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  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,

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Timeline of Communication Systems
-3   Timeline of Communication Systems: Introduction
-2   4000 - 1000 B.C.
-1   1000 B.C. - 0
0   0 - 1400 A.D.
+1   1400 - 1500 A.D.
+2   1500 - 1700 A.D.
+3   1700 - 1800 A.D.
More and more, faster and faster, but...
Chappe's fixed optical network
Claude Chappe built a fixed optical network between Paris and Lille. Covering a distance of about 240kms, it consisted of fifteen towers with semaphores.

Because this communication system was destined to practical military use, the transmitted messages were encoded. The messages were kept such secretly, even those who transmit them from tower to tower did not capture their meaning, they just transmitted codes they did not understand. Depending on weather conditions, messages could be sent at a speed of 2880 kms/hr at best.

Forerunners of Chappe's optical network are the Roman smoke signals network and Aeneas Tacitus' optical communication system.

For more information on early communication networks see Gerard J. Holzmann and Bjoern Pehrson, The Early History of Data Networks.