The Roots of Progress

The Victorian Internet

The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century's On-line Pioneers

Tom Standage

A history of the telegraph, short and readable. The optical telegraph, which preceded the electrical version, stands as an excellent example of an idea behind its time. I found it interesting that many observers expected the telegraph to lead to increased understanding between distant peoples and thus contribute to a new era of world peace—another example of the 19th-century over-optimism about the impacts of technology and about moral progress.

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