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The Romance of Modern Invention

In 1902 Archibald Williams channelled his enthusiasm about the rapid changes that were happening in media, communication and transport into this book. Here he looks at remote communication, recording and sending text, images and sound and at the various technologies for recording animation. This is the voice of a technologist from the crucible of the information era.
His writing is clear and entertaining and covers not only the underlying technologies, but also some of the personal and social ramifications of the dawning world of global communications. This was a glorious time when it seemed like everything was being invented and everybody wanted to be an inventor! Amongst the devices and topics he writes about are:
The Photophone (a lesser known project of Graham Bell’s)
The political and social reasons why the French car industry overtook the British
The Telephonograph (or ‘voicemail’ as we now call it)
The workings of the first advertising service on the Hungarian Telephone system
The impact of mass electronic media on society
The inventions that he describes became the building blocks of today’s technology and his observations are sometimes sharp and astute and sometimes wildly inaccurate, showing the inherent dangers in predicting the future of technology and society. All in all a fascinating read for today’s designers of media and communication systems and anybody else with an interest in the history of technology.