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'Mr Watson, come here, I want you.'

pdf download of worksheetWorksheet 1

The race: An exciting inventing race was on across Europe and America in the 1870s. Who could invent the first working telephone? Several inventors thought it was possible to send the human voice along a wire using electricity - but how?

Morse code

pdf download of worksheetWorksheet 2

The telegraph: Before the telephone was invented, the quickest way of sending messages over long distances was by telegraph ('graph' meaning to write, and 'tele' meaning from far away).

What was it like in your day, Grandma?

pdf download of worksheetWorksheet 3

Looking back: In the early 19th century (1800s), many people were trying to find better ways to communicate with each other. At that time:

  • letters and other written messages were transported by horse-drawn carriages or riders
  • new railways were helping to speed up deliveries
  • there was no radio or TV

pdf download of teacher's notesCommunications Project Primary: Teacher's notes: How communications have changed our lives

Morse code and semaphore:

Morse code and semaphore:Morse code and semaphore
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...