Early Innovations in Communications

While there are many examples of highly innovative developments in the very wide field of communications, there are three unique world firsts that are particularly worthy of mention.

Lesser known than most, but perhaps of greater importance to philatelists of the world, was Colonial Postmaster-General of New South Wales, James Raymond who introduced the world's first pre-paid postal system on 1 November 1838, when embossed stamped letter-sheets bearing the seal of the New South Wales Post Office were offered for sale at 1s 3d a dozen. An innovative inducement was offered to the public, who were encouraged to bring their own paper or envelopes to be stamped for a fee of just 1s 8d for 25 items.

Another little known Australian innovation was the telephane - the forerunner of the television. It was invented by Henry Sutton in Ballarat, Victoria in 1885, three years before the birth of Scotsman John Logie Baird, who made use of Sutton's patent just before World War II. Sutton devised it to transmit the running of the Melbourne Cup horse-race in Melbourne, to the town of Ballarat. It did not have a screen, and the viewer had to look into a hole at the end of a long tube. Sutton's method of signal transfer involved the use of telegraph lines, which could not handle the amount of data required for high resolution pictures. Had the radio been invented before this, Sutton's telephane could perhaps have been more successful.

In 1927, at the suggestion of Presbyterian missionary John Flynn, electrical engineer and wireless experimenter Alfred Traeger developed the pedal wireless. The innovative pedal-operated generator connected to a wireless, provided remote Australian settlements with a practical and an inexpensive method of communication with the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

The pedal wireless was also the innovation that made it possible for the School of the Air to be established.

  • Early Innovations in Agriculture
  • Early Innovations in Transport
  • Early Innovations in Communications
  • Early Innovations in Science and Medicine
  • Imaginative Innovations
  • Notable Australian World Firsts from 1838 to 1995.

    Public Notice: Due to an unresolved dispute with the Australian Trade Commission (Austrade), who copied and adopted as their own certain material from Tomorrow's World, the Australian Initiative, and published the material in their Australia Open for Business website, without remorse or recompense, access by Australian Government servers to this online edition has been blocked indefinitely.

    Print Edition: ISBN 0646252119 - Paperback - 224 pages - 350 illustrations - $55.00 incl. GST.

  • Home | Editions | Reviews | Promotions | Publisher