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How the World Was One

Arthur C. Clarke

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Prose: non-fiction, Science fiction

Arthur C. Clarke has been one of the most influential commentators on - and prophets of - the communications technology which has created the global village. Now, drawing partly on his own sometimes very personal writings, he provides an absorbing history and survey of modern communications.

The story begins with the titanic struggles to lay transatlantic telegraph cables in the nineteenth century. Fighting against widespread scepticism, lack of funds, technical disasters and setbacks - and against the Atlantic itself, above and below the surface - the pioneers achieved the seemingly impossible and by 1858 Britain and America were linked by Telegraph.

Nearly a century later, as the first transatlantic telephone cable was being laid, the technology that would rival and perhaps even supersede it was undergoing its painful birth as scientists developed the communications satellite precisely as Clarke first described in his famous 1945 article Wireless World, 'Extra-terrestrial Relays', reprinted in this book.

The rivalry between cable and satellite continued through the decades. Communication satellites (Comsats) performed even beyond the most optimistic expectations, but cable fought back with the development of the transistor. Then, in one of the most dramatic and unexpected breakthroughs in any technology, the potential of cable systems was transformed.

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Arthur C. Clarke

Arthur C. Clarke was born in Minehead in 1917. During the Second World War he served as an RAF radar instructor, rising to the rank of Flight-Lieutenant. After the war he won a Bsc in physics and mathematics with first class honours from King's College, London.One of the most respected of all science-fiction writers, he also won Kalinga Prize, the Aviation Space-Writers' Prize and the Westinghouse Science Writing Prize. He also shared an Oscar nomination with Stanley Kubrick for the screenplay of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, which was based on his story, 'The Sentinel'. He lived in Sri Lanka from 1956 until his death in 2008.

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