at the satellite communication facility in Raisting, Bavaria, Germany
Visualization from the Opte Project
of the various routes through a portion of the Internet
Telecommunication is the transmission of signs, signals, messages, words, writings, images and sounds or information of any nature by wire, radio, optical or other electromagnetic systems.Telecommunication occurs when the exchange of information between communication participants includes the use of technology. It is transmitted through a transmission media, such as over physical media, for example, over electrical cable, or via electromagnetic radiation through space such as radio or light. Such transmission paths are often divided into communication channels which afford the advantages of multiplexing. Since the Latin term communicatio is considered the social process of information exchange, the term telecommunications is often used in its plural form because it involves many different technologies.
Early means of communicating over a distance included visual signals, such as beacons, smoke signals, semaphore telegraphs, signal flags and optical heliographs. Other examples of pre-modern long-distance communication included audio messages such as coded drumbeats, lung-blown horns, and loud whistles. 20th- and 21st-century technologies for long-distance communication usually involve electrical and electromagnetic technologies, such as telegraph, telephone, and teleprinter, networks, radio, microwave transmission, fiber optics, and communications satellites.
A revolution in wireless communication began in the first decade of the 20th century with the pioneering developments in radio communications by Guglielmo Marconi, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1909, and other notable pioneering inventors and developers in the field of electrical and electronic telecommunications. These included Charles Wheatstone and Samuel Morse (inventors of the telegraph), Alexander Graham Bell (inventor of the telephone), Edwin Armstrong and Lee de Forest (inventors of radio), as well as Vladimir K. Zworykin, John Logie Baird and Philo Farnsworth (some of the inventors of television).
The word telecommunication is a compound of the Greek prefix tele (τηλε), meaning distant, far off, or afar, and the Latin communicare, meaning to share. Its modern use is adapted from the French, because its written use was recorded in 1904 by the French engineer and novelist Édouard Estaunié. Communication was first used as an English word in the late 14th century. It comes from Old French comunicacion (14c., Modern French communication), from Latin communicationem (nominative communicatio), noun of action from past participle stem of communicare "to share, divide out; communicate, impart, inform; join, unite, participate in", literally "to make common", from communis".