See also :Chronology of Communication after electronics to 1998,
A Chronology of Communication from electricity to electronics,
A Convoluted History of Early Telecommunications.



c. 20,000 B.C.- Cave painting is widespread in Eurasia. Etchings are figurative and revolve around hunting and animal migration. Representation is seen as a form of magic.

3500 B.C. - Earliest use of clay bullae in Sumeria, envelopes bearing marks that correspond to clay tokens inside; the precursor of the Sumerian writing system.

3100 B.C.- Earliest cuneiform markings representing words in Sumer, first language based writing system. Sharpened reeds are used to mark clay tablets, which are then dried in ovens. While cumbersome, many survive today (analog sometimes has one up on digital mediums).

c. 3000 B.C.- In Egypt, the earliest instances of hieroglyphic writing appear on slabs of slate in chapels and tombs. The papyrus roll and clay tablet soon become the dominant surfaces of writing.

c. 2800 B.C.- Egyptians introduce lunar calendar of 365 days as a civil calendar.

c. 2500 B.C.- Ink is in use in both Egypt and China.

c. 1800 B.C.- Earliest known samples of Chinese writing.

c. 1800 B.C.- The Babylonians are using an early form of the abacus.

c. 1500 B.C.- Water clock used in Egypt, cementing the idea of consistent and linear time into human affairs.

c. 1500 B.C.- Earliest organization of Vedas, an orally transmitted collection of sacred literature, chants and hymns, in South Asia.

c. 1400 B.C.- Linear B develops as a Mycenaean Greek orthography, scratched with a stylus on sun dried clay.

c 1300 B.C.- Chinese use primitive books made of wood or bamboo strips bound together with cords. Page-flipping is at last possible.

c. 1000 B.C.- Earliest surviving Phoenician inscriptions, in North Semitic Alphabet, probably ancestor of Greek alphabet and 22-letter Phoenician alphabet.

c. 1000 B.C.- First recorded use of pen by Chinese calligraphers.

c 750 B.C.- Development of Brahmin, the ancestor of modern Indian writing systems.

c. 750 B.C.- Earliest examples of Greek writing, based on Phoenician writing system.

c. 710 B.C.- Egyptians invent the sundial as a means to keep time.

c. 700 B.C.- Date of Praeneste Fibula, gold brooch containing earliest example of Latin alphabet.

c. 660 B.C.- Archive and library are organized by King Ashurbanipal in Nineveh, marking the first systematically organized library, born in the ancient Middle East. Some 20,000 tablets from it survive today, although the Persian Gulf War in 1990 saw heavy NATO bombing of the Ninevah library site.

c 550 B.C.- Appearance of writing from left to right. First public library founded in Athens by Pisistratus.

c. 500 B.C.- pre-Columbian civilizations use paper, and develop a simple mathematical notation.

c. 360 B.C.- Aristotle's school, the Lyceum, becomes a centre of philosophical investigation, which immediately begins to annoy elite leaders in Athens, and the philosopher ends up exectuted by the State.

c 350 B.C.- The Ionic alphabet of 24 letters is in use in Greece.

c. 345 B.C.- Speusippus writes first known fragments of an encyclopaedia.

c 300 B.C.- Emergence of a distinct Hebrew alphabet.

280 B.C.- Museum in Alexandria founded by Ptolemy I. Its first librarian, Zenodotus of Ephesus, provides the basis for modern textual criticism by making the first critical edition of Homer from the manuscripts it holds. The Great Library of Alexandria gradually becomes the apex of gathered knowledge until the Renaissance.

200 B.C.- Chinese perfect silk paper.

163 B.C.- Nien-hao dating system adopted by Emperor Wen Ti. The Chinese division of time into "eras" persists until 1911; they also begin using common plants in paper making.

c. 50 B.C.- The Julian calendar is perfected by the astronomer Sosigenes, who lengthens the Egyptian solar calendar of 365 days to 365 1/2.

