Category Archives: Telecom Ramblings

Did the Radio Telegraph lead to a Miscarriage of Justice?

In an earlier blog, we learned how Cooke and Wheatstone’s telegraph played a central role in the capture of the murderer John Tawell as he travelled by train from Slough to London. In an analogous case, the murderer Dr Hawley … Continue reading

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The Strange Story of Phone Phreaking

During the 1960’s, the use of analogue signalling tones between telephone exchanges gave rise to a new phenomenon called “Phone Phreaking”. The word “phreak” is apparently a combination of “phone”, “free” and “freak”, so it’s rather a good name. Phone … Continue reading

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Treating a Paranoid Computer

The ARPANET was an early computer network that played a critical role in the development of the Internet. In 1972, Robert Kahn organized the first public demonstration of the ARPANET’s capabilities at the International Conference on Computer Communications in Washington, … Continue reading

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If At First You Don’t Succeed . . .

The successful laying of a trans-Atlantic cable was one of the most extraordinary feats of engineering in the history of telecoms. The hero of our story is Cyrus Field, an American businessman who had made his fortune in the New … Continue reading

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Are Radio Waves Bad for Your Health?

The health risks associated with radioactivity have been recognized for many years. Alpha, beta and gamma emissions from radioactive sources can ionize atoms or molecules that they encounter by detaching electrons from them. People exposed to high levels of ionizing … Continue reading

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Who REALLY Invented the Telephone?

As any quiz enthusiast will tell you, Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone. He was awarded a patent for the telephone in 1876, and he and his fledgling telephone company successfully defended that patent against more than 600 legal challenges … Continue reading

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This Is All Getting A Bit Scary

Since the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, there has been considerable speculation about the possibility of cyber terrorism. In March 2000, a disgruntled Australian employee used the internet to release one million litres of raw … Continue reading

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Let’s Hear It for the Bad Boys of Physics!

Surprising as it may seem, there are still some major barriers that are holding back the march of telecommunications. One of these barriers is Einstein’s universal speed limit – the speed of light – which applies to electrical currents in … Continue reading

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A New Year Murder

In 1839, William Fothergill Cooke and Charles Wheatstone opened the world’s first public telegraph service on a 13-mile stretch of rail track between London Paddington and West Drayton. The telegraph received some sensational publicity a few years later when it … Continue reading

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The First Wireless Telephone

On 3rd June 1880, Alexander Graham Bell transmitted the first wireless telephone message using his newly-invented “Photophone”. The Photophone contained a flexible mirror that vibrated in response to the speaker’s voice. When sunlight was projected on to the mirror, the … Continue reading

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