Over the past seven centuries—and particularly during the 19th and 20th centuries—technological innovation has given rise to a variety of recording and transmission media that have facilitated the spread of communication to large audiences dispersed widely in time and space. Such innovations have influenced not only the character of mass media but also, by extension, the character of the societies that have used them. Although the history of mass media innovation is long and winding, it may be superficially divided into three major eras: print, electronic, and digital. This entry provides an overview of these eras and the major shifts that occur in the scale, speed, and varieties of communication during each era.

Print Media

Widely credited to German goldsmith Johannes Gutenberg in the mid-1450s (but developed ...

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