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Submission + - Email in the 18th century 2

morphovar writes: More than 200 years ago it was already possible to send messages throughout Europe and America at the speed of an aeroplane — wireless and without need for electricity. The optical telegraph network consisted of a chain of towers, each placed 5 to 20 kilometres apart from each other. Every tower had a telegrapher, looking through a telescope at the previous tower in the chain. If the semaphore on that tower was put into a certain position, the telegrapher copied that symbol on his own tower. A message could be transmitted from Amsterdam to Venice in one hour's time. A few years before, a messenger on a horse would have needed at least a month's time to do the same.
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Email in the 18th century

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  • Anyone who read Discworld novels knows that it also has optical telegraphs (called "clacks") and c-mail :)

    In reality, optical telegraphs were not very useful - they were slow, required a lot of men to man them and did not work in bad weather. So they were generally used to transmit military information (military never cares about costs).
  • Native American smoke signals date back to pre-Columbian times.

    Torches and and other forms of optical telegraphy date back to ancient times.

    Thanks to the seminal work of J. Hofmueller and his colleagues, modern semaphores can also be used to encapsulate IP datagrams []. Presumably, this is more efficient than delivering the same traffic by animal transport [] but less efficient than by wire or radio.

"The eleventh commandment was `Thou Shalt Compute' or `Thou Shalt Not Compute' -- I forget which." -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982