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Complex technology is now widely available and commonplace, with new developments emerging almost every day. So how are we to keep up with and make sense of technological changes behind media and communication systems? Do new technologies change society, or are new media the products of social forces? This book examines how media and communication technologies work and considers the society that develops and uses them. From the telegraph to the future of mobile communication, Stephen Lax takes the reader through a critical examination of the most important technologies to come out of the past century. Each chapter is filled with insightful case studies and thought-provoking examples that clearly explain key concepts, whilst exploring historical context and chronological developments to show that 'new' technology depends upon its history. Assuming no prior technical knowledge, the book addresses both technical and social aspects of these developments, explaining bandwidths and frequencies alongside issues of policy and regulation. Illustrated with clear diagrams, boxes and tables, Media and Communication Technologies helps students to confront and make sense of the technological changes taking place in communications today.