See also :Chronology of Communication after electronics to
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
3100 B.C.- Earliest cuneiform
markings representing words in Sumer, first
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
c. 3000 B.C.- In Egypt
, the earliest instances of hieroglyphic
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
c. 2500 B.C.- Ink
is in use in both Egypt
c. 1800 B.C.- Earliest known samples of Chinese
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
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
, probably ancestor of Greek
alphabet and 22-letter
c. 1000 B.C.- First recorded use of pen
by Chinese calligraphers.
c 750 B.C.- Development of Brahmin
, the ancestor of modern Indian
c. 750 B.C.- Earliest examples of Greek
writing, based on Phoenician
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
c. 660 B.C.- Archive
are organized by King Ashurbanipal
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
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
, 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
280 B.C.- Museum in Alexandria
founded by Ptolemy
I. Its first librarian, Zenodotus
Ephesus, provides the basis for modern textual criticism
by making the first critical edition
from the manuscripts
it holds. The Great Library of Alexandria
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
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
; it marks the first diffusion of public news.
c. 90- Quintilian
elaborates principles for rhetorical education
structure and the principles of rhetorical argument in
105- The Chinese develop a process for making paper
, which reaches
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
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
c. 350 - Development of Ethiopic script, originally used for Ge'ez, still
used as a liturgical language in Ethiopia
c. 350- Codex Sinaiticus
, the oldest known Greek bound volume
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
c. 550- Chinese develop block book printing
, carving the proofs for pages
c. 550- The astrolabe
is developed, reaching Europe
from the Islamic
world, and proves among the most versatile and important medieval
founds a monastery
and establishes a scriptorium
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
C. 620- Wei Cheng
writes the bibliographic section of the official Sui
History, dividing the books into four categories: Confucian
classics, historical records, philosophical writings, and miscellaneous
c. 630- First specific reference made to a quill pen, in the writings of
c. 700- Xylography
, or wood engraving, is widespread in China.
712- The Kojiki is the first extensive document using Chinese
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
, 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
868- In China
, the first printed book
, the Buddhist Diamond Sutra
produced using carved blocks of wood. It includes a woodcut title page
and numerous images.
ca 1000- Talmudic
academies in Babylon
Masoretic text, an authentic text of the Old Testament
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
c. 1050- The translations of Arabic
works lead to the introduction in Europe of the system of
, 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
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
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
c. 1190- The magnetic compass
is in use in China
c. 1200- The Inca
are using the quipu, an elaborate accounting
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
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
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
, 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
, 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
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
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
c. 1430- First metallographic printing
begins in [Holland and Rhineland
encouraging results obtained with large type demonstrate the validity of the idea of
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
whose letter shapes are based on phonetic properties of sounds.
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
produces the first printed bibles.
1463- The first printed title page
is used on a papal bull
1489- The first printed plus
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
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
1537- Albrecht Durer
publishes a manual that deals with the instruction and
analysis of perspective
illustrations, a book with immense
influence on European cartographers.
1543- Andreas Vesalius publishes the first illustrated systematic
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
with other books of this type, it reflects an increase in literacy
among a broad range of
1555- Conrad Gesner
, Swiss naturalist, completes his Bibliotheca
, a classification of all past and present writers.
1564- First catalogues of Frankfurt
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
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
1586- William Camden's Britannia publishes first comprehensive topographical
survey of all
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
. Why we don't still have titles this good, who can say?
1608- The Dutch lens grinder Hans Lippershey applies for a patent
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
, 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
man. Wilhelm Schickard develops first working mechanical calculator.
's Tabulae rudolphinae
establish schema of planetary positions. Tycho
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
1656- Christiaan Huygens invents the pendulum
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
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
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
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
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
1710- The Statute of Anne, passed in England, sets the basis for the
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.