Book Review

Randy Mays
Sun, 14 Feb 1999 10:26:03 -0600

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I am reading, and want to recommend, an excellent book titled The Victorian
Internet by Tom Standage.  As the cover notes, this is "the remarkable
story of the telegraph and the nineteenth century's on-line pioneers." 
Tom Standage is the science writer for "The Economist" (attention Hal: 
this is a British magazine).

What has stuck me so far about this book is the number of parallels between what happened in the first days of the telegraph (which was not electric, by the way) and what is happening today, both in the commercial world and in ham radio.  One example:  the French came up with some very innovative optical telegraphs (line of sight, different patterns to form characters,etc.).  Because they were so good at this, and because they had built such a large infrastructure, when the electric telegraph came along, they were slow to catch up.

The book also talks about the technical problems of the first attempt at a trans-Atlantic cable, and how the same kind of engineering mistakes we see today (including the infamous "not invented here" syndrome) were made then.

The Victorian Internet is available at Barnes & Noble.  I ordered my copy through their Web site.  The only thing I do at bookstores these days is buy magazines and have an occasional scone.  It's much easier to have the mail carrier deliver a book to your house than to go through the ordeal of buying it and carrying it out to your car, which may be as much as 50 yards from the front of the store.

Attention, Paul:  would you consider including a more thorough book review in the next AMRAD newsletter?  I was going to write something on Litz wire, but each time I started working on the article I dozed off.