Engaging with Communications

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Public Talks

Would you like to arrange a talk for your group, club or society? If so you will find here a list of talks which are currently been offered together with booking information, a biography of Professor Linge and testimonials from groups who have already received a talk. Each talk is designed for a general public audience and is delivered as a multimedia PowerPoint presentation supplemented with a range of physical artefacts as appropriate. Depending on the audience a more technically orientated version of each talk can be delivered on request. Groups that have enjoyed one of these talks include Probus and Probex Clubs, Rotary Clubs, Women's Institutes, Associations of the National Trust, the U3A, local history societies and Professional Institutions. Do please get in touch to discuss your requirements. You can download a PDF file that provides details of the talks currently being offered and follow this link to view a complete list of the talks that have been delivered.

List of currently available talks

  • From Man on the Moon to life in cyberspace

    From Man on the Moon to Life in Cyberspace lecture title slide

    In 1969 Apollo 11 touched down on the surface of the Moon, however, a lesser known fact is that in December of that same year the first four computers were connected together to form what we now know as the Internet. This lecture takes as its starting point 1969 and looks at how the early development of the Internet was achieved. From there it goes on to trace the evolution of both the Internet and the World Wide Web to the point where today virtually every aspect of daily life has been impacted and influenced. Mankind may well have made a giant leap on reaching the Moon but cyberspace has potentially had a far greater impact on us all!

  • How Manchester Cotton wired up the world

    How Manchester Cotton wired up the world lecture title slide

    In the mid-1800's the Lancashire Cotton industry dominated the world market for finished cotton goods pieces. However, since cotton was not grown in the UK it had to be imported which generated significant trade across the Atlantic. This and other industries therefore drove a business case for improved global communications and from that a desire to link the telegraph networks of the UK and USA with a copper cable under the Atlantic. Nothing on this scale had been attempted before and so this lecture tells the heroic story of the engineers and businessmen who battled numerous setbacks to deliver this pioneering achievement. The lecture goes on to show how the trans-Atlantic telegraph cable then spawned a revolution that delivered the world's first global network that had encircled the planet by 1902.

  • Telstar – 50+ years of the telecommunications satellite

    Telstar - 50+ years of the telecommunications satellite  title slide

    In October 1957 the world was amazed by Russia's Sputnik satellite which became the first man-made object to orbit the earth. Whilst Sputnik and those that immediately followed it demonstrated the potential of satellites, it was not until the launch of Telstar in July 1962 that the world would truly be able to exploit the full potential of a telecommunications satellite in space. This lecture tells the story behind Telstar, its capabilities, the importance of Goonhilly Downs in Cornwall, and the world firsts in television and telephone transmission across the Atlantic that it delivered. From there the lecture will show how today's satellites allow you to receive hundreds of television channels, pinpoint your location on the planet, know whether it will rain tomorrow, make telephone calls from the remotest parts of the world and browse the web whilst flying at 30,000 feet!

  • The call what he made

    The call what he made title slide

    Comedian Ernie Wise was one half of the UK's hugely popular comedy double act, Morecambe and Wise, and was famous for the "plays what he wrote!" However, on 1st January 1985 Ernie Wise made history by inaugurating the UK's first mobile telephone network. This therefore was "the call what he made" that signalled the start of our mobile communications revolution which today has resulted in the situation where there are now more mobile phones than people in the country. Those early mobiles were huge, extremely heavy, very expensive, had limited battery life and could only make telephone calls. This lecture tells the story of how that technology has evolved over a relatively short period of time to deliver today's smart phone that acts as our gateway to the web, ensures that we have a camera with us at all times, can pinpoint our physical location within a few metres on the planet's surface and has transformed our lives and the very language we use to communicate.

  • The Red Box

    The red box title slide

    It has achieved iconic status; it symbolises Britain; but it is now seldom used! The British Telephone Kiosk has been part of our landscape since 1921when the first K1 model was introduced. However, it was the K2 design by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott and then his much more numerous K6 design that established the now familiar and iconic red box on our streets. Today the mobile phone generation have probably never stepped inside a telephone kiosk let alone used one. Nevertheless there they remain as an essential part of what makes Britain, Britain! This lecture looks at the history and evolution of the humble British Telephone Kiosk through all of its major models, including those that were introduced by organisations other than BT and also the one that is now more famous because it is used by a Time Lord. It will conclude with a consideration of what future lies ahead for our familiar red boxes and also show that they are actually not all painted red!

