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Thomson, William (Lord Kelvin) Thomson, William (Lord Kelvin) (1824-1907)

William Thomson designed the first submarine cable and receiver for underwater telegraph communications.

Thomson moved to Glasgow from Belfast aged 8, when his father became a maths professor at the University. He had a meteoric academic career, entering the university at 10, producing memorable work by 15, and at 22 becoming a professor of maths. He stayed there for the rest of his life.

Thomson theorised on the age of the earth and radio waves, and invented nautical instruments. He is, however, best known for his work on the measurement of temperature. He devised a new system that ranged upwards from the lowest temperature possible (absolute zero or -273C), and which was later named after him - the 'Kelvin' scale.

In 1866 he was knighted for his work on submarine cables and the invention of the submarine receiver, and in 1892 he was given a peerage for his contribution to science, becoming Baron Kelvin of Largs.

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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.

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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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