The Cable That Linked The World


– [Narrator] You know that
frustrating feeling when a message takes more than
a few seconds to send? Well, it’s hard to imagine today, but before the mid-19th century, sending news across the ocean could take weeks to arrive. Then, thanks to an incredible, yet mostly forgotten
technological achievement, that gap was shrunk from weeks to seconds. A feat that kicked off the global age of instant communication that
we take for granted today. For most of human history, the only way to send a
message across a long distance was to have it delivered in person. Which was limited by how
fast someone could travel. The invention of the electric telegraph in the 1830s sparked a revolution. It allowed messages to be sent across wires as electrical pulses which could be translated into letters and words. Within a decade of its invention, thousands of miles of
telegraph cables were installed between major cities
worldwide linking governments, businesses, individuals, and the press. But there was still an
enormous, daunting gap. How to send a signal thousands of miles across the vast Atlantic Ocean linking Europe and the Americas? In 1854, an ambitious,
wealthy young American entrepreneur named Cyrus West Field was presented with a business opportunity, to connect a telegraph
cable from New York City to Newfoundland which
would shorten the arrival of news by ship from
abroad by a day or two. Field pushed the idea even further. What if the line could be extended all the way to Ireland, and then unto London which at the time was the hub of the global economy? Sensing that his project could
change the course of history, Field was undaunted by
the immense challenge. He raised money from a
wide network of investors, including the British
and American governments, which also provided the necessary ships for laying the cable in exchange for top priority communication rights on the future telegraph line. Field also recruited some of the top engineers and scientists of his time to develop a cable durable enough to carry a signal thousands of
miles across the ocean floor. Laying out the actual
cable by steamer ship in the rough waters of the North Atlantic was no easy feat either, and in fact, the first two attempts failed when the cable snapped and sunk in the journey wasting investor money, dashing hopes, and causing widespread public
mockery of the project. Some of the criticisms were philosophical and eerily relevant today. Would instant access to information really makes us any happier or better off? Nevertheless, in August 1858, after over a year of disappointments, the two massive cable-laying ships successfully reached their destinations in Newfoundland and Ireland. Completing the connection that Field and others had prophesied. Once the line had been tested, an official message of goodwill was exchanged between Queen Victoria and U.S. President James Buchanan. Public celebrations erupted in sieges throughout the U.S. and
Europe marking the dawn of a new era of unification between the Old World and the new. It’s hard to overstate how influential the so-called Electric Union was to the rapidly globalizing
world of the 19th century. It meant that everything from stock and commodity prices, to a
declaration of war or peace could now be shared immediately. It’s no surprise that
Field’s accomplishment was widely heralded at
the time as the greatest human achievement in history, and Field himself became
an international hero. Although the first cable only functioned for a few months before going dead, it proved that a link was indeed possible. Within a decade, more reliable and sophisticated undersea cables were laid
by Field and many others. Throughout the 20th century,
cable networks expanded, and technology continued to evolve as telephones eventually
replaced telegraphs, and the digital data eventually
replaced analog signals. While the original
Transatlantic cable could only transmit a few
words per minute at best, today’s fiber optic
cables deliver hundreds of terabytes of data in just seconds, and there are a lot of them, stretching close to
750,000 miles in total, and more cable was laid
in 2018 than any year in almost two decades. Instead of brave entrepreneurs, now most new cables are being
laid by the tech giants, such as Amazon, Facebook,
Google, and Microsoft, which collectively own or lease more than half of the undersea bandwidth. And although it seems that we live in a mostly wireless world, undersea cable still carry 99% of data traffic that crosses the oceans. So the next time you chat with someone on the other side of the world, keep in mind that it all
started over 150 years ago by a visionary entrepreneur and his team, pulling off what was once
called the greatest work that the genius of man ever contemplated.

100 thoughts on “The Cable That Linked The World

  1. Here i am in Mississippi and cant get reliable cell phone service or internet. Yall got that shit connected from rhode island to england but 4 miles from the main road is too long for att to run a line. Lol.

