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Porthcurno beach submarine cable 1906
The global communications network depends in a large part on the undersea cables that criss-cross the planet's seabeds, capable of carrying more than 50 million phone calls simultaneously. Those cables have been around for about 150 years; here is a look back at the early days in contrast to the present.
Pictured above is the beach at Porthcurno in Cornwall on the 6 August, 1906, where workers are laying a submarine telegraph cable to Fayal in the Azores.
The very first transatlantic telegraph cable was laid in 1858. Queen Victoria telegraphed US president James Buchanan to express her congratulations and her fervent wish that the cable "will prove an additional link between the two places whose friendship is founded upon their common interests and reciprocal esteem".
Rather unfortunately, the cable was destroyed in an accident not long after. A permanent link was established in 1866, when a new cable was unspooled over the seabed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel's ship the SS Great Eastern.
So important was the cable's role in making the world a smaller place that it was included in a giant fresco in the rotunda of the US Capitol building.
Photo credit: Cable & Wireless Worldwide