Sending and receiving messages is not a cunning, new idea. Ever since mankind developed the need to communicate with people out of our immediate vicinity, we have been inventing ways to do so. This blog will highlight a few of the biggest evolutions in the messaging world. It’s interesting to see how far we have come and provides perspective to what kind of growth the future can hold.
Smoke signals were used as early as 200BC along the Great Wall of China. They were used to signal a threat across beacon towers. If any of the people manning the towers saw an incoming threat, they would start a fire that produced a lot of smoke in order to warn other towers and alert the army. Without this messaging system, surprise attacks would have been much easier to execute.
Fast forward to the year 1844. Samuel Morse sent the first telegraph using his Morse Code. The new alphabet, using dots and dashes, was the standard used in telegraph communication. By 1861, the east coast and west coast of the United States were connected via telegraph and Morse Code. This piece of technology, coupled with a signaling alphabet, sped up communication between people across the world.
The telegraph served a tremendous purpose, but people had more to say and less time to say it. Plus, it would be nice to hear the voice of the person sending the message. Thankfully, Alexander Graham Bell developed his patent for an “apparatus for transmitting vocal or other sounds telegraphically” in 1876. From there, communication became much more effective and quicker too!
By 1900, people want to transmit messages to more than just one person. Reginald Fessenden made the first radio transmission that year and went on to make the first broadcast on Christmas eve in 1906. The radio’s popularity exploded from there. In 1939, 28 million households owned at least one radio. That’s quite an audience!
Radio served a great purpose and the later invention of the television furthered the overall idea of reaching the masses. There was still something missing. We could talk to someone on the phone or hear emergency messages in an instant, but we couldn’t send mail as fast as that. In 1971, Ray Tomlinson shot out the first Email message over ARPANET. The service spread like wildfire. It even stuck around for a while. Today we are sending over 205 billion emails on a daily basis. That’s a lot of messages.
Although email is still used today, it wasn’t covering all of our communication needs. We wanted a channel of communication that was quicker and accessible to our “mobile” lifestyles. Thanks to cellphones this would soon be possible. In 1992 we were given the gift of the Short Messaging Service, more commonly referred to as SMS or texting. Nowadays, we are sending over 8.3 trillion texts on any given day.
As our cellphones developed into smartphones, people wanted to send messages that were not associated with their personal phone numbers. In 2009 messaging service Kik came to the market. WhatsApp followed shortly on 2010. Today we have various applications to send and receive messages. We still use WhatsApp and Kik, but also have SnapChat and Facebook Messenger to send and receive information.
These applications have evolved and include the capability to send rich media to each other. We now send pictures, gifs, website links, and video to each other with ease. Additionally, companies are now using chatbots through messaging platforms to better connect with customers. Consumers can now use messaging to text a company directly for customer service needs with ease.