology is becoming even faster along time. The same can be said to technology involving the finances. Today VISA and Mastercard can process thousands and thousands of transactions per minute, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. But it will also be overtaken by the new technology being developed in the crypto world. Faster transactions using cryptocurrencies will easily overtake those performed by credit card giants. And we are just watching the beginning of all this technology to come that will change the structure of society as we know it today.

  22. I seem to have been through the majority of the old ways of receiving and sending mail according to this post. Very nostalgic in some respects. I loved waiting for the postman to fill my red postbox at the gate and I used to run down the garden path every day at 4 pm after the postman had been to see what treasures he had left behind. I don’t even have a postbox anymore, and nobody delivers mail to our doors unless its a courier. Quite sad really. But thinking ahead, I think email will be here for a long time. The next step I think would be mental telepathy.

  23. I clearly remember back in 1991 when I was hired as Sales Manager for a wireless phone company and got my first taste of electronic mail (email). It freaked me out (showing my age here). It appeared that it was going to be so difficult, yet it was so easy even I could do it and was doing a lot of it by days end. What a treat ! Now I just had to learn to type again. It is amazing how much time it saves us due to all of the advancements in communication over the years. In many instances, it literally saves you days of waiting for a response to information you sent by US Mail. With wireless phone service and email coming out around the same general time frame, it seemed like we made a major leap forward in communication. We did !

  24. Sometimes I lay in bed at night and think about the new inventions the world will have twenty years from now. Perhaps 3D holographs will be the next form of communication because everyone is locked up inside. At least that way, people can give each other virtual hugs without having to worry about COVID-19.

    1. Wouldn’t that be a sad thing, though, Mary? If we lost the ability, much less the desire, for human touch and comfort? I love advances in technology and communication and never fail to be impressed by them. However, I pray we will always be able to hug and never lose that ability. I have to wonder what kind of life that would be. Would we be more like robots? Would we lose the spoken word and telecommunicate instead? Sure makes me wonder where advanced communication will take us.

  25. I just got done reading a new posting and this blog posting fits so much into that blog and how communication is so different today then say just 20 years ago and just the same in the sales and marketing field are so much different in the cyber world and the electronic world has replaced so much people to people and I can only imagine how another 20 years of development and with the virus of today will impact the fields of communication and business — just great thought provoking — thank you — rj

    1. This is a great blog post. It shows the development of communication and the need for the speed of it. I remember when the telephone on a wire which had running through thru the house.The invention of the cordless sure stopped many trips and falls. Now we have the internet and any letter or photo can be sent and received instantly.

  26. When I read about the new routes of communications I made a connection with those and cryptocurrencies. For example, long times ago money could have been anything from gold to a chicken. As the world has evolved there are now new routes of receiving money and new objects that are considered money. No one would ever think we would have iPhones to call whoever we want, and no one would have ever been able to wrap their head around a Bitcoin.

  27. When I was a child, we didn’t have cell phones to communicate. Now, little six year old children have cell phones to text, facetime, and call their friends whenever they want – it is incredible to me. The advancements in communication excite me! I cannot wait to see what communication devices the world will have when I am eighty years old!

  28. Well I miss the old days…Everything is about saving time these days…Email instead of regular post, news on the internet instead of a newspaper, touch phone instead of a regular phone..and so on..
    Where does it end?
    When I get to my office and notice the number of emails that I have to go through during the day…Makes me stressful..
    Yes communication has improved for sure, but not all is for the better..:/

  29. it definitely has changed and literally the less face time twix peeps is still a sad part of technology but I also understand to extent how the older gens may have felt years ago as their era was being changed by technology of their day — I mean 100 years or so there was no TV and just barely radio communication — just look how far — wow

  30. Thank you Gail for the brief history of how communication evolved in America. I am surprised that I can still remember our residence telephone number:54OJ. It has been more than half a century ago! When I needed to call someone on the phone I would give the number to the telephone operator who connects me to the other line. This was followed by the rotary phone.

    And the stamps. I still have a boxful of them plus the stamp albums. They all belong to my sister who was an avid stamp collector and had penpals from all over. When my sister went to the USA in the 60s to work as a nurse, she met with her penpal.

  31. A very nice and detailed history of Communication in the USA, a nostalgic journey with tons of information Smoke signal Pigeons, etc to present-day email. The pony express was a remarkable service that lasted less than 2 years. Postage stamps have been issued to commemorate various types of communication and some of the issues are sought after by the collectors and are expensive depending on the face value and rarity. Telegraph, Airmail, Fax all have made their rounds only now to be sidelined by the internet. — In any case, they all have their rounds only now to be sidelined by the internet. –email. For sure each mode of communication held an important position and had a role in history.

  32. oh i love coming back to read this great blog — and so much history and detail in the age of communicating and how it is inevitable that Change will happen not just in technology but in every aspect of life — you have to be cognizant of this fact and the more prepared you are and more open perse’ the more success will find you — jmho —

  33. I thoroughly enjoyed the trip back in time. Interesting how the movement of communications has changed over the centuries. While transport and transmission has taken on different forms, the underlying need to communicate will continue to necessitate the innovations that are clearly seen in the technological advances of our times. It makes you wonder, what’s next, or is there any possible way to improve on the speedy movement of information than the means we have today via the internet. I can’t imagine it, but I am sure at this very moment, someone is imagining a new and better way to send the mail!!

  34. The pony express couriers of old, worked harder than most and had integrity, ethics and pride in getting mail and correspondence to the intended destination. Communicating via pigeons, drums, smoke signals, and telegraph messages had to be short and concise. Our postal service was a blessing in its day, getting the mail out promptly. Not so much today. Radio and television is still a marvel today with all the new technology. The new ways of communicating through the email and text are mind-boggling, at the speed, the apps, and attachments that can be applied. What will the future bring?

  35. Great blog about the old history of communication, enjoyed reading it. Old technologies have been replaced by new technologies.But I’m still happy when my relatives who live in other countries send me birthday cards.Thank you for wonderful info.

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