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How the World Was One

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  151 ratings  ·  21 reviews
Clarke, the 50 million-copy bestselling science fiction visionary who wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey, addresses the rapid transformation of our society spurred by great leaps in communication technology. From submarine cables to fiber optics to neutrino and tachyon (faster than light) communications, he traces the global changes these innovations left or will leave in their w ...more
Hardcover, 296 pages
Published June 1st 1992 by Bantam
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Carmelo Medina
Mar 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Un excelente libro en el que se repasa toda la historia de las telecomunicaciones desde sus inicios. Está tan bien escrito y cuenta episodios tan poco conocidos que muchas veces parece una novela de aventuras, lo que añade más valor a la manera de hacer didáctica de Clarke. Incluye algún relato suyo sobre el tema que ayuda a contextualizar las distintas tecnologías y sus usos según la época en la que fueron escritos... Un libro de obligada lectura para los amantes de la ingeniería y que demuestr ...more
Aug 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
The mad bastards actually did it. It took four tries, and staggering sums of money, but they did it. Two ships -- one of them wooden -- rendezvoused in the middle of the Atlantic, took hold of two ends of a giant copper cable, and with a single escort each, daring the hazards of storm, shipping, and simple snags, spooled it out between them from Ireland to Newfoundland. They barely even understood how the telegraph cables worked (and this line wouldn't last long) but they bridged the New and Old ...more
Dec 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is really five short books sandwiched together into one medium-length book. The first book is about the laying of the transatlantic cable in the 19th century. The second book is about telephony and radio. Books three, four, and five are a grab-bag of essays about satellite technology, fiber-optic cable

The first book is as good as historical engineering nonfiction gets. I read the entire thing in a night and a day, carrying it with me from place to place. I read it on my couch, I read it at
Obed M. Parlapiano
Jul 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a magnificent history book. It's surprising how little you think of things that work all around you but you never see.

In "How the world Was One" Arthur C. Clarke, one of the "Big 3" sci-fy writers of his time, explains how the world went from sending messages via messenger boys and horses and waiting for days, months or even years for a reply, to sending messages via telegraphs that took minutes.

The book is very well formulated, and even though it's composed of Clarke's many different w
Diego González
Breve historia de cómo las redes de comunicaciones envolvieron el mundo y cualquier parte del planeta pasó a estar a minutos de cualquier otro lugar gracias a los cables. El libro consta de dos partes de calidad desigual. La primera, la prodigiosa historia de los primeros cables telegráficos trasatlánticos, es formidable. Es cierto que la historia en sí es tan maravillosa que a poco que un narrador sepa juntar un par de frases le sale un relato fabuloso, pero Clarke además lo hace genial (no así ...more
Capri Caviedes
Jan 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Para los amantes de las telecomunicaciones, una historia (sin detalle) de la evolución de los sistemas de telecomunicaciones desde el telégrafo hasta el satélite; toma el tema de fibra óptica pero sin entrar en profundidad. Es interesante lo que se menciona sobre la capacidad de elaborar sistemas de comunicación basados en neutrinos u ondas gravitacionales.
Jun 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Magnífico libro, lleno de humor y buenas historias (algunas ciertamente épicas), que repasa desde sus inicios la historia de las telecomunicaciones, desde el telégrafo y los primeros cables submarinos, pasando por los satélites de comunicaciones y otros inventos. Se ha quedado un poco desfasado por el año (1992) en que fue publicado. Aun así, absolutamente recomendable.
Caolan McMahon
Sep 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hard to rate this one. The first parts about laying the transatlantic telegraph cables are really great and worth the price alone, after that I quickly got bored and stopped reading. Looking at the other reviews on here I'm justified in not suffering to the end. ...more
Esteban Parraos
Muy emocionantes, el principio histórico y el final visionario.
Jan 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesantisimo libro de A. C. Clarke en el que repasa los grandes hitos que marcaron el inicio de la comunicación global.
Tamoor Hamid
Aug 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An astounding walk through the the history of communications!
May 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Echoing what a lot of people have already said, the first two parts are really good, the last part is quite a slog by comparison. 4 starts for parts 1 and 2, 2 stars for the 3rd part.
Tom Lee
Nov 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
An interesting and pleasantly conversational nonfiction account of how global networks were first achieved. The book has two parts, and their quality differs.

First is the story of undersea cables and the incredible feats of Victorian era engineering that made them possible. As Clarke observes, this was the last era of intelligent amateurs making okay guesses about scientific problems, then achieving success through trial and error. That this approach could deliver achievements as awe-inspiring a
Jan 21, 2013 rated it it was ok
I read the book based on references in Cryptonomicon (Cryptonomicon). The sections about the history of the undersea cables was very interesting and informative. I may have learned a little more that I wanted to know but Clarke does his usual great job of holding the reader's interest. The rest of the book was (to me a least) not very compelling. COMSAT history is fascinating but the the book basically (if pretend modestly) gives most of the credit to Clarke. Still, if there is interest in the h ...more
Jun 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book is a fascinating look into the physical realities of communication: from the first undersea cables for telegraphs to geosynchronous satellites (which Mr. Clarke posited in a SF story many years before they became reality). I found this book through a fabulous article by Neal Stephenson on the difficulties of laying new fiber-optic cable through the world that appeared in Wired in the late 90s.
Dec 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, science, own
This would have easily been a five star book, but the historical adventure of the first 2/3 leads into a lot of speculation that seems dated in 2011 (the book was written in 1991). Fortunately, he reprints some of his excellent speeches from the era that contain a few charming motes of wisdom that definitely apply to today's culture of hyper-information. ...more
Apr 18, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
A curious history of transatlantic communications, from telegraph to satellite, by the sci-fi author who is given some credit for the idea of communication by satellite. A little disjointed and dated.
Jan 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
The first part of this book, which documents the laying of submarine cable, is very suspenseful and interesting. The section on satellites, markedly less so. But all in all a good history of the communications industry.
Jul 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Un libro que deberían hacernos leer nada más poner un pie en la escuela de teleco. Fascinante y evocador.
Dean Prichard
Dec 31, 2014 rated it liked it
The undersea cable part is great, but the rest is only so-so.
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Arthur Charles Clarke was one of the most important and influential figures in 20th century science fiction. He spent the first half of his life in England, where he served in World War Two as a radar operator, before emigrating to Ceylon in 1956. He is best known for the novel and movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, which he co-created with the assistance of Stanley Kubrick.

Clarke was a graduate of King

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