It was far back in 1794 when Santa asked his wife Christmas
Eve about ideas for gifts to Mankind. And Eve said "Mathematics must be
fun. Have you ever thougt of that genious Niclas Edelcrantz in Stockholm who
as scientist, poet, theatre director and industrialist has found a place
close to the king. And have you thougt of all those people around the world
who are trying to telegraph messages over long distances with help of flags,
semaphores and all sorts of curious constructions. Why not give Edelcrantz
the idea that binary mathematics could be combined with the digital insight
that a switch that has only two precise places, on or off, has less chances
to be misunderstood than any other means giving more opportunities."
"You mean that your speech should be yes, yes or no,
no?", Santa said.
But it took some time for him to be convinced by Eve that
all information could be translated into binary codes consisting of just the
numbers 1 and 0.
Later Santa got a drawing from Eve and one night put it under
Edelcrantz´ pillow. Several optical telegraph lines were
built up in Sweden after Edelcrantz´directions and were in
use for more than a half century. The digital system was comparatively fast
compared to other optical telegraph systems as it could
deliver 1024 different signs and thus give lots of information with little handwork.
40000 words and expressions only needed two signs to be
signalled. And up to 16 signs could be sent around 30 kilometers
per minute. That is almost twice the speed of sound.
"But do you think that this system will
have a future?" Santa asked. And Eve replied:"More
than you can believe. In fifty years, people will telegraph
through electric cables and in houndred years, they will learn
how to send messages wireless through the air. But in 150
years people know how to build mashines that can automatically
translate information into binary codes and reverse. And in
200 years you will have, instead of telegraph lines, a
wireless worldwide web spreading binary digits at the speed of
light. You will be able to send texts, pictures and sounds
from any place and pic it up at any other place. Believe me or