Compressing Roman Data

To allow us to watch streamed movies  they are first compressed so they can be sent quickly. That just means a way is found to send the same information but with fewer data: fewer ones and zeros. Otherwise the movies pauses irritatingly because we watch them faster than the next bit can be sent to us.

A Roman slave, called Tiro, came up with the first widely used way of compressing data. He needed a fast way of writing so he could keep up with recording the words of his Master Cicero who was a great politician in Ancient Rome and opponent of Julius Caesar. Sometimes he had to record conversations as they hurried down the street.

He came up with one of the earliest forms of shorthand. A way to write using as few pen strokes as possible: a kind of data compression. It worked so well medieval monks were still using it many centuries later.


Roman emperor with thumb up
More Ancient History


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