September 15, 2009

Connecting Two Continents.

Have you ever traveled back in time, in your thoughts to revisit the reality of the world, as it was, just a few decades ago?

The technology of today was once the subject of science fiction. When I was a child, there were no fax-machines, no VCRs, no DVD players (no DVDs of course!), not CDs either. Not to talk about the existence of the Internet (at least not in the form and shape it is today), no personal computers and no portable phones.

Even the use of communication satellites, which have been in space for about 50 years, for the transmissions of personal communication, such as satellite phones, later mobile phones and of course the GPS systems, has been only available since the 80's and 90's.

Have you ever considered how exactly did the telegraph (and later telephone) signal travel across the Atlantic Ocean, before the invention of fiber-optics and the existence of satellites?

Well, a transatlantic communication was possible, about hundred years ago, due to an actual physical cable, called the Transatlantic Telegraph Cable, which was laid all across the bottom of the Atlantic.

I find this very impressive and extremely fascinating.

The first cable crossed from the Telegraph Field, Foilhommerum Bay, Valentia Island, in western Ireland to Heart's Content in eastern Newfoundland. The transatlantic cable bridged North America and Europe, and expedited communication between the two. Whereas it would normally take at least ten days to deliver a message by ship, after it was laid, it took a matter of minutes.

As described by wikipedia:
"Five attempts to lay it were made over a nine-year period—in 1857, two in 1858, in 1865, and in 1866—before lasting connections were finally achieved by the SS Great Eastern captained by Sir James Anderson with the 1866 cable and the repaired 1865 cable. Additional cables were laid between Foilhommerum and Heart's Content in 1873, 1874, 1880 and 1894. By the end of the 19th century, British-, French-, German- and American-owned cables linked Europe and North America in a sophisticated web of telegraphic communications."

Of course, in order for the transmissions to function properly, each end had to construct cable relay stations, which housed the most technologically advanced equipment for its time. There were several so called Cable Houses, and some still do stand today. The old cable station at Waterville in Ireland is well maintained and serves today as a Bed & Breakfast, while I really do not know if the original Cable House in Newfoundland is still in existence today. There were several buildings that served as relays, and there seems to be remains of one such Cable House in Hazel Hill, Guysborough County, Nova Scotia. However, it is falling apart. There are plans on restoration and I found many appeals throughout the Internet to save this important heritage from decay, however all these reports are several years old.

As I could not find any new reports on the faith of this important historic building, I wonder if any of my Canadian friends have more details on this subject.


Blogaire said...

What a fascinating post Zuzana. It made me think of how technology had changed our lives. It would be hard to even imagine life without computers and the Internet, or cd's and dvd players, or digital cameras, or mobile phones or Skype...
I can remember a black & white television in our home, my Super 8 movie camera, my first tape recorder, buying 45rpm records ...
Oh how our lives have changed, but definitely for the better. I wonder what will the next fifty years bring?

Gal Friday said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gal Friday said...

Thanks for feeding my brain this morning!
It truly was an amazing undertaking to lay the first cables under the Atlantic, connecting two continents and the beginning of modern communications. I had never really learned about the history of the first telegraph cable,but your entry this morning got me interested. So I decided to educate myself further and found a site, here:

I am old enough that my birth was announced by way of cable--"It's a girl!" to pass on the news to my grandparents in another state.

Gal Friday said...

Betsy Brock said...

They laid it across the floor of the Atlantic? Wow..I never knew that! That's actually a little hard to comprehend...truly amazing!

Keith said...

That is so interesting. Wow. I had no clue. I always wondered how it worked, but I really wasn't sure at all. It is neat to think about the various kinds of tech through the years. Great post.

Maria said...

I heard about that cable. Ireland is in quite a strategic place, people on the west side often say 'our nearest neighbour is America'. I thoroughly enjoy the fact that many of your posts mention my Ireland....

United Studies said...

As someone who has studied telecommunications in college, I find things like this fascinating. And at the same time, I do sit back sometimes and think about how technology has changed our lives.

One time my mom and I were talking, and we were trying to figure out how we functioned without cellphones. We couldn't remember what it was like to have to track down a pay phone and call someone that way.

Tereza Š. said...

you always write about soo much interesting thinks! The technology ahs gone really far and I am interested how much far will it go! :)

Měj se,


Your comment made me smile, it's nice to know I'm keeping you 'in the loop' so to speak ;) and your layouts always look amazing. Great job, gorgeous!!!


Holly said...

What a great post!! I really enjoyed this. Plus,...I adore the phone booth picture! I actually used phone booths that looked like that when I was in London.

