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Telecommunications Italian Style. The shaping of the constitutive choices (1850-1914)

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Fari S., Balbi G., Richeri G.
Articolo pubblicato in rivista scientifica
This chapter analyses the ‘Italian style’ in the history of telecommunications, focusing on the national ‘constitutive choices’ made by governments between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and adopting a comparative and transnational perspective in order to identify similarities and differences on the international scene. The first part provides a survey of the existing literature on the origin and development of Italian telecommunications; the authors argue that, despite the abundance of sources, the historical analysis still remains rather limited. In the second part the peculiarities of Italian telecommunications during its early stages of development (between 1850 and 1914) are identifi ed and described. Three main issues are discussed: first, the development of a ‘telegraph paradigm’ later adapted to other telecommunication systems; second monopoly, above all state monopoly, as the management model that was adopted in that period; fi nally, the persisting technological backwardness, in sharp contrast with the high qualitative level of technicians and managers. In the conclusion this chapter discusses how some of these early characteristics – described by the authors as constitutive choices – influenced the history of Italian telecommunications as a whole and created a clearly recognizable national style.
History of Technology, vol. 32
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