National Museum of American History
14th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW
1st Floor, West Wing, SI Libraries Gallery Floor Plan
Placing today's Internet in a historical context, this exhibition considers the technical and social issues associated with the creation of the international telegraph network. Cable connecting Britain and France was laid beneath the English Channel in 1851. By 1866 underwater cables laid in the North Atlantic permanently linked Europe and America, and by 1872 other cables reached India, Australia, China, and Japan. Information of all kinds was made available at the speed of electricity, changing forever the way we live. The exhibition follows the progress of international communications from that first link in 1851 up to 2001. Today the early copper wires are long gone; optical fibers make up the information highway of the 21st century.