British History Repeats Itself In Cyberspace p.30

By: Editorial Staff IN THE MIDDLE of night, the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire British light infantry unit, the first to land on French soil during the Normandy invasion, made a noiseless descent using gliders, on two key bridges.
They met little resistance, therefore commanding a strategic position before the Germans knew what hit them. By the time the Germans tried to take it back, it was no good. The light infantry unit paved the way for the actual troops who were coming in by boat ? much the way Reuters has on the Information Superhighway.
So, the British infantry's history could be considered a parallel to Reuters News Service history and foray into cyberspace.
Like the infantry, Reuters was the first news agency on the Internet in force. And like the infantry, Baron von Reuter, founder of the news wire, paved the way for others to follow.
Born in 1816, German-born Israel Beer Josaphat of Jewish parentage, and founder of the Reuter News Service, became a Christian and adopted the name of Reuter in 1844.
Reuter met the famous mathematician and physicist Carl Friedrich Gauss while working as a clerk in his uncle's bank. At the time, Gauss was experimenting with the electric telegraph, and it intrigued Reuter.
In the early 1840s, Reuter joined a small publishing house in Berlin. After publishing a number of controversial political pamphlets, he moved to Paris in 1848, the year of revolution in Europe.
He then began translating extracts from articles and commercial news and sending them to papers in Germany. In 1850, he thought that if he sent his work via carrier-pigeon service between Aachen and Brussels, instead of ship, he would have a tremendous time advantage. Aachen and Brussels were also the terminal points of the German and French-Belgian telegraph lines.
Reuter moved to England in 1851 and opened a telegraph office near the London stock exchange. At first, he only did commercial telegraphs, but when daily newspapers started to flourish, he persuaded several publishers to subscribe to his service ? telling them they would have a large time advantage with the new technology.
Reuter also paved the way for information embargos. In 1859, he actually convinced Napoleon III to give him a copy of his speech beforehand on the promise that he would not start "moving" it until Napoleon started speaking.
Reuter then used the telegraph to transmit the speech to Fleet Street so it could be published in real time ? something his news service is still known for today. That speech foreshadowed the Austro-French Piedmontese war in Italy.
Then, when President Lincoln was assassinated, Reuter found a way to get the news three days earlier than everyone else. He hired a man to row out from a small Irish town to meet the mail ship from America. He would pick up the mail, then Reuter used telegraph lines from Ireland to London to publish news about the assassination before anyone else got it.
The spread of undersea cables helped Reuter to extend his service to other continents. For many years after that, Reuters, Havas of France and Wolff of Germany were the three news agencies that had a monopoly on world press services. Reuter was made a baron in 1871, retired as managing director of Reuters in 1878. He died in Nice, France, in 1899.
?(Thanks to Bill Chambers, radio man for the Oxf. & Bucks light infantry reenactment group, for providing the historical context.) [Caption]


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