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Impact on prices and trade
The greater speed and reliability of steamships and railways meant that people were no longer waiting years or months for shipments to come - but rather weeks or days.

The rise of telecommunications with the telegraph meant the new faster transport could be harnessed and exploited in markets that moved more efficiently and rapidly. For the first time, detailed information about shipments could be sent faster than the goods themselves.
The rise of market sensitive information
Advance information eased shipments, helped markets grow and reduced price fluctuations. It also meant there was a value in the information, as well as the goods.

Knowing when a ship or train would arrive, and what was on it, was market sensitive information - a message with financial value. This made people understand there was real value in knowledge - and in knowing things first.
The impact on business
Telecommunications changed business. The rise of most multinational corporations date from the later 19th century, when the telegraph made it possible to run regional operations from a central head office. Later, international lines made it possible to run overseas subsidiaries.

But the greatest impact was in the creation of international markets in stocks and commodities. These markets moved faster. Sometimes that was a recipe for disaster.
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...