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The cables that connect our world

Today we think of our data being in the 'cloud', but in reality it mostly travels around the world along vast undersea cables.

This incredible feat of engineering was first tried in the 19th century, with the laying of telegraph cables that paved the way for modern, instantaneous communication.

After a cable was successfully laid across the English Channel, engineers set their sights on a mammoth challenge: the Atlantic Ocean.

Back on dry land, railways were connecting towns and cities faster than ever before, causing a fundamental problem with our traditional ways of keeping time—but telegraph cables offered a solution.

By the early 20th century, the instantaneous exchange of information via telegraph cables was changing—and speeding up—the way business was organised. This was a boon to the financial sector—but could the new technology hold up during a record market crash?

And into the 20th century. new long-distance telephone cables proved a vital tool for breaking down political barriers to freedom. All these developments paved the way for the much smaller, globally interconnected world we live in today.

Part of the Science Museum Group