The Chronology of New Media: Before The 20th Century

By | January 7, 2000

c. 3000 B.C.

  • Chinese entertainers use firelight to project silhouettes of puppets onto a screen. Fundamentally, movies and video representations throughout all future technologies rely on this same principle: casting light onto a flat surface to communicate visually.


  • Egyptian astronomer Ptolemy proves the phenomena of rapidly moving still pictures appearing as one moving image. This idea had originally been conceived by the Roman poet Lucretius in 65 B.C.


  • Caliph Haroun-el-Raschid employs Chinese workmen to found a paper factory in Baghdad.

c. 1450

  • Johann Gutenberg invents movable type, allowing mass production of documents.


  • England’s Parliament formally concedes the right of journalists to cover its proceedings.


  • Americans spread the cause of the revolution by distributing printed copies of the Declaration of Independence and Thomas Paine’s Common Sense.


  • The First Amendment of the United State Constitution guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of the press.


  • Charles Babbage designs the first automatic digital computer, the Analytical Engine. (A working model is not built until 1991.)


  • Samuel Morse debuts the telegraph, connecting Philadelphia and Washington D.C. and revolutionizing long-distance communication.


  • Six U.S. newspapers pool their resources to establish The Associated Press. The partnership is designed to defray the costs of sending news via telegraph.


  • North America and Europe are temporarily linked by transatlantic telegraph cable, but the connection is not permanent until 1866.


  • Despite objections from Western Union, The Associated Press leases its own telegraph line from New York to Washington, D.C.


  • Alexander Graham Bell invents the telephone.


  • Thomas Ava Edison invents the Phonograph. Two years later he invents the light bulb.


  • While tabulating the 1880 U.S. census, statistician Herman Hollerith invents an electro-mechanical machine that reads holes in perforated cards.


  • Fusajiro Yamauchi begins manufacturing “Hanafuda” playing cards in Kyoto, Japan. Over the next four generations, the Yamauchi family business will evolve from playing cards into electronic games, becoming the modern Nintendo Company Ltd.


  • Herman Hollerith founds the Tabulating Machine Company, which later becomes International Business Machines Corporation (IBM).