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Journal Article (Refereed)
May 2013

The Archaeology of Communications' Digital Age

Linge, N 2013, 'The Archaeology of Communications' Digital Age', Industrial Archaeology Review, 35(1), pp.44-63.


This paper reviews the history of the digital age of communications that began with the invention of the stored program computer in 1948 and is today realised by the World Wide Web, super fast broadband and the smart phone. Taking a predominantly UK focus, the paper examines the key technological advances that were made, where they occurred and what archaeological evidence remains of their existence. The paper begins by examining how digital technology was applied to the telephone network, how that network then provided the means by which early computers could be connected together, and from there to subsequently offer access to information services. Packet switching, the home computer, modems, optical fibre and the Internet are reviewed in terms of their importance in the creation of and growth in the World Wide Web. Finally, the application of digital technology to the mobile phone is discussed in terms of the development of mobile networks and the evolution of the handset into today’s smart phones. The paper concludes by recognising that much of the archaeological evidence of communication’s digital age has already been lost and that urgent action is needed to put in place appropriate preservation strategies.


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Publication Details

Journal Name
Industrial Archaeology Review