Report: Timeline of Communication Systems

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  0 - 1400 A.D.

A smoke signals network covers the Roman Empire

The Roman smoke signals network consisted of towers within a visible range of each other and had a total length of about 4500 kilometers. It was used for military signaling.
For a similar telegraph network in ancient Greece see Aeneas Tacitus' optical communication system.

About 750
In Japan block printing is used for the first time.

In China the world's first dated book, the Diamond Sutra, is printed.

In China moveable types made from clay are invented.

First European medieval university is established in Bologna.

The first of the great medieval universities was established in Bologna. At the beginning universities predominantly offered a kind of do-it-yourself publishing service.

Books still had to be copied by hand and were so rare that a copy of a widely desired book qualified for being invited to a university. Holding a lecture equaled to reading a book aloud, like a priest read from the Bible during services. Attending a lecture equaled to copy a lecture word by word, so that you had your own copy of a book, thus enabling you to hold a lecture, too.

For further details see History of the Idea of a University, http://quarles.unbc.edu/ideas/net/history/history.html

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Timeline of Communication Systems
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+1   1400 - 1500 A.D.
+2   1500 - 1700 A.D.
+3   1700 - 1800 A.D.
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Optical communication system by Aeneas Tacitus, 4th century B.C.
Aeneas Tacitus, a Greek military scientist and cryptographer, invented an optical communication system that combines water and beacon telegraphy. Torches indicated the beginnings and the ends of message transmissions while water jars were used to transmit the messages. These jars had a plugged standard-size hole drilled on the bottom side and were filled with water. As those who sent and those who received the message unplugged the jars simultaneously, the water drained out. Because the transmitted messages corresponded to water levels, the sender indicated by torch signal that the appropriate water level has been reached. It is a disadvantage that the possible messages are restricted to a given code, but as this system was mainly used for military purposes, this was offset by the advantage that it was almost impossible for outsiders to understand these messages unless they possessed the codebook.

With communication separated from transportation, the distant became near.

Tacitus' telegraph system was very fast and not excelled until the end of the 18th century.

For further information see Joanne Chang & Anna Soellner, Decoding Device, http://www.smith.edu/hsc/museum/ancient_inventions/decoder2.html