Human Communication Origins (03:11)
Obsidian stores at Catal Huyuk in Turkey show tools were produced for long distance earlier than previously believed. Writing was developed to record transactions and transmit long distance messages.
Inventing the Printing Press (01:50)
In 1439, Johannes Gutenberg developed the moveable type system, increasing literature accessibility and starting the journey towards mass communication.
Ocean Travel (02:44)
Boats were the only long distance transport for centuries. Sailors in the remote Marquesas Islands use traditional navigational skills similar to those of the Phoenicians, the first trading empire.
Atlantic Triangle (02:57)
Early maps were distorted and misleading. Columbus concluded it would be faster to sail west to reach Asia but landed in the Caribbean. He established future transatlantic shipping patterns by sailing north to catch trade winds back to Europe.
Engineering the Panama Canal (05:31)
In the 1850s, Ferdinand de Lesseps built the Suez Canal—setting the stage to link the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Construction challenges triggered French governmental collapse; learn how the U.S. overcame tropical diseases and engineering problems to finish in 1914.
Inventing the Bicycle (02:09)
After centuries of horse drawn transport, the safety bicycle was developed in 1885, providing a cheap vehicle for individual travel. Design has changed little since then.
Inventing the Steam Engine (02:51)
Steam power emerged in the 18th century. After Richard Trevithick pioneered the locomotive, the railway system provided high speed transportation and brought social and economic change—visible in station architecture.
India Railway Network (01:52)
Learn how steam engines linked remote communities with cities, facilitated the international tea trade, and promoted early tourism.
High Speed Trains (02:36)
20th century railways made recreational travel widely available; learn the historical origins of U.S. track width. Japan's maglev technology allows travel up to 500 km per hour.
Pioneering Automobile Transport (01:50)
Ford's mass produced 1908 Model T was affordable for many Americans. Learn how he revolutionized assembly line manufacturing.
Electric Car Technology (02:07)
Post-war American commercialism led to road expansion and middle class leisure culture. Learn how clean alternatives to the internal combustion engine are coming full circle.
Early Aviation Technology (03:40)
After hot air balloons, inventors worked on flying machines. In 1903, the Wright Brothers' success attracted military funding; learn about early passenger air travel and the Hindenburg Disaster.
Aviation Advances (03:37)
1960s jet engines increased power and reach, culminating in the supersonic Concorde model. Larger planes and cheap airlines made air travel universally accessible; military technology continues to improve.
Early Communication Technology (02:38)
Mail was slow until Samuel Morse invented the telegraph in 1838. The Atlantic cable allowed instant messages between Europe and America; learn how the telephone works.
Pioneering Mobile Communication (03:31)
Learn how Guglielmo Marconi developed long range radio wave messaging in the early 20th century, saving lives when the Titanic sank. The innovation led to radar, WiFi, mobile phones, and remote devices.
Mass Communication Era (02:05)
Broadcast radio brought news and entertainment into homes in the '20s, leading to television, satellite communication, and GPS technology.
Computer Technology Pioneers (01:54)
Charles Babbage invented the programmable computer in the 19th century. Learn how Alan Turing updated his design during World War II with an electronic digital computer to break enemy codes.
Computer Age (01:43)
Learn how computer models shrank and became ubiquitous as digital technology advanced.
Inventing the Internet (01:52)
Computer users began sharing data through phone line connections. Learn how Tim Berners-Lee developed the World Wide Web and universal HTTP computer language in the '80s.
Digital Age (03:14)
Learn social, economic and political impacts of the Internet. Communication has overcome time-space barriers but artificial intelligence may limit social contact. Technology shrinks the world and allows human lifestyles unimaginable 100 years ago.
Credits: Shrinking the World: Greatest Human Achievements (00:48)
Credits: Shrinking the World: Greatest Human Achievements
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