Telecommunications: From Telegraphs to Modems

Telecommunications: From Telegraphs to Modems
by Christopher Lampton

Franklin Watts Inc.
Glossary; Bibliography; Index


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LIBRARIAN: A prologue prepares the intended reader for the field of communications by discussing ways man has communicated in the past and then defines "telecommunications" as "communication at a distance." The main body is divided into two parts: analog telecommunications and digital communications.

At first thought, one would suppose that this book would be rather dull and boring. Not so! The text is easy to read and high schoolers even those not scientifically adept--will need little explanation. The book mentions historical figures such as Marconi, Morse, and Bell--names the students are sure to recognize--and the text clearly relates how the inventions of these men influenced the work of those that followed them. Even if a student is not enamored with such topics as radios and computers, he/she will find the book a useful source for research. The proposed digitization of telephone lines should fascinate some students. Though basically historical in presentation, this book will hold something of interest for the average student.

From the beginning to the end, this book is well-organized and proceeds from one topic to another without becoming too scientific or technical in its descriptions. It does contain diagrams to illustrate some concepts; however, these diagrams are not always on the page with the explanatory text. Photographs are included, but none of them are in color. Most students would find the book more appealing if color were included. Numerous terms are italicized in the text and often contextual clues will define these terms. The glossary, though quite adequate, does not include all these italicized terms. The list of other books to read includes nine books, at least half of which were published as recently as the '80s. The index seems somewhat short, but adequate, and includes italicization to indicate illustrations.

Since some high school libraries are now computerized and use modems to connect to other information sources, students are more aware of telecommunications. Many libraries now provide on-line database searching and CD ROM indexing. Telecommunications: from Telegraphs to Modems should be in the library too.

--Reviewed by Daniel R. Deach in Appraisal, 24/4 (Autumn 1981), p. 36.

SPECIALIST: This was a very interesting and very fun book to read. The author discusses the history, advances, and components of telecommunications beginning with the definition of "communication" and ending with how modem computers talk to each other. The author is very clear and understandable in his descriptions. Even though it is necessary to limit the detail in order for the intended audience (14 years and up) to follow along, he does a very good job in relating the rudiments. What was particularly noteworthy is that despite the simplicity of discussion, later topics were not found lacking. Too often, presenting a simplified view of fundamentals precludes an adequate discussion of more advanced topics; such was not the case here. The only main scientific faux pas was in the discussion of the nature of ultraviolet and infrared lights, described as "just below the frequency of blue light" and "just above the frequency of red light," respectively (p. 63). If taken at face value, it's just the opposite-- it should have been "above" the blue light and "below" the red. It is a slippery way of describing it, nonetheless. Regardless, it is a very good book and certainly worth seeking out by anyone who is interested in the subject.

--David W. Ball, Cleveland State Univ., Cleveland, OH

--Reviewed by David W. Ball in Appraisal, 24/4 (Autumn 1981), p. 36.