We live in an age of change. Of course this is not new, the history of the human race has been one of change and adaptation throughout the ages. However, it seems that never before has the pace of change been so swift. Throughout the ages, this has been especially true with regards to how we communicate with each other.
Our earliest ancestors on the savannas of Africa, in the caves of Europe, and in the jungles of Asia no doubt communicated first by guttural sounds which over the millennia evolved into the many languages of humanity today. Some place the origin of language some 50,000 years ago and others push it back as far as 200,000 years ago or more. While the use of a spoken language meant that we could communicate our thoughts and ideas with others of our kind, it also meant that to pass on knowledge from one generation to the next humankind had to depend on “word of mouth” and storytellers, with all of the inherent miscommunication and garbling of the content that this generated.
A fundamental change took place with the advent of written communication. The Sumerians are credited as the first to use a written language more than 5000 years ago using cuneiform script on clay tablets. The use of a written language meant that information could be passed from person to person and generation to generation avoiding the vagaries and inaccuracies of human memory and recollection. Of course it was not very efficient or practical to carry around or store written information on pieces of clay. So, the use of papyrus as a writing surface, introduced by the Egyptians as far back as the third millennium BCE, represented an equally significant change in the means of written communication. The use of parchment made from animal skins replaced papyrus in many areas by 800 CE. The invention of the earliest form of paper is credited to the Chinese in 105 CE.
The most significant change in written communication until now, was the invention of the movable type printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in 1440. This invention enabled Gutenberg and others to print an entire book many times faster than it took scribes to write the book. It made literature and other writings widely available instead of the sole domain of the aristocracy and other elite classes. By providing a vehicle for the widespread dissemination of new, and at that time radical ideas, it more than any other invention fueled the fires that led to the emancipation of mankind from millennia of ignorance and domination by privileged classes.
In more recent times a host of electrical inventions have continued to change the way people communicate. Among the more notable of these inventions are the telegraph, telephone, radio, television and more recently the cell phone. An equally important invention or development has been the Internet. The Internet began as a computer network (ARPAnet) linking computer networks at several universities and research laboratories in the U.S. Now, the Internet is available around the world with over 1.5 billion people estimated to use it. Not only is it possible to send email back and forth, we can read newspapers, magazines and books, watch movies and videos, play online games and do many other things via the Internet. The Internet has become an invaluable source of information and exchange of ideas defying the attempts of some governments to control what we see and read. In this respect the impact of its development promises to be as significant as the invention of the printing press.
I hope that you have found this brief (and not necessarily complete) history of the changing nature of communication somewhat interesting. However, I suspect that by now you are wondering what does this have to do with ElectronicsCooling magazine? Well, when ElectronicsCooling began publication in 1995 it began as a print media and so it has remained until now. However, throughout this time all the articles published to date have been archived on the magazine’s website (www.electronic-cooling.com) and available online to readers. With this issue ElectronicsCooling is fully joining the digital age to become solely an online publication. While this change is being driven primarily by the cost of printing and distribution of the magazine, we the editors see it as offering the possibility of new avenues to more effectively communicate to our readers current and practical work as well as the latest reference information and data pertaining to thermal management for electronics. Precisely what form these new avenues may take only time will tell. However, we want to assure each of you that we will strive to maintain the same high standards of technical excellence and clarity that you have become accustomed to during the past 14 years of publication.