The Evolution of Technology: From a Railroad to Wireless.

The United States railway system is a phenomenal story. In 1828 the B&O Railroad was born. Yes, the one on the Monopoly board. Spawning towns across the nation, connecting farms and cities, delivering mail and goods; the railways system was responsible for unimaginable growth and change. Fun fact: Ski Resorts were largely made popular by the railway system to boost tourist business. The world’s first chair lifts were designed at Union Pacific’s headquarters in Omaha.

The Southern Pacific Railroad was started in 1865. It didn’t take long, and in just 3 years it merged with Central Pacific Railroad. United States expansion was on. There was no end in sight; no concept of high-speed data or wireless communications. Only the notion of faster transport for people and goods. And, ultimately becoming one of the largest distribution networks in the world.

Fast Forward…

In 1970, the good ole phone system was working well for us. And, there were some new technologies like microwave and fiber optics offering a world of unknown possibilities. The idea of a network for more than just the phone company was rapidly gaining momentum. With that, Southern Pacific Railroad began the installation of an internal communications network. They installed microwave and fiber-optic telecommunications lines along all its tracks.

Fast Forward…getting closer.

In 1978, The Southern Pacific Railroad began providing long-distance telephone service along its network of microwave and fiber-optics. They ran into a legal battle with MCI, eventually won, and began providing fully switched voice services to the masses. The company needed a new name for this service. Through a contest, the winning entry was “SPRINT”, an acronym for Southern Pacific Railroad International Telecommunications.


Through mergers and acquisitions, the largest with Nextel Communications, SPRINT has grown from an internal network for a railroad to one of the nation’s largest providers of wired and wireless telecommunications. Whowouldathunkit?

Just as disruptive as the railway system was to the societal fabric of our nation, it also laid the foundation for a future form of disruption that it couldn’t have possibly anticipated. Yet, as the companies grew, merged, adopted, adapted, invented, reinvented, and persevered, they afforded themselves the opportunity to be the ambassadors of change. And by being the ambassadors of change, they were also the beneficiaries.

Technologies like artificial intelligence and data analytics are opening doors to the future. Machine learning is creating a future world that we can’t see coming but will arrive. No matter the industry, you will be affected by it. How? That part can still be up to you.





Written by:
Brian Barnett
Director of Marketing, CX Aficionado, Engineer, Photographer, Family Man…


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