Hidden Histories of the Information Age aired last week on BBC Radio 4. It was a five-part series about five of the objects on display at the new Information Age gallery at the Science Museum (yes, where the Queen sent her first tweet from), and it was an absolutely brilliant way to discover more about the social impact of the infrastructures of the many communication media that we take for granted today. As I say in the script, the objects in the exhibition represent cultural moments from the last 200 years – not just technological innovations.

My producer Deborah Cohen and I are thrilled that one of the episodes – the TAT-1 – was featured on this week’s Radio 4’s Pick of the Week!

<a href=“http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/infoage “>You can still listen to them all. At only 15 minutes each, that’s barely a moment of your time. But if you prefer to cherry pick your podcasts, here’s a run-down of each:

<a href=“http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04lpxx3 “>Episode 1: Enfield Exchange
The Enfield telephone exchange was one of London’s main exchanges from the early to mid 20th century. It was operated by women – girls and young ladies – who had unprecedented access to people’s homes and offices.

This programme explores this catalyst in the shift of women’s roles in society, remarkable in the social and professional context of the tumultuous and dynamic first half of the 20th century.

<a href=“http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04m3bcc “>Episode 2: TAT-1
I knew very little about the TAT-1 before I started working on this programme, and very little about the story of Paul Robeson, who made this technology come to life for me.

Robeson was a shining star in the US and the UK during and after WW2, best known for his spectacular performance of Old Man River in the musical Show Boat, and for playing Othello at the Savoy in London. Hugely admired, critically acclaimed and enormously successful, Robeson ultimately lost his sheen in the eyes of the US government when he began to speak out for civil liberties for black Americans.

The TAT-1 was the first transatlantic telephone cable between the US and UK that created clear, high quality sound.At the same time, Robeson’s voice was systematically being silenced by the CIA under Hoover. As he was no longer able to travel internationally, he and a group of lefties in London came up with a clever plan: they organised a live concert at St Pancras down the line.

It may have been a feat of infrastructure innovation, but the TAT-1’s story is actually about democratising communication and bringing the voices of the silent to the ears of the crowd.

<a href=“http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04m3gc6 “>Episode 3: Our World
As a kid, I was fascinated by the One World programme. Not because I realised that it was an incredible technological feat, but because it was (famously) when the Beatles (my favourite band at the time) performed All You Need Is Love. You know, the one where John Lennon is singing and chewing gum at the same time. Crazy rebel.

Of course, in making this programme, I discovered that there was a heck of a lot more to the show than that. In fact, it was the very first live satellite broadcast, an incredible TV show that connected (almost) every country in the world.

Quivering with utopian idealism, One World was an essential stepping stone into our media-enabled world

<a href=“http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04m3ftg “>Episode 4: Leo Computer
The Leo computer was created by a delightfully mundane organisation – the Lyons Tea Shop. But it revolutionised business, ushered in the computer age and put its users at the centre of the human-computer interface.

The boom of office work in the post-war period brought with it transformations in British culture, from gender, age and class politics to fashion, transport and city planning trends. But arguably the thing that’s had the longest lasting impact was automation. The office computer transformed business beyond recognition.

Before the 1950s, and some way into it too, a job in the office mostly involved getting lost amongst the rows and rows of clerks calculating costs, filing papers and shuffling to and from the coffee station. There were some machines, but they were primitive and had very limited functions.

Change came from an unlikely corner: a company that was best known for its tea shops and its range of cakes and pies.

<a href=“http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04m3jcy “>Episode 5: GPS
Nowadays, we use GPS in our cars, on our watches, on our dogs. But it was only 20 years ago that GPS was a little-known quantity, used by the US military in the first Gulf War.

In this final episode of Hidden Histories of the Information Age, you can hear all about the revolutionary device that’s transformed how we navigate our world.