The telegraph was the first form of telecommunication. 'Telegraph' means 'writing from far away' or 'distant writing' and the word originally applied to semaphore systems. But the search for ways of sending signals over long distances had been around for thousands of years.
They used many different ways of signalling: smoke, fiery beacon, drums, lights, mirrors, flags and semaphores. But the basic idea was always the same - transmit a message faster than a man could run or a horseman could ride.
The limitations were always the same, too. Signals had to be relayed in stages defined by how far a human could see or hear. And the signals had to be simple, or in a code.
That something was electricity - discovered in the mid 18th century. So the idea of an electric telegraph goes back further than you might think.
It had needed three ingredients to make it reality: the science of electromagnetism, the ability to generate or store electricity and the Industrial Revolution to be able to produce the mechanical devices and wires needed.
But there was one more key - the creation of codes to turn electrical pulses into a kind of language. During the first decades of the 19th century, all the elements finally fell into place.
That year, however, the race was won by two Englishmen - William Cooke and Charles Wheatstone. They were first to patent a working system.
At the same time, though, an American inventor, Samuel Morse, was perfecting his version of the telegraph - and it was Morse's system that came to dominate the future.
New types of telegraph had to be invented - and new ways to cram more information down those thin wires. This constant search produced new types of telegraph and took the inventors into new and unexplored areas that would eventually lead to entirely new kinds of telecommunication.
As the railways speeded up the pace of life so did the telegraph - with the infant telegraph companies having to adapt their services to the new realities of a fast changing world.
After the war, the world of communications belonged increasingly to the telephone and the radio. Nevertheless, the telegraph was far from finished - its life extended by newer and more sophisticated devices.
The telephone was based on the telegraph and used electrical signals carried along copper wires. Instead of an on-off signal, it carried a replica of the sound waves created by a human voice. For the first time, people could use this 'analogue waveform' to communicate over distance.
But they soon realised it could also include the human voice - a speaking telegraph. And if you could talk down a wire, wouldn't that be an entirely new and better way of communicating?
The individual parts of the telephone were discovered and developed by different people at different times.
Someone needed to take all those connections and draw them together into one working instrument. In the end that someone was Alexander Graham Bell - but he only just won the race.
Without selling telephones, you have no users. But without a group of users, other people have no reason to buy a telephone. Breaking through this barrier involved some hard selling - and some tough business battles.
But it didn't take long for those networks to grow from tens of people to hundreds, then thousands.
At the same time, the local networks began to be connected together as trunk lines were set up - long distance wires connecting the towns and cities all over Britain.
Those trends are digitalisation, convergence, fragmenting audiences and the growth of the internet.
The introduction of mobile phones took over half a century. The introduction of radio telephony in the 1920s made it theoretically possible for people to talk on the move. However, effective deployment had to wait for the development of computers to allow networks to be created and miniaturisation to make the devices small enough to be really mobile.
When true mobile telephony finally arrived in the early 1980s it was a revolution - for the first time telecommunications really was person to person rather than just place to place.
To start with there were radiotelephones for ships, aircraft and military vehicles. Then radiophones for cars and finally personal mobiles.
The theories for cellular mobile telephony were shaped by the 1940s - but getting there would take a further 40 years.
But it was to prove difficult to come up with something that would work - and something that people would want to use.
With cellular networks, design and equipment not only dictates whom we can call - but whether we can call at all. 'No service'are not good news for any mobile user.
The arrival of the truly individual telephone with its own special number was a revolution - and one that changed people's attitudes to keeping in touch. But for the revolution to take hold, some sweeping changes and innovations were required.
A wireless world
Wireless did what its name suggested - it did away with the wire connecting sender to receiver. This meant that telegraphy, then telephony, could be extended across oceans and around the world. Wireless signals could be picked up by any number of receivers, but range proved a problem.
The technological development that made this possible involved wireless going to sea and taking to the air. The development of radio telephony allowed real conversations over the airwaves - and extended the reach of the telephone.
In Britain the technology of broadcasting evolved rapidly so that in just ten years it was accessible to millions of people all over the country.
The video age
Television means being able to view moving images at distance and video allows us to record and replay picture and sound. Both are part of daily life.
TV was invented over 70 years ago but its progress from the first black and white images to colour took little more than 25 years.
The invention of television meant finding ways to capture movement as a series of still images and then separating them into strips (scanning) to allow them to be transmitted as electrical signals - down wires or over the airwaves.
Even before World War Two intervened to close television broadcasting operations in most countries for the duration, television showed every sign of catching on in a big way.
Maybe the real surprise is how much investment was made in television - and how quickly.
Satellite and microwave
The story of microwave and satellite transmission is about harnessing the power of high intensity radio waves and focussing them between fixed points on Earth - or in Space. We may think that these are 'Space Age' technologies but their story starts well over 70 years ago.
The difference is now the two points can be thousands of miles apart - and not even on the surface of the Earth.
Microwave is one of the most effective technologies in the telecommunications field - a system that allows huge amounts of data or voice signal to be beamed from point A to point B.
Why did we need microwave links? Once again it was the need to send more messages ('bandwidth') that pushed technological progress. Wartime experience with radar showed how dish antennas could be used to focus beams of energy that could carry large amounts of information.
The second was the realisation that those orbiting objects - called satellites - could be used as reflectors to bounce signals around the Earth...
And if that orbit is just the right distance out in space the satellite will keep pace with the rotation of the Earth - remaining on station out there in the skies.
Theory was one thing - but achieving the vision was not so simple.
And with the primitive computers of the time that stretched the technology of the 1950s and 1960s to the very limits.
But their success paved the way for the 'Global Village' and introduced a new era in television.