October 24, 2011 marked the 150th anniversary of the transcontinental telegraph. The completion of the line meant that for the first time in history people could communicate and information could be transmitted instantly over thousands of miles. The telegraph changed the way the world did business and how people interacted with each other. Criminals who'd hopped the first train out of town could now be caught by wiring the police at the next stop. The way the stock market worked changed as brokers, investors and bankers all had access to real time market updates. News that used to take weeks to cross the country, or the oceans was now available as fast a telegraph operator could tap it out.
On the heels of the business, news and law enforcement employment of the telegraph came the social use of such quick communication. The first "chat rooms" sprang up between different telegraph offices, and the operators forged lifelong long distance friendships. Many of the operators manning the more rural stations were women. They also communicated with other operators and sometimes they fell in love. One or two even got married "on-line" and novels were written about love on the wires.
So, if you're near a computer this week or updating your Facebook page, take a moment to stop and think about the pioneers who created the first social network. I hope to see you Friday! In the meantime, visit my website and check out my books www.Georgie-Lee,com