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Early Methods of Long-Distance Communication

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Joseph Jackson

on 6 October 2015

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Transcript of Early Methods of Long-Distance Communication

Early Methods of

Joseph Jackson

Smoke Signals
Smoke Signals
Fire Beacon
Fire Beacon
Homing Pigeon
Talking Drums
Talking Drums
Talking Drums
Ability to communicate a message to a person or group of people that are not in the exact physical location

Earliest documentation of Long-Distance communication begins with Smoke Signals

Being able to communicate with others in a different physical location allows others to know information without walking or traveling to the information source

: Puffs of smoke created from using a cloth over an open fire to indicate a pre-arranged message

Common Messages
1 Puff = Call for Attention
2 Puffs = Everything Okay
3 Puffs = Something is Wrong

Native Americans used smoke signals to communicate danger (enemies), hunting status (buffallo arriving/leaving), and protection (this area is safe, come here)

What did this mean for communication?
- People no longer needed to travel in order to receive basic "
" messages.
- This saved energy of those who needed to deliver messages orally.


Poor weather could decrease the message's visibility/quality
- Wind = Smoke signal thins out quickly / carried away
- Rain = Ability to create fire/smoke drastically affected
- Dark = Increased difficulty in viewing smoke puffs

The process of using a fire flame from a pre-defined location to signify a pre-arranged message.
- Binary Messsage
Fire = something happened
No Fire = nothing happened

- Allows messages to be sent at anytime of the day and
at further distances than smoke signals.

Historical Evidence
- Twelfth century BCE
-Used to signifiy "
Troy has fallen
during the Trojan War
- Clytemnrstra received the news
miles away

- Fire beacons were lit in Jerusalem to
notify the new moon's arrival

- Can also signal that an enemy is
approaching, retreat, "
we are
", or the begining of an event
: An hourglass-shaped drum from West Africa
that are beaten to transmit a tonal language

Transmit detailed messages, stories, poems
or music for entertainment
- History can be traced back to the Yoruba people and the Ghana Empire.
: Homing Pigeon are Pigeons that carry written letters to the 'home' source.

- Only work in one direction. They always fly
- To send a message, you first send the pigeon
to the other person. When they feel the need to
send you an urgent message, they attach the
message to the pigeon and let it go.

How Homing Pigeons find "Home"
Smoke Signal Image: http://assets1.bigthink.com/system/idea_thumbnails/44558/original/smoke-signal0.gif?1338408991
Background Image: http://blog.teamtreehouse.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/multiplane_landscape.png

Drum Image: http://www.clker.com/cliparts/T/J/O/R/Q/e/clear-african-drum-md.png
Pigeon Image: http://www.thatjessebloke.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/Pigeon_microsoft.jpg
Fire Beacon Clipart: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ea/Fire_Beacon_Badge_of_Henry_V.svg
Fire Beacon Photo: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/22/Armada_Beacon_-_geograph.org.uk_-_371508.jpg
Fire Beacon Image (Night): http://shekharkapur.com/creativeadda/userpics/5_beacon121_1.jpg
Fire Beacon Communication in
Lord of the Rings
Starting at 43 seconds
To spread messages further, several beacons are used to communicate a message.

Once a message is "sent" there is no "
Lord of the Rings Clip: youtube.com/watch?v=i6LGJ7evrAg
- Several African villages had their own adapted language for the drums

- Single words would be translated into phrases
- "Moon" = "
the Moon looks
down at the earth

: Allowed for detailed/complex messages to by sent and heard by several people at one time.
Demonstration of Talking Drum
1939 Clip Explaining Homing Pigeons
Smoke Signals
Historical Use
Ancient Era
Ancient China
-Pillars of smoke to signal enemy attacks along the Great Wall
Native Americans
- Each tribe had their own unique system
- Some used puffs, others use smoke pillars
Modern Day:
S.O.S signals
-Pillar of black smoke used as distress signals
(when in deserted location)
Selection of New Pope
- Black smoke = failed ballot
- White smoke = new Pope elected
White Smoke Signals Election of New Pope
Comunication Method Quality of Message Message Complexity
Smoke Signals

Fire Beacons

Talking Drums

Homing Pigeons
Simple or Complex
Simple or Complex
Ribbon Images: http://www.stickypony.com/icopals/798.png
White Smoke Video:www.youtube.com/watch?v=S98HUmSF-BE
The Meaning of Smoke Signals. Accessed on 1 October 2015 at http://www.indians.org/articles/smoke-signals.html
Smoke Signals

Fire Beacons

Talking Drums

Homing Pigeons
Communication Method Receiver Drawbacks
Serveral People at once
Serveral People at once
Serveral People at once
Message/Letter to one person
- weather dependent
- poor visibility at night
- weather dependent
Higher learning curve than
smoke signals and beacons
- Must be able to read/write
- Unknown if pigeon returned ‘home’
Methods of long distance communication improved, in terms of message
, throughout ancient times. As "technology" progressed, new methods allowed society to
meaningful information at a faster rate.
Improvements of early long-distance methods leads to the eventual findings of Morse's telegraph - a device that changed communication drastically
Modern Connection
- The light on lighthouses are similar to beacons.
- Captain sees no light = "water ahead", Captain sees light = "land nearby"
Several sizes can transmit different pitches
Historical Use
Gleick, James. (2011). The Information: a history, a theory, a flood. Chapter 1.
Talking Drums Image: http://www.djembe-art.de/djembe-images/images-afrikanische-trommeln/Djembe-Art-Talking-Drums-Tama-Mali-3a.jpg
- John F. Carrington, in 1949, explained how African drummers were able to communicate complex messages over vast distances
- Can be heard from 4-5 miles
Levi, Wendell (1977). The Pigeon. Sumter, S.C.: Levi Publishing Co, Inc. Pg 82.
Homing Pigeon
: Abililty to send detailed/long messages (which could be stored/
saved) to another source.
- Typically used in war to deliver paper letters to commanders
- Were used extensively during World War I
Historical Evidence
- They were used to proclaim the winner of the Olympics
Homing Pigeons. Wikkipia. Accessed on 4 October 2015 at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homing_pigeon#cite_ref-1
How Homing Pigeons find Home video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wl0Ii29XmNk
- Used as early as 1150 in Baghdad and also later by Genghis Khan.
These pigeons are carried in bombers, as a means of emergency communication devices in the event of a crash
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