It’s true. The first “tweets” were send in the 1920’s and 30’s by radio operators desperate to reach an audience with the least possible number of characters ! That’s right, Twitter is the internet version of a very old idea.
Twitter’s success highlights the idea that one of the the real values of Twitter is the forced 140 character limit and the conciseness and clarity that results in using it as a communications medium.
Now flash back to the 1930′s. Here’s an actual broadcast from a 1932 expedition to Antarctica sent in morse code over shortwave radio. It would look very familiar to those of us that text and tweet.
R R UR 569 WX HR GD TMP 10C NW 0700Z AND GNG TO BED QSL 0600.
Sent by some hearty soul sitting in a tent on McMurdo Sound broadcasting to his support crew somewhere in North America, it reads“Roger, I received your message with a little bit of garbling. The weather here is good with the temperature 10 degrees centigrade. It’s now 7 AM greenwich mean time and I am going to bed. Will confirm status with you again tomorrow at 6 AM our time”. Not bad for 58 characters (including spaces).
The real question is would this really tough and adventurous arctic explorer have called his message a “Tweet”. Well, probably not.