History of Human Communication: Summary and Characteristics

We explain and summarize the history of human communication and the means that exist. Also, its characteristics and timeline.

History of human communication

The history of human communication is the very long journey that unites the first social manifestations of our species , through which an individual and another could transmit their intentions and perhaps agree, to the sophisticated forms of communication that we have in the society postindustrial.

Human communication is a complex and broad category, which includes numerous forms of information exchange and many possible languages , verbal or not, and through different channels.

Although the communication of a fact that the human being shares with all forms of life, the capacity of language is unique and exclusive to humanity . It is possible thanks to human intellectual capacity , which reaches the levels of abstraction necessary to create, interpret and learn new languages, or deduce the formulas on which they are based.

Origin of human communication

Human communication was born with the human being himself , since it is one of his natural capacities. There is no milestone or a date on which we can mark the beginning of the communication of our species, but we can trace a path of the technologies created by it to allow or facilitate the communicative event, as we will see later.

The first of all forms of human communication is language . It is estimated that human verbal communication began with the appearance of Homo sapiens about 2.5 million years ago. According to some specialists, it was a determining factor in its proliferation and dominance over other forms of hominins of the time.

For example, the Homo neanderthalensis also had linguistic and communication skills , but much less efficient than ours. This may seem superfluous, but it translates into a higher level of organization than in situations such as war or hunting, would result in a very noticeable advantage for humanity.

Non-verbal communication

Non-verbal communication Non-verbal communication is also helpful with other species.

It should be clarified, before proceeding, that human language and voice is not the only communication mechanism available to primitive man . On the contrary, it had important and diverse levels of non-verbal communication, that is, not involved in the word, which we are also capable of using.

Gestural communication, the most instinctive communication, which involves the body and which is handled at much more basic levels , is also an effective way of transmitting messages to our fellow human beings, and even to other species, as happens when we make gestures to a person. dog .

Human voice

The first form of communication in human history was the voice , that is, the language articulated through our speech system : lungs, throat, vocal cords, larynx, mouth, tongue, lips, teeth. Any position at the service of emitting a chain of sounds in a continuous, organized and coherent way, according to the rules dictated by a language (or language ).

The human voice is our regular channel of communication , the most common and most used, whether live and direct, or through instruments invented to magnify it, such as megaphones, microphones, etc. In primitive times, the transmission of knowledge depended on it, since everything passed from one generation to another orally and was stored in memory.

Due to this use it originated from rhyme, for example: a memorization technique based on the similarity of sound . The disadvantage of this method lies in the imperfection of human memory and in the fact that the death of an old man or a wise man from the community could mean the loss of much important information forever.


As a method to solve the inconvenience of the absence of the sender of a message, and to make the latter last over time, a system of symbols of various kinds was invented which, once deciphered, could always transmit the same message: writing . Several types of writing are recognized:

  • Pictograms. These are signs that represent observable reality, that is, drawings, illustrations of some kind, but organized in a finite series of possibilities that give them a certain sense and order, that is, a certain logic and syntax. This type of proto-writing was used by various cultures in the world from 9000 BC. C. and it became very popular between 5000 and 6000 a. C. Examples of this are the Egyptian hieroglyphs or the Mayan codices .
  • Ideograms. The evolution of the pictogram consists of graphic symbols that represent specific ideas , and whose combinations allow the construction of more complex meanings. In fact, its conceptual boundaries are wide, so that the same symbol could represent, for example, by means of the same drawing “legs”, “walking” or “going”. This is the case for Chinese and Japanese kanji.
  • Alphabet. Alphabetic writing is the most abstract degree of writing known, which instead of images or ideas, reproduces sounds through signs, which have no relationship with their referents, except that assigned to them by a collective convention. Thus, the sign “A” represents a specific sound, but there is no reason why that sign and not another was chosen to represent said sound. The first alphabet was that of the Phoenicians , around 1000 BC. C.

The mail

The mail Each country began to develop its mail service.

The exchange of written texts on paper and other physical supports made of vegetable fiber gave rise to systems for sending and receiving letters and parcels  in different countries, known as printed couriers.

Communications using this system could be long awaited, although after the invention of the steam engine, it was much easier to carry more letters and faster to their recipients. This model was replaced at the end of the 20th century with the e-mail or electronic mail .

Printed communication

The invention of the Gutenberg printing press in the 15th century revolutionized the way of making writings and books, which until then was manual. The only exception were certain stamps and stamps that were used, for example, during the Roman Empire .

This new invention gave rise to the possibility of using metallic plates sprayed with pigments to successively ink many identical pages and mass-produce a book. It also allowed the first massive periodicals to emerge, which could be distributed among citizens by the hundreds or thousands.

Along with the later invention of lithography and other similar techniques, with the printing press came a market for massive publications , and for companies dedicated to information in writing, later on, which were the first newspapers and magazines.

To this day, modern versions of the printing press circulate many more publications of all kinds than ever before in human history . It is perhaps the most effective written communication method in history .


Telecommunications Radio waves allowed the creation of radio, telephone and television.

The technological advances of the Industrial Revolution opened a new spectrum in the capture and reproduction of images, moving images and sounds . In addition, its transmission through cables and then Hertzian waves, that is, electromagnetic waves, became possible.

Thus, from the 19th century on, humanity began to flood the electromagnetic spectrum little by little with radio waves, that is, electromagnetic waves of a spectrum other than visible light , to send and receive information.

Thanks to this revolutionary advancement , impressive communication inventions of the 19th and 20th centuries emerged : the telegraph, the telephone , radio , television , even radar and microwaves. Through these technologies, communication was possible much faster and over much greater distances than ever in its history.

Information technologies

Information technologies Technology allows us to communicate in real time over long distances.

The Digital Revolution at the end of the 20th century also brought important changes in human communication. The computers are machines capable of receiving, storing or transmitting information volumes much larger and much higher speeds than any previous invention of the human being.

The connection of computers in increasingly wide networks, until reaching the World Wide Web ( Internet ), allowed to send multimedia messages in real time ; teleconferences, video recordings, chats, e-mails or SMS, also available on cell phones and other portable devices. It was a gigantic change in the way of communicating thus far.

Future of human communication

The communication of the human species is unpredictable. However, among the futuristic fantasies of humanity, the possibility of teleportation or messages sent directly to the mind of the other (telepathy) are included.

Timeline of human communication

  • 200,000 BC C. - Estimation of the birth of human voice communication.
  • 50,000 a. C. - First cave paintings in prehistoric caves.
  • 3250 BC C. - The Egyptian hieroglyphic writing is born.
  • 1050 BC C . - The first alphabet, the Phoenician, arises.
  • 900 a. C . - The first postal service in China is created , for bureaucratic purposes.
  • 305 d. C . - The Chinese invent a method of printing symbols using wooden plates .
  • 1440 - Gutemberg invents the printing press.
  • 1814 - Niepce takes the first photographs in history.
  • 1876 - Graham Bell patents the first telephone model.
  • 1920 - Radio appears and becomes popular.
  • 1927 - The BBC in London begins its TV programming.
  • 1962 - The US launches the first telecommunications satellite , Telstar I.
  • 1994 - The Internet is released to the general public.

The above content published at Collaborative Research Group is for informational and educational purposes only and has been developed by referring to reliable sources and recommendations from technology experts. We do not have any contact with official entities nor do we intend to replace the information that they emit.

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