Photo Delivery Technology: Past, Present and Future

By James F. (Jim) Wieck

In a stark reminder of how rapidly technology has advanced in recent years, a friend recently passed along this video of new photo delivery technology via the wires circa 1937. We still use wires to communicate, but they now mostly are fiber optic rather than copper, and the speed with which an image (or any file) is disassembled on one end and then reassembled on the other is nothing short of fantastic. This video shows technology that the news industry relied on for more than 50 years. Our newer technology is, increasingly, more fleeting.

The facsimile technology touted in the video was still used by newspapers, magazines and broadcasters when Wieck launched operations in 1991. And it continued in use for several more years. Within two years of our launch, however, we had implemented a Bulletin Board System connecting users to digital databases where they could view thumbnails of various photos and download their selections. Transmission time was cut in half, or more, even though copper telephone lines still were in use.

But in less than 10 years, as fiber networks spread around the world, BBS methods already were outdated, websites became the norm, and file transfer time shrank to mere seconds.

As I read about experiments with nano technology and particle physics, I wonder how soon we’ll see the next great communications leap.

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