50 Years Ago

The major part of the inaugural address as president of the Institution of Electrical Engineers, delivered by Sir Gordon Radley... was devoted to a consideration of world telecommunication, a subject particularly topical in view of the recent opening to traffic of the first trans-Atlantic telephone cable. The practical realization of inter-continental multi-channel telephone communication by submarine cable is, in Sir Gordon's view, revolutionary in its possibilities, because the traffic capacities of such cables are likely to exceed the existing demand for telegraph and telephone facilities on their routes... A new facility is planned for the trunk telephone network of Great Britain in the form of subscriber-dialling of long-distance calls. To render this practicable, it is necessary to have a nation-wide number scheme...

From Nature 8 December 1956.

100 Years Ago

To conclude, one may quote some admirable remarks... on the unfortunate result of ignorant European interference with Kafir customs... “In olden days there were regular courts of investigation, consisting of a dozen old women of the kraal. All the girls were medically examined by these women before and after large dances; and thus certain forms of vice were impossible as they would be so speedily detected. Nowadays the young women will not submit to such examination... [A]ncient restraints have been removed, and no new ones have been substituted by white men. The result is disastrous... The case of 'mixed bathing' of the children is another example of a somewhat similar thing. According to Western conceptions of morality this practice is indelicate and liable to lead to immorality. So missionaries advised natives to abandon it. The natives now declare that the abandonment of this custom has led to an increase of immorality, and say that it introduces new vices amongst the people.”

From Nature 6 December 1906.