59 B.C.- Acta Diurna ("Daily Events") is published as a daily gazette in Rome; it marks the first diffusion of public news.

c. 90- Quintilian elaborates principles for rhetorical education, classical sentence structure and the principles of rhetorical argument in Institutio Oratoria.

105- The Chinese develop a process for making paper, which reaches Central Asia by 751 and Baghdad in 793. Paper will not be introduced to Europe for another 1000 years.

c. 160- Parchment is developed in Asia Minor; it is said to have been invented in Pergamum in the second century B.C. as a reponse to an embargo on exporting papyrus from Egypt then ruled by Ptolemy. The Egyptians hoped to prevent Pergamum from developing their own libraries by curtailing writing materials.

c. 250- First codification of Hebrew oral laws in the Mishna.

c. 300 - The Mayans invent system of hieroglyphic writing.

c. 350- Development of the Arabic alphabet.

c. 350 - Development of Ethiopic script, originally used for Ge'ez, still used as a liturgical language in Ethiopia and Eritrea.

c. 350- Codex Sinaiticus, the oldest known Greek bound volume of pages.

c. 390 - Saint Augustine, while a wild one in his youth, coverts from Manicheanism to Christianty, becomes a respectable scholar and frames a system which dominates the structure of encyclopaedias. It is based on the ordering of human knowledge of the world and human customs as they pertain to salvation.

c. 400- Earliest "illustrated" Chinese scroll, forerunner to the narrative type, are used to depict moral lessons.

c. 550- Chinese develop block book printing, carving the proofs for pages in wood.

c. 550- The astrolabe is developed, reaching Europe from the Islamic world, and proves among the most versatile and important medieval instruments.

550- Cassiodorus founds a monastery and establishes a scriptorium at Vivarium where pagan works are copied and preserved, which stands out as a fairly controversial but enlightened stance for a clergyman to take in the midst of the Dark Ages.

618- First hand-copied pao, reports of court affairs, circulate among the educated civil servants of Peking.

C. 620- Wei Cheng writes the bibliographic section of the official Sui Dynasty History, dividing the books into four categories: Confucian classics, historical records, philosophical writings, and miscellaneous works.

c. 630- First specific reference made to a quill pen, in the writings of Isidore of Seville.

c. 700- Xylography, or wood engraving, is widespread in China.

712- The Kojiki is the first extensive document using Chinese characters to represent Japanese.

c. 750- Musical notation first developed in Europe. Chanting gets to be fairly popular, as musical instruments are expensive and materials scarce.

c. 830- Foundation of the Bayt al-Hikmah ("House of Wisdom"), in Baghdad, an academy which contains a public library with a large collection of materials on a wide range of subjects. It should be noded that at this time, as Europe languished in the worst of the Middle Ages, there were street lamps, perfumed avenues, manicured gardens, purified water and treated sewage in the major centers of the Middle East.

c. 850- Ibn Qutayba assembles first known Arabic encyclopaedia.

c. 850- Development of the cyrillic alphabet, used widely for Slavic languages.

868- In China, the first printed book, the Buddhist Diamond Sutra, is produced using carved blocks of wood. It includes a woodcut title page and numerous images.

ca 1000- Talmudic academies in Babylon and Palestine complete the Masoretic text, an authentic text of the Old Testament that synthesizes written versions and oral tradition.

c 1000- French scholar Gerbert of Aurillac, later Pope Sylvester II, introduces a type of abacus, in which numbers are represented by stones bearing Arabic numerals.

c. 1000- First references are made to movable type in China.

c. 1050- The translations of Arabic works lead to the introduction in Europe of the system of Arabic numerals, which greatly facilitate computation. Most of these materials become available in the West only after the Crusades.

1025- Guido of Arezzo develops the elements of musical staff notation in Benedictine abbey at Pomposa.

c. 1050- Foundation of University of Bologna, oldest in Europe, as a centre of civil and canon law.

c. 1050- The Chinese mathematician Shen Kua writes first description of movable type.

1086- William the Conqueror undertakes the first complete government census of land, possessions, and inhabitants, leading to the establishment of public archive.

c. 1100- First wax seals used to sign documents.

