A timeline of Victorian media inventions


1829: Daguerre joins Niepce to pursue photographic inventions. Burt obtains the first US patent for a typewriter.

1832: The Phenakistoscope in Belgium and Stroboscope in Austria point to motion pictures. Meanwhile, inspired by Joseph-Marie Jacquard's automated loom, Charles Babbage of London produces a prototype segment of his difference engine. The complete engine would be room-sized. Its output digits would be punched into a soft metal plate, from which a plate for a printing press could be made. But due to various difficulties, no more than this prototype piece is ever assembled. After considerable cost overruns the project is abandoned a decade later. In Germany, Baron Pawal Schilling demonstrates an electric telegraph - using electromagnets to attract an iron needle - to Czar Nicholas in Berlin. But he dies before managing to develop it further.

1834: Babbage conceives the analytical engine, later regarded as a forerunner of the computer (though a "stored-program" concept is absent from its design). There would be several punch card readers, for both programs and data. The machine would do an addition in three seconds and a multiplication or division in two to four minutes.

1837: The partnership of William Cooke and leading physicist Charles Wheatstone (he of "Wheatstone bridge" fame) patent their electric telegraph and run trials of it between Euston and Camden railway stations in London. Using different combinations of switches, any one of 20 letters could be transmitted (they had to omit J, C, Q, U, X and Z). Meanwhile, Samuel Morse exhibits his electric telegraph in the US, using his simplified code which still bears his name.

1838: DaguerreNiepce method begins photography craze.

1839: Fox Talbot prints photographs from negatives.

1841: The first type-composing machine is used in London.

1842: Morse lays an underwater cable from Castle Garden to Governor's Island in New York Harbour. But souvenir hunters cut the hand-made cable and rob 200 feet, destroying the project.

1843: Ada, Lady Lovelace, publishes her lengthy dissertation on computers, Sketch Of The Analytical Engine. The daughter of Byron, she describes herself as "the High Priestess of Babbage's Engine", and she makes the analogy between the Analytical Engine's proposed card storage for information - what today we would call its software - and the card hopper of a programmable Jacquard loom: "We may say most aptly that the Analytical Engine weaves algebraical patterns just as the Jacquard loom weaves flowers and leaves."

1849: The photographic slide.

1851: In England, Talbot takes a flash photograph at 1/100,000 second exposure.

1854: Bourseul in France builds an experimental telephone. In Cork, George Boole publishes The Mathematical Analysis of Logic, using the binary system now known as Boolean algebra. It will become the basis of how computer programs make decisions.

1857: Cott's phonautograph, a forerunner of Edison's phonograph.

1858: The first Atlantic cable is established, between Valentia in Co Kerry and Hearts Content in Newfoundland in Canada. It spans 3,782 kilometres (2,350 miles), and brings almost instantaneous transatlantic communications for the first time. Well, not quite instantaneous: a short telegram from Queen Victoria to President Buchanan takes over 16 hours to transmit. The cable is a landmark event but a technical failure, remaining in service for just a fortnight. Subsequent cables laid in 1866 are completely successful.

1871: Halftone process allows newspaper printing of pictures.

1873: Maxwell publishes his theory of radio waves.

1873: The typewriter's QWERTY keyboard.

1876: Bell invents the telephone.

1877: Charles Cros invents the phonograph in France, Edison invents it in the US.

1878: Muybridge photographs a horse in motion.

1880: Edison invents the electric light.

1885: The linotype machine is invented, automating the labourintensive process used by printers since Gutenberg.

1887: Celluloid film, which will replace glass plate photography.

1888: The cheap, easy-to-use Kodak box camera heralds the dawn of photography as a mass medium in industrialised countries. Heinrich Hertz proves the existence of radio waves.

1889: Strowger, a Kansas City undertaker, invents the automatic telephone exchange.

1890: In England, Friese-Greene builds the kinematograph camera and projector.

1891: Edison's assistant, Dickson, builds the Kinetograph motion picture camera.

1894: Marconi invents wireless telegraphy. Berliner's flat phonograph disc competes with the cylinder.

1895: The Lumiere brothers build a portable movie camera, and Paris audiences see movies projected.

1896: X-ray photography.

1899: Poulsen of Denmark records sound magnetically.

1900: By the turn of the century not only phonographs but also Edison's kinetoscopes (able to show moving pictures on film, up to 90 seconds long) are in coin-operated arcades.

1901: Marconi sends a radio signal across the Atlantic. . .