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European Themeroute | Communication

The final phase of industrialisation witnessed a revolution in communications: circulation figures for newspapers reached hitherto unknown heights, people were able to communicate directly across oceans and mountains, and photography became the first mass reproducible art form. The initial wave of ... more

Icon: CommunicationEuropean Theme Route Communication

The final phase of industrialisation witnessed a revolution in communications: circulation figures for newspapers reached hitherto unknown heights, people were able to communicate directly across oceans and mountains, and photography became the first mass reproducible art form. The initial wave of changes affected the traditional medium of paper. Towards the end of the 18th century demand for paper had risen to such an extent that it could no longer be met by manual production. In 1799 a Frenchman by the name of Nicolas-Louis Robert invented the first papermaking machine. His solution took the form of a continuous screen moving like an endless belt between two rollers. It was stretched across a barrel to catch the watery pulp and produce a continuous strip of paper instead of individual sheets. This was the start of unbroken production. In the following years a British engineer by the name of Bryan Donkin improved the machine by drying the long strip of paper between steam heated cylinders, smoothing it out and winding it into rolls.

Now the traditional raw material used in papermaking – cotton rags – proved insufficient to meet demand. Around the middle of the 19th century a weaver from Saxony named Friedrich Gottlob Keller discovered that it was also possible to process wood to paper pulp by grinding it down mechanically into fibres. In 1854 Charles Watt und Hugh Burgess 1854 developed a soda process to produce smooth and more durable fibres chemically: they boiled up wood and added sulphur to produce cellulose. Unfortunately the chemicals used in the process made the paper industry the second greatest polluter of the environment in the 19th century, after the textile industry.

Modern methods of printing received a decisive boost with the introduction of the high-speed printing press by the German book printer, Friedrich Koenig. Instead of using a flat platen press, a rotating cylinder was used to push down the roll of paper against a flat inking table. This was the process used in London to produce the first copy of the Times in 1814. Since printing could now be done more quickly, newspapers were more up-to-date and circulation rose. The principle was further improved by the introduction of the rotary printing press in America by Richard Hoe, an invention which he patented in 1845. He succeeded in producing a printing press in which a curved cylindrical impression was run between two cylinders. It was not long before long continuous rolls of paper were introduced. This enabled newspapers to be printed in a single continual conveyor belt process.

Now the only hurdle left was the problem of setting the type, which was traditionally done by hand. This was solved in the USA in 1884 by a watchmaker named Ottmar Mergenthaler whose Lynotype machine revolutionised the art of printing by using a keyboard to create an entire line of metal matrices at once. Once these were assembled, the machine forced a molten lead alloy into a mould sandwiched between the molten metal pot and the line of matrices, which were then returned to the proper channels in the magazine in preparation for their next usage. This process produced a complete line of type in reverse, so it would read properly when used to transfer ink onto paper. The completed slugs (lines of type) were then assembled into a page "form" that was placed in the printing press. The word linotype, by the way, derives from the phrase "line of type". Newspaper sales were incredibly high especially in the most important mass market, the USA.

Around the end of the 19th century the revolution in the newspaper industry received a further boost from the invention of photography. People had known for a long time that it was possible to produce an image with a lens. It was also known that light can affect certain substances. But it was not until 1827 that a French teacher by the name of Nicéphore Niépce succeeded in creating the first durable image. Later Louis Daguerre improved photography by exposing a sensitive silver-coated copper plate to the light for several minutes. But the decisive step to making photography a mass medium - reproduction - was taken by the Englishman, William Talbot Fox, who developed a blueprint process which enabled prints to be taken from a single negative. Finally, in the 1890s, the American George Eastman invented celluloid roll film, and it was not long before the Eastman-Kodak company began to market box cameras to the general public.

The electrical telegraph opened up a new dimension in communications. Since the start of the 19th century dozens of inventors had been experimenting with sending news via weak electric wires over long distances and in real time. But in order to make this practicable people had to be able to understand the nature of electricity better, especially the connection between electric current and magnetism. In 1837 two Englishmen by the name of Wheatstone and Cooke patented the first electromagnetic telegraph and put it into use for railway traffic. The receiver contained a dial with the letters of the alphabet arranged upon it. To send a message, magnetic needles were turned towards the desired letters. The magnetism induced an electric current which was then sent through several wire circuits to another receiver. The current set the magnetic needles on the second receiver in motion, and these then pointed to the same letters which had been typed in by the sender.

