Opportunity lost to bells and whistles

At the end of the 1800s most serious communication research was geared towards improving the dominant technology of the day – the telegraph. Then came the telephone.

And despite many others working on similar technology we built the mythology of Bell as the lone inventor.

But what got me thinking was the question of whether the early adoption of the telephone as a technology and its growth wasn’t a “mistake”. The telegraph was a sophisticated binary technology that was being rapidly developed. But most, and eventually all, this development was discontinued when the phone came along.

The telephone is was our dominant communications technology but the Internet has shown – voice is not our preferred mode of communication and today the telephone has taken the back seat to another binary based technology (the telegraph was binary).

If the telephone hadn’t dragged us off on an chase for flashy gadgets with bells and whistles – would we have had the internet much earlier?

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