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June 17, 2007



I do not agree with under-valuing the railroad's contribution to civilization, to communications technology. The railroad came before the telegraph and was a dramatic improvement over the pony express in terms of speed in those days. Communications means speed and availability. The telegraph was the beginning of communications being able to travel over the wire and ultimately over fiber optics at the speed of light. The telegraph made use of the right of way created for the railroad. The body of law concerning "common carriers" also co-evolved with the railway, telegraph and the telephone. The railway at 29 miles per hour was a 3 to 5 times speed improvement over the horse and the ocean liner. Under-valuing the railway is an indication of the rapid pace of technology change that began accelerating during the industrial revolution. Without the railway there may not have been a telegraph, as there would have been no right of way to take advantage of and no legal infrastructure for common carriers. Without the telegraph would we have had the telephone? Without the telephone would we have the Internet?

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