Parent Category: 18th Century History Articles
Category: Guest Authors
Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

 Anyone under the age of 30 probably can’t imagine a life without computers as they’ve grown up with them being always constant although they have evolved considerably over the past few years. Computers have created the illusion of the world feeling smaller because of the way they allow us to communicate in ways that we couldn’t before.

With technology like Skype, we can now be sat at home in the UK and have a face to face conversation with our cousin in Australia, even if is with a computer screen as the middle man. We can also compete in online video games on our custom built PC and challenge a number of players from all over the world in real time.

With technology as advanced as it is, it’s easy for us to take it for granted, but the fact of the matter is that it wasn’t always this easy to communicate with others. Residents of the 18th century could never have imagined the tech we have today at our disposal, even in their wildest dreams. Without travelling it would have been impossible to even have a conversation with somebody in the next town, let alone another country. Here we explore the main two ways people would have communicated with each other in the 18th century.


In a time before email and telephones, the only way to contact somebody long distance was by telegram. The usual method of telegrams was by writing a short message on a piece of paper and entrusting it with a messenger whose job was to travel the country and hand deliver messages. This would take a minimum of a few days, usually weeks as the only way to travel the country was by horse and cart. It wasn’t until the late 1700’s, during the French revolution, that the Chappe brothers managed to send a message a distance of over 9 miles by using by using a combination of black and white panels, clocks, telescopes, and codebooks. This then paved the way for the invention of the electrical telegraph in the 19th century.

Pigeon Post

The art of sending messages via pigeon is believed to date back over 2000 years to Roman times, and although they’re not really used for sending messages these days, a number of people still keep homing pigeons as a hobby. Pigeons would be trained over a period of time where their ‘home’ is, they’d then be transported to a destination in cages with short messages on scrolls wrapped around one of their legs, they’d be released into the sky and fly home to their owner. Elements of this concept were used in the Harry Potter books and films but the pigeons were replaced with owls.