Some communication is up close and personal—such as when you’re talking face to face with someone. However, it is possible to “speak” to somebody who is far away (sometimes right across the world). This “distance communication” is called telecommunications.
Today, there are many gadgets and mediums by which people can exchange ideas even if they are not physically together. You can call someone by mobile phone, or send an SMS. You can send an email or a fax, or chat through Internet services like Skype or Yahoo Messenger. Mass mediums such as radio and television are also considered part of the telecommunication industry. Imagine, a talk show host can speak to millions of people in real time—making a real impact on total strangers.
However, telecommunications has been around long before. The American Indians would use smoke signals (simply by smothering fire with a blanket) to send very short messages to tribes far, far away. Then there was Morse Code, or even the special arrangement of flags on a ship or the flash of signal lamps. Even today, two teenagers can turn their light switch on and off in a pre-agreed signal, to tell friends waiting down on the street: “It’s safe to sneak up! Use the back door!”
People have been quite creative and igenious about using existing tools to send messages. They have also put a great deal of research and thought into improving tools, in order to make them more powerful, more efficient, and more accurate. IN the 20th century, telecommunications reached (literally) new heights—as high, in fact, as beyond the sky. The space shuttle Voyager 2 sent photos of Neptune, covering an astounding distance of nearly 5 billion kilometers.