1135- Hugh of St. Victor establishes the encyclopaedia as a structure of Adamic knowledge in his Didascalion.

c. 1140- Decretum Gratiani ("Decree of Gratian"), a 12th-century collection of papal decrees, provides Europe's framework for legal education and decisions.

c. 1150- First European paper produced; the technique arrives via Italian ports with active commercial relations with the Arab world and also, probably, by the overland route from Spain to France. Suddenly pig and calfskin seem silly things to use for book pages.

c. 1190- The magnetic compass is in use in China and Mediterranean.

c. 1200- The Inca are using the quipu, an elaborate accounting apparatus consisting of a long rope from which hang a number of knotted cords representing units, tens, and hundreds and designating the different concerns of government.

1260- Franco of Cologne codifies time values in music, providing the basis for notation from thirteenth to fifteenth centuries.

1268- First recorded reference to eyeglasses is made by Roger Bacon.

1296- Oldest surviving Portolan chart, which plots coastlines in a way that will allow navigational distances to be measured by means of rhumb lines. It marks the birth of cartography as a profession.

c. 1300- Xylography appears in Europe, a system of printing by woodcuts.

1335- The first public mechanical clock that strikes the hours is erected in Milan, Italy.

c. 1350- Paper mills appear in Europe.

1370- Charles V of France standardizes the time of clocks in Paris as part of his effort to increase commerce in the capital. The Sun King will later, during the French Revolution, have his archers shoot the faces off these clocks in order to create public confusion among the uprising.

1373- The first inventory is made of the massive book collection housed in the Louvre, which later forms the basis for the Bibliothèque Nationale.

c. 1380- Xylography is first used to print engravings in Europe.

1383- Francesco Datini's use of double entry bookkeeping indicates the diffusion of the new commercial record keeping practice in Italy, which soon marks the beginnings of commercial banking.

1406-7- The Hellenistic authors Claudius Ptolemy's Geografia is first translated in Italy from Greek manuscripts. As well as providing a map that includes the Africa and Asia as continents, it provides a mathematically consistent method to project a curved sphere onto the flat surface along a grid.

1421- The first recorded patent for an industrial invention is granted to Filippo Brunelleschi.

c. 1430- First metallographic printing begins in [Holland and Rhineland. The encouraging results obtained with large type demonstrate the validity of the idea of typography and visual composition.

c. 1430- Leone Battista Alberti teaches artists techniques of perspective, which are later elaborated by Albrecht Durer in an influential 1537 treatise.

1444- King Sejong commissions invention of Korean Han'gu brevl, an alphabetic script whose letter shapes are based on phonetic properties of sounds. Han'gul does not come into wide use until 1880.

c. 1450- Appearance of incunabula, referring to those books printed in the first 50 years of printing, roughly upto 1500, and which were largely about religious subjects (the hot topic of the time) and were modelled after medieval manuscripts.

1455- With the innovation of movable type, Guttenberg produces the first printed bibles.

1463- The first printed title page is used on a papal bull.

1489- The first printed plus and minus signs appear in Germany.

c. 1490- News books are issued at the rate of 20 a year in England and the Continent, providing information on major events and public issues.

c. 1500- Appearance of the parenthesis completes the modern repertory of standard punctuation symbols.

1507- Martin Waldseemuller publishes the first maps that unite disparate lands in the New World into a land mass of America. His 120 engraved sheets integrate the latest discoveries into a series of precise visual maps.

1512- Franz von Taxis, postmaster to the Holy Roman emperor Maximilian I from 1489 and to Philip I of Spain from 1504, secures the right to carry both government and private mail throughout Europe.

1522- Martin Luther publishes the first vernacular translation of the Bible, which makes the Roman Catholic Church really annoyed, as adds to theological criticism and acts to demystify doctrine.

1537- Albrecht Durer publishes a manual that deals with the instruction and analysis of perspective in drafting illustrations, a book with immense influence on European cartographers.

