Explain the history of written communication.

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The history of written communication is extremely complex, with many different kinds of writing arising in many different places.  Written communication has been used for a wide variety of purposes.  In the kind of space available here, we can only look at a very few high points in the history of written communication.

Written communication begins, so far as we know, around 5,000 years ago in Mesopotamia.  This is when the first known form of writing, cuneiform, arose.  At first, written communication was used for very practical purposes.  It was used to record and communicate things like inventories in storehouses and the amounts that various people owed in taxes.  From there, writing became more widespread and came to be used for more different purposes including, eventually, histories and literature.

A second major event in the history of written communication was the invention of the printing press that could use moveable type.  This occurred in the 1440s.  The invention of the printing press meant that written communications could be duplicated and disseminated much more easily.  It allowed authors to convey their ideas to many more people than was previously possible.

The last major event in the history of written communication has come within our lifetimes.  It is the rise in electronic written communications.  With the internet and other technology today, written communication can be distributed literally around the world in seconds.  This makes it possible for people to have access to much more information than ever before.