Cables, Cables, Cables

July 24, 2001 8:45 AM   Subscribe

Cables, Cables, Cables
I got to thinking last night about all those cables lying along the ocean floor. This is a fascinating article on the history of telephonic cables; while this one adds a bit more color, and several interesting paintings.

"As history shows, the demand for undersea network capacities will only increase. There's no such thing as too much cable."
posted by mapalm (18 comments total)
What I really want to see, though, are actual photographs of these huge serpents slumbering on the ocean floor...but i came up empty.
posted by mapalm at 8:47 AM on July 24, 2001

Weird...I was thinking about the same thing last night, mapalm. Thanks for the links.
posted by msacheson at 8:49 AM on July 24, 2001

Weird, indeed...and glad to share.
posted by mapalm at 9:03 AM on July 24, 2001

This site is not so much historical as it is a brochure for services - but it has some cool photographs. Maybe someone has found some other cool photos?
posted by Umpqua at 9:07 AM on July 24, 2001

Is this a trick? OK I fell for it. How can you mention laying undersea cable without linking to Neil Stephenson's utterly fascinating article about how they do it.

Among many nifty tidbits:
"I found out that the idea of the Internet as a highly distributed, redundant global communications system is a myth,'' he discovered. "Virtually all communications between countries take place through a very small number of bottlenecks, and the available bandwidth simply isn't that great.''
posted by straight at 9:07 AM on July 24, 2001

Cool pix, umpqua. Thanx.

And straight: no, you didn't fall for anything, save my innocent querries...Thanks for the article.
posted by mapalm at 9:29 AM on July 24, 2001

Though I found the book to be a bit lacking, The Victorian Internet discusses transatlantic cabling in some detail.
posted by briank at 10:24 AM on July 24, 2001

straight beat me to the Stephenson article link. That was the best (not to mention longest) article Wired ever did.
posted by gen at 10:59 AM on July 24, 2001

Yeah, I got in trouble earlier because I printed it out for reading on the train ride home - not knowing it was 55 pages long!
posted by Irontom at 1:17 PM on July 24, 2001

I'm curious about the original 1866 cable: presumably it's still there, but obsolete. Does it still come ashore at both ends? Who owns it? Would it still work? -- like for a historic recreation of the original technology? Or is it lost like so much of the transitory technology of the last 200 years?
posted by beagle at 2:12 PM on July 24, 2001

Partially answering my own questions, here's a site with a sketchy description of the Heart's Content station, now a museum, dedicated 1985. The station apparently operated until 1965 or 1985 (can't make out the fuzzy photo), and the technology seems well preserved.
posted by beagle at 2:32 PM on July 24, 2001

And on the Irish end, there's a museum as well. According to this site, both Heart's Content and the Irish Valentia station closed 1966, so after 100 years of operation.
posted by beagle at 2:52 PM on July 24, 2001


Just spent my day reading the Wired article, er, tome. Thank you, thank you, straight.

(Would love to know the latest on FLAG, tho - the piece was written in 1996.)
posted by mapalm at 2:56 PM on July 24, 2001

No doubt. Thanks for the Stephenson link straight. First coming to mind was The Cryptonomicon for me. Which is the great thing about your link: More Stephenson to read! Going to finish it now. And I also must thank mapalm for inserting some fascination into a mundane day.
posted by crasspastor at 4:01 PM on July 24, 2001

The Smithsonian Institution has a small, fascinating exhibition in the American history museum titled "The Underwater Web". There are a few photos in their website, but the artifacts in the exhibit are really remarkable.
posted by bradlands at 8:35 PM on July 24, 2001

FLAG was completed in 1997, mapalm, and remains one of the longest single cable links. SEA-ME-WE has a network that stretches around the globe, though.

I can't get to tonight. But it's not like there's a lot to "happen" to them -- they're up and running, and if all goes well, you never hear about them.
posted by dhartung at 10:05 PM on July 24, 2001

There's an alcatel map of cables here and some more internet-centric info here. Forgive me if I've duplicated links.
posted by rdr at 10:30 PM on July 24, 2001

Thanks to all for a great thread!
posted by mapalm at 8:14 AM on July 25, 2001

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