Yesterdays apartment post was fun as well. :):)

Brian Miller said...

it is amazing to me how far we have come even in my brief lifetime. makes me wonder what our kids will look back at and wonder how we did it.

Diane said...

I love to tell Ryan about how it was in the 'olden days', which were only 20 years ago! ;)

Claus said...

What and interesting entry!! It got me thinking on two aspects: a) I feel old! hahaha Back in my young days there was not any of the "usual" things of today. My young neighbor friend cannot imagine her life without a PC and her mobile, while at that same age all I thought about was where to find a encyclopedia to do my paper for the next day :-)
b) how long did it take for Guatemala to get access to modern means of communication. Even today, things get a little later to us than they do to other parts of the world. Of course, with Internet, this has improved, but not so long agon - and I'm meaning some 5 or 8 years the most - we were a bit behind. Imagine back in the transatlantic cable days"!

Phivos Nicolaides said...

Technology is running so fast, that sometimes we can't understand it!!

Zuzana said...

thank you for your kind words and so very right you are. Today, we take many things for granted, the instant communication we have with the world at a stroke of a key. I remember the same; I grew up with a black and white TV and I even remember carriage drawn by horses as means of transportation in the country side.;))
Always happy to see you stop by.;))

I am so happy you enjoyed this post. I find achievements such as these extremely fascinating. And thank you for the link! I really enjoy reading all the information.;))
The fact that the announcement of your birth was send by cable just reinforces the fact how much things has changed just in a few decades.;))

my sentiments exactly; amazing, isn't it?;)) xo

yes, isn't it just fantastic to discover some new hidden information that we did not know before? I love that every day I have a chance to learn something new. Always glad to have you visiting.;))

yes, i guess with your Irish roots you would have known about this.;)) Yes, Ireland is close to my heart.;) Particularly one Irishman.;)) xo

so true! I seem to also remember how difficult it would be if one was late for an appointment; no way of letting people know.
Glad this post was interesting to you.;)) xo

thank you and glad you enjoyed reading this.;)) As a member of the really young generation, it would be always so much fun to hear your take on things.;))

I am happy I can make you smile, it is important to do that every day.;))
Thank you for your kind words and right back at you.;))

thank you so much dear friend, I always appreciate your visits and kind comments.;)) Yes, the booth is cute, right?;) xo

I agree, just during the last fifty years things has changed rapidly. I bet your children really can not imagine a world without the internet.;))
Thank you for your visit.;)

I bet it must be so much fun to talk to Ryan at times and see her amusement at things you will tell her did not existed.;))
Always glad when you stop by dear friend.;))xo

thank you so much, glad you enjoyed this.;) So right you are about the way things change and the way we adapt to it. It becomes so obvious first when we think back how fast everything has gone.
I know what you mean by being behind; growing up in the eastern block, I grew up with a delay of about a decade in regards to not just technology, but also fashion and music.;))
Your visits always make me happy.;) xo

I could not have said it better myself, so true.;))

sujata sengupta said...

Laid the cable across the ocean wow!! that was a feat accomplished!! The video was super informative, thanks for sharing this one.

Gal Friday said...

"... just in a few decades"
Zuzana, oh you are so sweet to put it like that, when in fact the "few" decades are close to a half century's worth! ;-)

Hilary said...

You must be psychic! Of course you knew I'd bite at the challenge.. being one of them Canadians and all. Here's what I found.. it was posted just the day before your blog post. And I know you prepare a few posts at a time, so it probably came out just after you wrote it. In either event, it's timely.

Zuzana said...

so glad you enjoyed this post; yes isn't it just amazing that they laid a cable in the ocean? Glad yo enjoyed the video, I agree that it is very informative and not too long.;))

well, to be honest, you look not a day over twenty.;) What is your secret? Care to you share?;))

thank you, thank you dear friend!! How amazing!! Yes, you are right, I write my posts a few days prior, so I wrote this one before the article was published.;))
Happy to hear that the old Cable Station is going to be saved.;))
Thank you again.;))

Unknown said...

I am forever amazed at how much we take for granted! This was a nice look back, Protege! :)

Baron's Life said...

A very well thought out article...We haven't seen the end of it yet...Technology will still change and better things will come out that will make what we have today seem totally antiquated.

Zuzana said...

yes, we do, don't we? That is the way with progress, once we get used to things, we can not live without them.;)
Thank you for your kind visits.;)

=Baron't Life,
so right you are. Everything will keep evolving and sometimes I feel sad about the fact that I will not be around when new marvelous discoveries will be made...
Always glad when you stop by.;)