In the same year in the USA, an amateur researcher by the name of Samuel Morse used an alternative system that only required a single wire line. In order to broadcast a message, the information was first coded into two different impulses, short and long: dots and dashes. This simple telegraph alphabet soon established itself, not least because Morse was able to deliver a new receiver which automatically recorded the messages on a moving strip of paper. A worldwide telegraph network was subsequently established on a basis similar to the binary code: an early form of the internet.

A thousand kilometres of telegraph wire had already been laid – including under the ocean – when Guglielmo Marconi gave the first demonstration of wireless telegraphy. In the apparatus he made in 1896, jumping sparks produced electromagnetic waves which transmitted sounds and speech way beyond visible distances. With the aid of ever higher antennae people were able to cover increasingly large distances. Later people learnt how to exploit the influence of wave frequencies on broadcasting. Short wave transmitters, for example, enabled people to communicate with far-off ships at sea – one of the advantages of wireless telegraphy. Today radio, television and mobile telephones work on the same principle.

At first only a very few people recognised the commercial potential of the telephone. In 1861, a German, Philipp Reis, was the first person to succeed in transmitting voices and sound electrically. But the commercial exploitation of voice communications only began with the telephone that Alexander Graham Bell, a professor of vocal physiology and elocution, presented to the American public in 1876. Here one person spoke into an apparatus consisting essentially of a thin membrane carrying a light stylus. The membrane was vibrated by the voice and the stylus traced an undulating line on a plate of smoked glass. The line was a graphic representation of the vibrations of the membrane and the waves of sound in the air. A second membrane device was used to receive the signals and transform them back into the spoken word. It was not long before the membrane devices were replaced by carbon microphones. Copper was used for the telephone lines, and around the turn of the 20th century developments in telephone engineering began a triumphant march that was to continue into the 21st century.



Lahti | Finland
The name of the Finnish town of Lahti appeared on the dials of radio sets in most European countries in the 1930s. Lahti is situated in central Finland, and after a private radio station began transmission there in 1924, it was chosen by the Finnish Broadcasting Corporation, established in 1926, to ...

Radio & Television Museum
Radio- ja TV-Museo Radiomäki
Radiomäenkatu 25
15110 Lahti, Finland

Museum of Cardboard and Printing Musée du Cartonnage et de l'imprimerie 3 Avenue Maréchal Foch  84600 Valréas France +33 4 90 35 58 75 [I can’t find this page]  ...

Museum of Cardboard and Printing
Musée du Cartonnage et de l'imprimerie
3 Avenue Maréchal Foch
84600 Valréas, France

The ‘colophon’ in publishing identifies the printer and date of a book. It is a suitable name for a museum that is a celebration of printing, typography and books. In a time when so much printing is digital, Colophon demonstrates its passion for paper, type and hand-made books. The museum is housed ...

Colophon - The Printer’s House
Colophon - Maison de l’Imprimeur
Maison du Bailli
26230 Grignan, France

The museum was begun by the master-printer Maurice Audin in 1964 and celebrated its half century with a major renovation in 2014. It occupies the Hôtel de la Couronne, a Renaissance house that became Lyon's first city hall. It has an internationally significant collection. An enormous range of ...

Museum of Printing and Graphic Communication
Musée de l'Imprimerie et de la Communication graphique
13, rue de la Poulaillerie
69002 Lyon, France

Malesherbes | France
AMI is the largest museum of printing in Europe – 5,000 square metres. It opened in 2018, created as the idea of Jean-Paul Maury, the chief executive of one of France’s largest printing companies, and his wife Chantal. It aims to help people understand the past and also look at the future of ...

AMI – Print Workshop Museum
AMI – atelier-musée de l'imprimerie
70, av. du Général Patton
45330 Malesherbes, France

The Cite des Sciences et de l’Industrie is one of Europe’s most imaginative interactive science centres. It is also an outstanding example of the successful adaptation to new purposes of a large industrial building. The activities of the various abattoirs and wholesale meat markets of the city of ...

Cite des Sciences et de l’Industrie
30 avenue Corentin-Cariou
75019 Paris, France

Paris | France
The icon of Paris, the 325 m high structure that was the world’s tallest building between 1889 and 1931, is one of the most imposing monuments which survive from the international exhibitions of the 19th and 20th centuries. Its platforms provide spectacular prospects over the French capital. Since ...

Eiffel Tower
5 avenue Anatole France Champ de Mars
75007 Paris, France

Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat | France
Moulin du Got is a paper mill in the small village of Le Pénitent, about 15 kilometres east of Limoges. The mill stands next to the river Vienne. It was built originally in the fifteenth century. On the guided tour, visitors experience the full process of making paper and learn about the history of ...