1543- Andreas Vesalius publishes the first illustrated systematic anatomical atlas of the human body.

1552- Richard Huloet publishes English Latin Abecedarium, containing a greater number of English words than had before appeared in any similar dictionary. Along with other books of this type, it reflects an increase in literacy among a broad range of society.

1555- Conrad Gesner, Swiss naturalist, completes his Bibliotheca Universalis, a classification of all past and present writers.

1564- First catalogues of Frankfurt and Leipzig Book Fairs.

1565- First known description of the writing pencil.

1569- The Mercator projection introduced; it allows cartographers to plot navigational bearings as straight lines.

1570- Abraham Ortelius publishes the first modern atlas of the world, the Theatrum Orbis Terraru.

1571- The Medici make the books and classical manuscripts they have collected since the fifteenth century available to the public when they open their library in Florence.

1578- Introduction of Gregorian calandar or New Style solar dating system now in general use. It is proclaimed in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII to maintain coincidence of calendar and seasons- in it, no century is a leap year unless it is divisible by 400.

1583- By comparing previous calendars, Joseph Justus Scaliger correlates computations of time made by the various civilizations of antiquity, corrects their errors, and for the first time establishes chronology as a discipline on a scientific basis.

1584- The library of the Escorial opens in Spain. It is the first library to place books against the walls, set at right angles to the light source.

1585- The Dutchman Simon Stevin publishes an elementary and thorough account of decimal fractions and their daily use in a small pamphlet, La Thiende ("The Tenth").

1586- William Camden's Britannia publishes first comprehensive topographical survey of all England.

1604- Publication of the first purely English dictionary, Robert Cawdrey's A Table Alphabeticall, conteyning and teaching the true writing and understanding of hard usuall English wordes, borrowed from the Hebrew, Greeke, Latine, or French &c... Why we don't still have titles this good, who can say?

1608- The Dutch lens grinder Hans Lippershey applies for a patent on a telescope.

1612- Accademia della Crusca publishes the first dictionary that bases its definitions on literary examples of usage.

1614- The Scottish baron John Napier publishes the first table of logarithms, based on the principle that addition and subtraction are easier to compute than division and multiplication.

1620- Francis Bacon's Great Instauration published, the first comprehensive plan for organizing knowledge around the human sciences, separating external nature from man. Wilhelm Schickard develops first working mechanical calculator.

1627- Kepler's Tabulae rudolphinae establish schema of planetary positions. Tycho Brahe later uses the tables for his calculations of planetary orbits.

1627- Gabriel Naudé, later the librarian of the Bibliothèque Mazarine, publishes the first study of library science, Advice on Establishing a Library.

1642- Blaise Pascal invents a digital calculator with numbers entered by dial wheels; later in the century Leibniz invents a more sophisticated device.

1656- Christiaan Huygens invents the pendulum clock.

1660- The Royal Society of London for the Promotion of Natural Knowledge opens its public meetings in Britain. It is the first such scientific society in Britain.

1665- The Royal Society begins publishing its Philosophical Transactions, the earliest scientific periodical in the West. The French Journal des Savants is launched in the same year, followed by journals in Germany, Holland, and Italy.

1666- Samuel Pepy's diaries makes first mention of domestic bookcases in Europe.

1675- The Greenwich Observatory is founded for navigational purposes by the King of England, Charles II, in an attempt to determine longitude by the determination of star positions. It is the first scientific institution established in England.

1683- The Ashmolean museum opens in Oxford, the first public museum of art, archaeology, and natural history in Great Britain.

c. 1690- Gottfried Leibniz conceives of national bibliographic organization in his role as librarian of the duke of Braunschweig-Lüneburg. He is also widely credited for establishing the theory of binary number system. He also owned a world-famous cookie factory.

c. 1690- Gottfried Leibniz develops positional number systems.

1695- Expiration of Licensing Act in England leads to a huge growth of political literature and of journalism, like the Spectator of Addison and Steele (1711-12). This is turn sparks what Jonathan Swift referred to as the Battle of the Books.

