IET: Celebrating 175 years of UK telecommunications

A major milestone in UK telecommunications will be celebrated next week. Telecommunications in the UK has transformed our lives, enabling everything from our mobile phones to our internet connections.

This year marks the 175th anniversary of the granting of the UK patent to Cooke and Wheatstone for the first commercially practical electric telegraph. From this, the telephone, radio, sound and television broadcasting, satellites, personal mobile communications and today’s internet were all developed.

To celebrate this milestone, the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) is holding a one-day symposium on 24 September. Experts will present on this and other developments in UK telecommunications, from those first steps in 1837 to the present day.

Experts will include John Liffen from the Science Museum, Andy Valdar, Visiting Professor of Telecommunications Strategy at UCL, and Nigel Linge, Professor of Telecommunications at the University of Salford.

Dr Mike Short CBE, IET President, who has 37 years’ experience in the telecommunications industry, said: “Cooke and Wheatstone were true innovators in their day, and helped found an industry that has affected us all over 175 years of telecommunications.

“Throughout this time the UK has continued to be a world leader in innovation for all customers, even in today's internet and broadband services.

“The way in which we communicate and trade internationally has changed beyond all recognition, and I’m sure this innovation is set to continue."

2012 is also the centenary of the opening of Britain’s first automatic telephone exchange in Epsom and the 50th anniversary of the launch of TELSTAR, the communications satellite which captured the world’s imagination. In addition, 75 years ago Alec Reeves was developing his ideas for pulse code modulation (PCM) which he patented the following year. An idea before it’s time PCM is today a foundation of the modern digital world.


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