EVOLUTION OF COMMUNICATION
1. Silence Phase
Primitive men were moving without language for their business of living. But there were big sounds all around them. Lions roaring, huge trees falling, heavy rains falling on mountain tops with peculiar thuds, thunder following lightning, gurgling rivers formed from noisy water falls, and so on. It is possible that one old human uttered a noise, slighting a fierce animal in the night and that caught the attention of fellow humans, some standing outside the cave and other inside. Somehow, the noise produced by the old man conveyed the sense of fear and alarm to his companions, and all of them huddled in the corner of their dark cave expecting the lion to come and attack them. Luckily, the lion had passed by. And when it was dawn, streaks of sunlight entered the cave in a gingerly fashion and the inmates could see one another. They exchanged a smile of relief and joy. One of them dared to peep through the crevice at the entrance. Gradually they gained self confidence and stirred out to a bright, lion-less environment. And they must have uttered sounds of joy but still they did not have a language with words.
2. Verbal Phase
Silent phase came to an end when sounds produced with joy and happiness or fright and alarm, began to be introduced by humans. Gradually, sounds began to acquire meanings – some with joy and happiness, others with fright and alarm. A third set of sounds (of the ‘ouch’ family) began to be associated with pain. Thus evolved their unwritten sound dictionary! Humans of a certain region had their own characteristic set of sounds to express their meanings. In course of time not just a few years, but centuries or even millennia humans of small settlements (probably agricultural settlements near big rivers, meaningful speech evolved. It happened some 35,000 years ago.
If we take 35,000 years as one calendar year, the technique of writing and the materials for writing (such as palm leaves, papyrus, the stylus, parchments, dyes, natural inks, vellum, scrolls, etc.) developed some 6000 or 7000 years ago, in the third week of October in imaginary calendar.
(a) Litho Printing
Second century A.D. was the starting period for Litho (stone) or wooden block printing. Writing, as mentioned before, evolved in the 7th or 8th millennium B.C. It is said that it developed in the Euphrates-Tigris delta, in the region of Phoenicia, Sumeria or Akkadia, what is important is that the people of that region started to make marks on the clay or sand for sounds – each cuneiform figure representing a sound. Invention of writing was really a great achievement of human kind. When this system of writing spread to regions around the Mediterranean Sea – to Greece, Mesopotamia, Egypt, etc. it acquired different names. The Greeks called it alpha-beta (the first two characters of their sound-writing system) which when transferred to Rome and the Latin region acquired the name alphabet. The Egyptians called their system, hieroglyphic (priest’s writing, literally) and the people of the Indus Valley, of Mohanjodaro and Harappa called it Brahmi (the language of the Gods).
(b) Individual Letter Blocking
Whatever was written in clay cuneiform style or using stylus took a long time to complete. Humans needed a quicker form or device for replication of a written document, especially religious text, accounts of the quantity of grains coming to the temples from different sources, etc. Printing originally meant hand-printing or making imprints by the hand. Gradually, impressions were made on wood (by cutting and chiselling) and on stone (lithography) and these etchings were copied on to parchments or paper (from papyrus) using natural dyes (later called printing inks). Even this required a lot of time. There arose the need for individual blocks for alphabets. This system pf individual letter blocking was invented by the Chinese in the first decade of the 10th century (by a man named Pi Sheng). It spread to Korea in the 11th century. The Koreans perfected a system of printing from these individual movable letter blocks. The system was prevalent in the Far East in the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries.
(c) Movable Type Printing
It was the travellers who got credit to carry on knowledge from one part of the world to other. Marco Polo, the great European traveller and travelogue writer was greatly impressed by the system of printing from movable types. Probably he carried the information to Europe after spending two decades in China and the Far East. He probably impressed upon scholars and printers about the desirability of printing from movable types. But it was left to a goldsmith in Mainz, Germany, by name Johann Gutenberg to use the new system (movable type printing) in Europe. This happened in 1450 A.D., that is, in the middle of the 15th century. After the invention of writing in the seventh or eighth century B.C., Gutenberg’s invention was the second great revolution in communication. It accelerated the process of printing. In one year, the number of books printed in Europe rose to 25,000 copies from the mere 25 copies produced in the pre-Gutenberg era. No wonder, Gutenberg is credited with the epithet, Father of Modern Printing. The art and science of printing did not flourish, for some mysterious reason, in the orient. The result was that the orient was pushed back into an intellectually non-productive era when the Occident galloped intellectually and succeeded in spreading its view of the world around the globe.
(d) Printing on a Large Scale
Back to our imaginary calendar. Gutenberg’s technological marvel, the first major step in mass communication (printing on a large scale) occurred on or about December 27 of our magic calendar.
(e) Telegraph System
The telegraph system, also known as the Morse Code was developed by Samuel F.B. Morse of the United States in 1844. Originally intended for exchanging messages between trading and military posts, the telegraph was first used in a big way for maintaining contacts between and among railway stations. The railways became the chief commercial artery by mid-19th century in England, North America and most parts of Europe. Then they spread to the colonies of England, Holland and other Western powers. Soon the telegraph system became widespread in the European and American colonies throughout the world. On our calendar, this event could be said to have occurred on December 30. In a few “seconds” from the invention of the telegraph by Morse and others, wireless telegraphy and the radio emerged, mainly to maintain quick contacts between corporations on the land and their ships at sea.
(f) Motion Picture
Meanwhile, the motion picture had appeared on the horizon, entertaining many millions including even those who could not afford the luxury of owning a radio set or of subscribing to newspapers and magazines. This was especially true of societies consisting of very large numbers of illiterate people.
(g) TV and Satellite Communication
If the motion picture and the radio appeared at 10 a.m. on December 31 on our calendar, TV which actually was in the making during the late 1920s and early 1930s, became the most fascinating medium of entertainment at 5 p.m. on December 31. Satellite communication, video display terminals (VDTs), video cassette recorders (VCRs), videotex, teletext, community antenna TV (CATV), closed circuit TV (CCTV), cable system, ‘virtual reality’ (VR) and other telematic, computerized systems of communication (we can call it communication) came on the scene by about midnight. The media scene is throbbing at the threshold of the New Year, at least in rich countries, generally and in poor countries’ rich quarters, with the latest devices of electronic mail (e-mail) and the Internet. Today, we see the phenomenon of convergence among different systems of communication since electronic devices are used in all the media.