Le Moulin du Got
Le Pénitent 87400 Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat
87400 Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat, France

Bad Münstereifel | Germany
To the east of the tourist town of Bad Münstereifel there are broad patches of forest on the hilltops of the Eifel. The area is only thinly populated and hikers are able to enjoy the countryside to the full. But near the hamlet of Effelsberg the forest suddenly opens out onto a gigantic white bowl ...

The Effelsberg Radio Observatory
Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie Radioobservatorium Effelsberg
53902 Bad Münstereifel, Germany

If you don’t believe that office work is bad for your health you should try the so-called “compulsory posture”, a kind of corset which imitates the unnatural position adopted by most people when they’re sitting in front of a computer. It is only one of countless experimentation points in the German ...

DASA - German Occupational Safety and Health Exhibition
Friedrich-Henkel-Weg 1-25
44149 Dortmund, Germany

Frankfurt am Main | Germany
The core of the museum of communications in Frankfurt is the part of the collection of the museum established in Berlin by Heinrich von Stephan (1831-97) that was removed to Hesse after the Second World War by the United States army. The collection was put on display, as the Federal Postal Museum, ...

Frankfurt Museum for Communication
Schaumainkai 53 (Museumsufer)
60596 Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Ideas for a museum in Hanover illustrating the history of energy were first discussed in 1979 at the time of the 50th jubilee of the Hannover-Braunschweigischen Stromversorgungs AG power company. The museum opened in its present premises in Humboldtstrasse in 1987. It has exhibits that relate to the ...

Avacon Netz GmbH Museum of the Histories of Energy
Museum für Energiegeschichte(n) der Avacon Netz GmbH
Humboldtstrasse 32
30169 Hannover, Germany

The museum of technology and labour in Mannheim opened in 1990 in a Modernist building designed by the Berlin architect Ingeborg Kuhler. Its objective is to illuminate the process of industrialisation during the last two centuries in Baden-Würtemberg, bringing together the history of technology with ...

TECHNOSEUM. Museum of Technology and Labour
Museumstrasse 1
68165 Mannheim, Germany

München | Germany
The Deutsches Museum von Meisterwerken der Naturwissenschaft und Technik (German Museum of the Masterpieces of Natural Science and Technology) holds one of the world’s most important collections of artefacts relating to science and industry, comparable with those of the Science Museum, London, the ...

Deutsches Museum
Museumsinsel 1
80538 München, Germany

The museum of communications in Nurnberg shares the premises of the railway museum, and the two comprise the city’s Verkehrsmuseum (Museum of Traffic), although the former is managed by the Museumsstiftung Post und Telekommunikation (Museum trust for post and telecommunications), established in 1995 ...

Nuremberg Museum for Communication
Lessingstrasse 6
90443 Nuremberg, Germany

Paderborn | Germany
Even in the second half of the 20th century the location of industry owed much to the enterprise of individuals, and the concentration of computer companies in Paderborn is largely due to Heinz Nixdorf (1925-86) who happened to be born in the city. His education was interrupted by military service ...

Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum
Fürstenallee 7
33102 Paderborn, Germany

Stuttgart | Germany
Rising, like a concrete-and-steelneedle, from the Degerloch Forest, the Fernsehturm, completed on 3 February 1956, was a symbol of Stuttgart’s recovery from the Second World War. It was designed by Dr Fritz Leonhardt, an engineer practising in the city. Most previous transmitting towers were simply ...

Television Tower
Jahnstrasse 120
70597 Stuttgart, Germany

Wadgassen | Germany
Here you can read texts for three hours on end if you like, says the museum director, Roger Münch. But the German Newspaper Museum offers more than simply texts to read, but plenty of hands-on activities and things to look at. The Premonstratensian abbey at Wadgassen used to contain a large ...

German Newspaper Museum
Am Abteihof 1
66787 Wadgassen, Germany

Seydisfjordur | Iceland
The town of Seydisfjordur (until recently spelt Seydhisfjordur) lies 400 km north-east of Reykjavik. The technical museum that illustrates many aspects of the history of the region has three principal exhibits that relate to the industrial heritage. The mechanical engineering workshop of Johann ...

East Iceland Technical Museum
Tǽkniminjasfn Asturlands
Hafnargötu 44
710 Seydisfjordur, Iceland

Dublin 4 | Ireland
The National Print Museum collects, documents, preserves, exhibits, interprets and makes accessible the material evidence of the printing crafts and associated skills in Ireland since the introduction of printing from moveable type in the sixteenth century. It was opened in 1996 and its collection ...

National Print Museum
Garrison Chapel Beggar’s Bush Barracks
Haddington Road
D04 E0C9 Dublin, Ireland