Data Communications Time-line by Don R. House, N.S.E.
Data in communications is defined as information, other than voice, transmitted in real
time over a medium to a distant location other than voice.
The telegraph has paved the way for other forms of communication such as the telephone and now internet webcasts. Webcast providers enable pictures, text, and speech all to be relayed in real time allowing for easier communication.
Prior to 1300
FIRE, SMOKE, BELLS, TRUMPETS, DRUMS AND GUNS
1300 to today
FLAGS AND SEMAPHORE
Telegraph defined from the Greek... TELE = Afar GRAPHOS = Write
First telegraph in Bavaria. Samuel Soemmering. Used 35 wires with
gold electrodes in water. Detection at distant end 2000 feet away was
by the amount of gas caused by electrolysis.
First telegraph in the USA. Harrison Dyar sent electrical sparks
through chemically treated paper tape to burn dots and dashes.
Samuel F.B. Morse and Alfred Vail were issued a patent for the first
practical telegraph based on electromagnets. Relays were used every
10 miles to repeat the signals. In Morse coding there are 11
different characters between American and European codes.
Samuel Morse and Alfred Vail introduce a Morse printer that uses ink
and electromagnets to print dots and dashes on paper tape.
Royal E. House of Vermont produces a printing telegraph that uses
paper tape, a type-wheel and a piano style keyboard. One key for
David Hughes, a music professor in Kentucky uses a vibrating spring
tuned to a specific pitch to synchronize the sending and
receiving teleprinter with use a code invented by him.
Telegraph becomes the greatest means of communications ever. Over
83,000 miles of wire in the USA alone dedicated to telegraph. At
the same time development of the telephone begins.
J.M.E. Baudot in France invents the multiplex telegraph system
where at least 4 stations can transmit simultaneously (actually
serially) through the use of a distributor. The transmitters are
like a miniature piano with five keys. Each combination of keys
equals a character. Paper tape is used as the printed media.
Baudot's 5 unit code forms the basis for the european standard CCITT
International Telegraph Alphabet No. 1 (ITA-1)
Donald Murray improves the 5 unit code with new character
assignments and adds two shifts. This becomes the basis of CCITT
Alphabet No. 2 (ITA-2) which is still in use one hundred years later.
Charles Krum perfects the 5 unit ITA-2 code with a start-stop
sequence to allow teletypewriters to be used in commercial
applications. One coded character is 7.42 unit intervals.
e.g. START, ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR, FIVE, STOP= 1.42 unit
intervals made possible the mass mechanization of telegraph.
Jay Morton of the Morton Salt dynasty funded Krum's experiments.
The Morkrum Company was established with its ownership shared by
Charles Krum and the Morton family.
The Morkrum Company developed its first commercial printer. A
field trial was conducted with the Alton Railroad. The trial was
successful, but the Alton Railroad made no purchase.
The Postal Telegraph purchased the first commercial Morkrum
equipment. In 1912, Western Union (having split from Western
Electric) purchased the same device. Although these M10 units
were mechanically successful, none were commercially successful
The Associated Press adopted Morkrum M10 printing telegraph equipment
to provide simultaneous service to competitive newspapers in New York City.
Morkrum Company operation was expanded from its "garage"
type facility. Employees numbered "over 200".
The M11 type-wheel tape printer, went into production. It constituted
the first commercially acceptable and successful unit, The M11
was manufactured through 1927 with 883 machines being produced.
The M12, a type-bar page printer with moving platen, was first
marketed. Previous to 1922, printing telegraph was limited largely to commercial-telegraph
and railroad uses. The M12 page printer opened the way to general
business uses. Substantial numbers of this unit were sold through
1930, with quantity, too, being sold as late as 1943. A total of
11,899 M12 units were sold.
The M14 type-bar tape printer was first marketed. The machine
reached its highest production in 1929 and 1930. A total of
60,000 units had been sold when the device was manufacture
discontinued in the late 1950s.
The Morkrum & Kleinschmidt Companies merged to form the Morkrum-Kleinschmidt
The title Morkrum-Kleinschmidt was found to be too cumbersome and
was dropped in favor of "Teletype."
The M15 type-bar page printer with stationary platen was introduced.
This machine soon became the "bread and butter" unit of
Teletype, reaching its peak output during WWII. Through 1954,
about 200,000 were sold. A large percentage of Bell System
Teletypewriter Exchange (TWX) stations were of the M15 vintage.
