The Politics of Innovation

John, Richard R.

This essay provides a historical perspective on the process of innovation in American communications. It is drawn from a larger, ongoing study of communications policy in the post-office department, Western Union, and the Bell System in the formative era that stretched from the adoption of the Constitution to World War I. This period holds special interest for students of innovation, since it witnessed the establishment of a modern postal system as well as the commercialization of the electric telegraph and telephone—three of the most notable improvements in communications technology during the past two hundred years.

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August 1, 2018