Ever wondered what will life be without smartphones and computers? At the dinner table, parents frown when children play with their phones. And the busy executives work with their tablet while on the move. In short, we have become slaves to these devices. But how did human communicate back in the early days?

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Communication In The Past

Indigenous tribes used smoke signal, horns or drums to communicate in ancient times. Then postal services started in the 5th century with the popular use of pigeons, dogsled and donkeys. 

These physical deliveries of documents were gradually replaced in 1836 with the introduction of telegraph which used Morse codes to spell out the messages.

Years later in 1876, the world’s first telephone was invented and patented by Alexander Graham Bell. I still remember seeing those bulky telephones with a rotary dial when I was a child. 

Telephones have changed so much since those days. Did you know that it was from the 80’s menhir-like “brick phones” to the iconic Nokia handsets that paved way to what we know as the smartphones today? 

These old brick phones weighed a heavy 1.15 kg and were 10 inches long with battery power lasting only 20 minutes. I have friends who told me it is a good defensive tool against robbers!

And how can we forget about radio? It was the most powerful communication tool among the Allies during World War 1. In fact, 80 years ago, thousands of listeners believed actor Orson Welles that Martians were invading New Jersey when he made an announcement in a radio show, “The War of the Worlds”. 

They rushed from their homes with towels on their faces to protect themselves in case gas was spewed out by aliens! Since then, we have the entertainment box known as television and followed by video, VCD and DVD.

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World Wide Web

The World Wide Web or internet was publicly made available in 1991 and have since, opened up a whole new era of communication. Before the internet, I remember using facsimiles to send business documents. But soon, we use email, text messaging and even video chatting and video conferencing for long-distance communication. 

“The way we do business has changed a lot. The internet and now mobile apps have taken business and social networking to a new level” says Dr Madelene Ong, co-founder of a mobile app, FlipBizz.

Does that mean face-to-face communication is no longer relevant? 

“Technology is soulless but the trend is now going back to the basic, in which human touch is equally important. No matter how busy we are with our gadgets, we still need to meet up at one point or another,” says Mr Ho Kim Hong, CEO
of FlipBizz. 

He adds, “In fact, mobile apps complement face-to-face communication. We call it Humanizing Business Online.”

Whatever it is, our modes of communication may change from time to time, but our physical interaction with our loved ones is still much needed today. 

Text by Francis Yip 

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