The Teletype Corporation was purchased by the Bell System and
became a wholly owned subsidiary of the Western Electric
Corporation. The Bell System at this time, was formulating plans
for a new teletypewriter exchange service called TWX. The
Teletype Corporation was selected and purchased to provide the
necessary equipment for the proposed service.
TWX (Teletypewriter Exchange Service) was inaugurated by the Bell
System. Terminal equipment provided by the Teletype Corporation
was of the M15 type.
The M14 tape punch was first marketed. Approximately 50,000 units
were sold through the late 1950s when the device was manufacture
discontinued. About 90% of all effort at Teletype was devoted to
Models 19 and 20 developed for auto-control of transmission -
19ASR and for 6 unit teletypesetting - the Model 20
The first M28 page printer was delivered to the Navy. This
represented approximately 12 years of research and development
effort. The M28 line was accepted by the Bell System as a
successor to the M14, 15 and 19 lines of equipment in 1956. The
M28 design principle constituted the corporations basic approach
to both message and data recording equipment until 1960.
The first "DataPhone" is developed by Bell Laboratories.
About the size of a small desk it operates totally analog circuitry
at the speed of 50 bps. Model 29 was scheduled to replace the Model
20, but it never happened. Model 31RO and KSR Tape Printer is
invented for the miliary.
Teletype Corporation assembles for the first time under one roof
in their new quarters in Skokie, Illinois. A multi-million dollar
plant with a million and a half square feet of operating area and
employing over 6,000 workers, it represented a milestone in the
history of the Teletype Corporation. Manual TWX stations are all
converted to dial.
The Model TT-242 is rejected by the Navy in favor of the MITE
compact teletypewriter. It becomes the basis for the model 32 and
33. The M35 and M33 lines of equipment. While the M35 is merely
an 8 level version of the M28, the M33 represented the marriage
of many proven designs into a totally new design, best described
by the term "low cost concept." Approximately 6 years
of research and development went into the Models 242, 32 and 33.
First generation Bell System DataPhones (modems) are sold
commercially. Speeds offered are from 45 to 2400 bits per second.
American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) as a
standard code set is developed and standardized by Electronic
Industry Association (EIA)
Analog Wide-Band Data service is first offered using specially built
facilities able to transmit and receive data at 50 kilobits per
second. Don House starts with Illinois Bell Telephone Co., the
highest revenue earner in the Bell System with over 44,000 employees.
The first and longest strike against the Bell System by members of
the Communications Workers of America and the International
Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. The strike lasts almost 6 months.
Digital Data Service (DDS) is started up by the Bell System offering
synchronous digital data communications services from 2400 bits
per second (bps) to 56000 (56K) bps. DDS is the single greatest
advance in the history of data communications by pioneering the
transmission of totally high speed digital signals.
Much development goes into new concepts and new forms of data station
equipment. "Machines that make data move" becomes Teletypes
trade slogan. Devices such as the Dataspeed paper tape senders and
receivers operating at 750 - 2000 words per minute. The Inktronic
printer that sprayed 80 characters at a time on a roll of paper at
2400 words a minute. R & D is working overtime on new projects
for the Bell System and the government. TWX is sold to Western Union.
Second generation Dataphones now offered by the Bell System at
speeds up to 19200 bps. Increased competition takes away sales.
The Teletype Corporation produced the newer "Black line" of
Model 40, 4540 electronic display terminals and chain type based
printers. The Models 42 and 43 dot matrix terminals are
introduced. They also produced the Magnetic Tape Terminal as an
adjunct for both the Models 43, and 40 lines of equipment.
Divestiture of the Bell System. Teletype name is dropped along with
its logo to be replaced by AT&T and the "Death Star"
logo. Operations in Skokie are discontinued and operations
consolidate in Little Rock, Arkansas. Many employees are laid off.
Then the operation in Little Rock manufacturing the 5310
terminals and printers is closed down and moved to Singapore, China.
It was during this period that Don House founded and began what is
now incorporated as the North American Data Communications
Museum (NADCOMM) a California Not-For-Profit, Public Benefit
Corporation. The museum collective now has 5 locations across
the country. The museum is operated and administered solely by
volunteers, mostly veterans of the data communication revolution.
All that is left of the Bell System and Teletype Corporation is what is
in the history books and in our memories. Approximately 12,000 Teletype
machines world wide still exist in the hands of third world countries,
amateur radio operators and collectors.