  2. This is entirely misleading. The real cable crossed the Pacific Ocean from British Columbia to Australia, and in fact made the tiny BC town a WWII target.

  3. I'm in Australia, so you are saying that the pornhub and xvideos are coming all the way from US and EU through a cable in the sea?

  4. 1:32 At the time London was the capital of the rapers, childabusers, mollesters, pedophiles, robbers, landthefts, colonizations, slavery, murderers and became the hub of the global economy on the backs of all those victims. Thats the correct way to say it.

  5. It's crazy how that was a huge deal know imagine 100 – 200 years from know they'll look back on 4g LTE. I wound what will the future hold

  6. 1860s: "How will its uses (of the Ocean telegraph) add to the happiness of mankind? Has the land telegraph done any good? Has it banishes any evil, mitigated any sorrow?"
    1960s: "How will landing on the moon make our lives any better?"
    1990s: "How will CERN make our lives any better?
    Nowadays: "How will landing on Mars make our lives any better?"

    In conclusion: Idiots always existed, and always will exist.

  7. Aren’t text messages (and ALL cellphone communication for that matter) transmitted via cell tower via satellite?

  8. Crazy and cool. Now, probably the greatest thing humans have ever done is land on the moon, build an AI, invent reusable rockets, or even Bitcoin, but all of those owe it to this invention. Spreading information faster immensely helps foster innovation and growth. Can't wait to see what else the future holds.

  9. It's also a shame to see people even back then criticizing risk taking and progress. It would be interesting to see or look at how odd and rare risk taking is in the natural world. I guess on its own, the cable didn't do any "real" benefit to humanity. Maybe it's more normal and natural to be content with what you need and not expand as much? Breakthroughs in tech only came from one person or so, and the rest of humanity copied them.

  10. I'm sure I"m not the first person who says this but it's New Found Land not New-Finlind.

    Personally I wish we went with the name Vinland. The name that the Vikings used.

  11. Through capitalism the world literally is united. Funny how incentives and money aids in invention. (Here come the socialist defenders 😂)

  12. Imagine trying to sext before the telegraph. What if the mailman was a dick and opened your package?

  13. I'm more interested in "when" the world unite because of the ever tightening imaginary cable around people's neck, that forces us to work for the rich just so we could feed ourselves.

  14. Cables under the ocean a standard even today? You kidding me? That's just nonsense. Have you ever heard of wireless connection? Maybe no.

  15. Dear Americans, the UK is an Island off the coast of Europe, not an island in it. We are different. We wouldnt call someone from buffalo a Canadian.

  16. When all the fossil energies are exhausted, we will go back to the old times and it will take weeks to send news again.

  17. When the Titanic sank the debris fell on & around these underground telegraph cables. It was mentioned in a lecture video on the titanic debris feild.

  18. 99% of all international communications are handled by underwater cables.
    We’ve been lies to about satellites.

  19. What for cables if are satellites there? 22 000 of it where and just 4 of for saving people life? You must be total not to take that bullshit

  20. This is not a secret they hide yet most of the world don't know they exist, imagine what they can hide if they tried.

  21. WHAT???
    This was actually done??
    How?? So many sea creatures, uneven ocean floor with abiss and mountains!! How??

  22. Am I only one wondering what is the purpose of satellites if 99% of data goes by cable across the ocean? It doesnt make sense…

  23. when i was a kid, i use to think we use satellites to communicate with other people around the world, nope, were still using cables, lol

  24. I was surprised that 99% of current data is still transmitted by cable. You just assume, in today’s age, most is transmitted by satellite.

  25. Not true that the telegraph was the first method of communication over a distance. The ancient Greeks used heliographs and signal fires, native Americans used smoke signals, then there were signal flags, semaphore code, and Chappe's semaphore telegraph, to name a few. Granted, they couldn't make it across the Atlantic.

  26. The overall is perfect work, first is it ocean bed or floor? also some sentences are quite high quality, while the majority are modern low quality, the closeness between two continents do show the reason behind first travelers across the ocean. thanks

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