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Where to now

Handheld computer

The trend to digitalisation : all digital now - the revolution is complete

Everything is becoming digital - and therefore homogeneous. We live in a multimedia world where voice, music, pictures, moving images and data interactive media are all becoming part of the mix.

Convergence is happening in technologies too - between computers and TV, handheld devices and mobiles.

Mobile phones, for instance, have organiser, calendar and contact functions - just like handheld organisers. Electronic organisers (PDAs) can be made to function as telephones. Where does one end and the other begin? What types of network connection are best for them? 

Electrophone publicity

Convergence of technologies : towards total services

Content and communications streams are converging. Businesses that provide applications and channels are increasingly merging with content providers to make total services available for users.

This means that the same product or piece of data is likely to be found on different channels in slightly different forms. At its most basic, this already happens with films shown on television in a TV format, but the idea is even older than that. In fact it goes back to the Electrophone during the early 20th century, which broadcast live events over the telephone. Today it's happening with music that's increasingly available via the Internet as well as on disc or over the radio.

The next challenge is to make it all interactive and intelligent - so that the network increasingly understands what kind of content you want and offers it to you without waiting for you to ask.

Early Marconi television set, 1930s

A fragmenting world : where did everyone go?

Under the influence of competing media and channels, the size of each market sector is shrinking. The television audience provides the clearest example of this.

In the old days, everybody in Britain used to watch one of two channels - BBC or ITV. Each channel had audiences numbered in many millions. Now the TV audience at any one time could be anywhere - on one of the five analogue, terrestrial channels, on one of the scores of digital satellite or cable channels, or watching video or DVD.



Black hole

Future of the Internet : a dream or a nightmare?

The days of the Internet as a 'free' resource may be numbered. The sums that have been invested in new technologies and the multimedia content that goes with them will have to be recouped somehow. So will the huge sums paid out by mobile operators who aim to deliver Internet-based content right into people's hands.

There are other questions, too - such as how to ease congestion affecting the Net, how to manage the threat from computer viruses, how to resolve the dilemma between personal privacy and global security, how to reshape the Internet to accommodate the expected growth in network connections.

fun and games

Can you beat our games? Explode equipment to see what's inside, hear the changing sounds of telecommunications, see how telecommunications designs have changed over time or send an e-postacard.

what's on

The UK's first permanent gallery dedicated to the history of information and communication technologies opens in the new Information Age gallery at London’s Science Museum.

audio history

Take a trip down memory lane with extracts of the interviews which have been recorded as part of the Connected Earth oral history programme.

featured story

100 years of automatic switching!
In 1912 the GPO installed Britain's first automatic telephone exchange in Epsom.

Discover the early days of the telephone...