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Using the telegraph
Many developments in Victorian times transformed people's lives directly - train travel, better sanitation and cheaper food.

By comparison, the telegraph had no direct bearing on the average Victorian's life - it was a tool that was unseen and unused by all but the very few for whom it formed part of their work.

For personal communication, most people used the penny post and their information came from newspapers.

Nonetheless the telegraph had a profound indirect effect. It speeded up commerce, encouraged international trade, improved government and diplomatic relations - and thus transformed whole societies.
Fax is short for Facsimile - the ability to send an image (a replica of a piece of paper) - down a line. It seems like a sophisticated telecommunications technology and people think of it as quite recent - an invention of the 1970s or 1980s.

In fact, it's one of the oldest - an offshoot of the chemical telegraph invented by Alexander Bain in 1843. The reason fax took such a long time to develop is that the machinery to use the technology wasn't really there at first. So the experience of actually sending or receiving a fax has changed most radically of all.
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.

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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...