In 'The Information' by James Gleick, the author explores how a costly toy came to transform our world.
The invention of the electric telegraph changed the speed at which information could be transmitted and there was a new sense of everyone around the world being interconnected. The New York Herald called it “a new species of consciousness”, while the New York Tribune described the landscape full of telegraph wires as “a net-work of nerves of iron wire, strung with lightning”. The parallels with the internet are many. “Some worried that the telegraph would be the death of newspapers,” James Gleick observes in this fascinating book, but “newspapers could not wait to put the new technology to work . . . The relationship between the telegraph and the newspaper was symbiotic.” Some newspapers even called themselves the Telegraph. But in time the telegraph would be eclipsed by the “electrical speaking telephone”. Nobody called their newspaper the Telephone.