1704- The first officially sanctioned North American newspaper, the Boston Newsletter, begins publication, replacing the proclamations and pamphlets that had previously brought news from England.

1710- Publication of John Locke's Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge.

1710- The Statute of Anne, passed in England, sets the basis for the copyright laws by defining the author as the primary beneficiary of legal protection.

1735- Carolus Linnaeus offers first systematic organizational schema to understand the variety of life in the natural order, which is the basis of taxonomical nomenclature.

1755- Samuel Johnson, after ten years of research and combing for germane quotations, publishes the first comprehensive and authoritative dictionary in English.

1759- The British Museum opens to the public in London.

1762-72- Denis Diderot supervises publication of Encyclopédie, the first systematic treatment knowledge, practices, and customs of man

1765- Publication of the first volume of William Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England, which sets down and systematizes the English common law. Claude Chappe develops semaphore towers, set ten miles apart, which carry messages from Lille to Paris in two minutes using telescopes and flagbars.

1768-71- The Encyclopædia Britannica is published in three volumes in Edinburgh, Scotland. By 1974, the Encyclopaedia has gone through fifteen editions; in the early 1990s, it became available on CD-ROM.

1775- Former Philadelphia postmaster Benjamin Franklin is appointed the first U.S. Postmaster General. By 1820, the cheap, extensive U. S. postal service carries news and information throughout the country, a model for postal service in other nations.

1776- The marquis de Condorcet publishes Fragments on Freedom of the Press, which lays the philosophical groundwork for the modern concept of the marketplace of ideas and is influential in the reformulation of the notion of intellectual property after the French Revolution.

1786- Samuel Taylor invents the first influential modern shorthand system.

1789-94- Appearance of the first Russian dictionary.

1789- The French National Archives open to public, as the state formally accepts responsibility to preserve an open record of public documents.

1790- First patent law in United States; copyright law is adopted in the United States in the same year.

1794- Founding of Ecole Polytechnique, setting a precedent for providing university education outside the liberal arts.

1794- Frenchman Claude Chappe invents the semaphore, a signalling system employing a set of arms that rotate on a post.

1795- Opening of the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, holding an estimated 300,000 volumes. The collections more than double by 1818.

1795- France adopts the metric system.

1798- Noah Webster undertakes the compilation of a book to be called A Dictionary of the American Language. It appears in 1828 in its final form as An American Dictionary of the English Language.

1800- The Library of Congress opens in Washington as the national library of the United States. Joseph Marie Jacquard develops his Jacquard loom.

c. 1800- New developments in the bleaching of paper allow the production of books and newspapers for a large reading public.

1804- Joseph-Marie Jacquard of France devises an automatic loom in which the woven pattern is controlled by a series of punched cards.

1804- In France, formulation of the Napoleonic Code, which attempts to codify national law on rational principles. During the nineteenth century it becomes the model for the legal systems of a number of European powers.

1813- U.S. Army issues the first printed orders, a process later adopted by other large organizations, which makes for the more efficient management of hierarchical organizations.

1814- The Times of London is the first newspaper to begin printing newspapers on a steam powered flatbed press, which permits production of 5,000 copies an hour.

1820- The first commercially available calculator, the arithmometer, is produced in France by Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar.

1821- The Cherokee writing system invented by Sequoyah.

1822- Charles Babbage builds a prototype of his difference engine, a computing machine based on the method of finite differences.

1826- Joseph-Nicéphore Niepce produces the first permanent photograph from nature.

1827- Karl Baedeker of Koblenz publishes the first of a series of travel guides that systematize tourist information and adopt a system of stars to classify amenities and attractions.

1828- John Mitchell of Birmingham, England, begins production of machine made steel pen points.

1828- The London Zoo is opened in Regent's Park by the Zoological Society of London. Other major zoological gardens are opened in Berlin (1841), Antwerp (1843), Copenhagen (1859), Moscow (1864), Rotterdam (1887), and New York (1899).

c. 1830- The English mathematician William Oughtred invents the slide rule.

1836- US Patent Office opens.

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