  • Our Wireless World

    Our Wireless World talk title slide

    We are today more reliant on wireless communications than ever before. Our smartphones use the latest 4G wireless technology, we access the Internet from home using tablets and laptops connected via WiFi, our ability to navigate is increasingly dependent on GPS and our radio listening and television viewing are both dependent on radio broadcasting. This lecture traces the history and key developments in wireless technology from the first theories put forward by James Clerk Maxwell to the practical realisation and exploitation of the technology as a viable means of communication. You will discover that is was a Welshman who was the first to transmit radio signals, how Chelmsford became a world centre for radio, how a military walkie-talkie gave us the mobile phone and the link between a film actress and World War Two torpedo that made both Bluetooth and WiFi possible.

  • The Winged Messenger

    The winged messenger title slide

    From the earliest times, our ability to communicate with one another has been essential to our evolution. Even the Gods of Ancient Roman understood this and made Mercury their messenger. With his winged sandals, traveller's hat and serpents to protect him, Mercury could be relied upon to deliver all of the Gods' messages quickly and reliably. This lecture will show how technology of the day has always been exploited to improve our ability to communicate over greater and greater distances and at an ever faster speed. Enjoy a whistle-stop tour through 2,500 years of history that takes you from the early forms of semaphore signalling to today's all powerful smart phones that provide access to a seemingly infinite source of information and keep us connected wherever we happen to be, twenty four hours a day!

  • Via Eastern – Building the world's first global network

    Via Eastern title slide

    The laying of a trans-Atlantic telegraph cable in 1866 proved that it was practical and possible to communicate using electricity over thousands of miles. This success led to a massive expansion in the laying of oceanic telegraph cables and the emergence of global telecommunications companies such as the Eastern Telegraph Company. This lecture will look at how those cables were laid, how new technology allowed for the automatic transmission and routing of telegrams, why the small village of Porthcurno in Cornwall became a major international communications hub, and how a Glaswegian working in Manchester became one of the most influential figures in global communications. This therefore is the story of how the Victorian's built the world's first global network for communications.

  • The first and last mile – your route to super-fast broadband

    The first and last mile title slide

    Most homes in the UK are connected by a pair of copper wires to a local exchange. For many years those wires were used solely for making and receiving telephone calls. However, the personal computer, the Internet and World Wide Web changed all of that and now those same wires give you access to a seemingly infinite source of information, allow you to buy things online, bring you television on demand, meet all of your social networking needs and enable you to play interactive games with people in other countries. How has all of this been possible? This lecture examines that pair of copper wires and shows how improvements in the telephone network gave us the 56K modem, how new technology called ADSL delivered broadband to our homes and now how optical fibre is delivering superfast broadband. Those wires have become the critical first and last mile of our connected world.

Download the above list of talks as a PDF file.

Enquiries, bookings and venue requirements

If you wish to make an enquiry or booking for a talk to your group please use the following contact options:


n.linge @ salford.ac.uk


0161 295 4759


Professor Nigel Linge
School of Computing, Science and Engineering,
University of Salford,
Greater Manchester.
M5 4WT

Please note that it is becoming increasingly common for lectures to be booked twelve months in advance of delivery.

Venue Requirements

All that is required at the venue is the provision of a projector screen (or suitable wall for projection onto), easy access to mains electricity, tables on which to place a laptop/projector and the range of physical artefacts that are brought along as visual aids and additional interest for the audience. Car parking close to the venue is also preferred for ease of handling equipment.

Biography of Professor Linge

Picture of Professor Nigel Linge

Nigel Linge is Professor of Telecommunications at the University of Salford with over 25 years experience as a member of academic staff. He is an electronic engineer by profession who specialises in computer networks and their applications and has research interests that cover location and context based services, communication protocols, the delivery of multimedia applications, network design and the use of networks for sensing. He also takes a keen interest in telecommunications heritage and is active in public and schools engagement. He offers a series of popular general interest lectures that showcase the engineering achievements that lie at the heart of our telecommunications revolution and examine how our lives have been transformed. In 2013 he was chosen as the presenter of the Institute of Telecommunication Professionals' Family Christmas Presentations for which he delivered his lecture entitled, "Your world in your hand" at five venues around the UK. Nigel is a Chartered Engineer and Chartered IT Professional, a Fellow of both the Institution and Engineering and Technology and British Computer Society and a member of the Institute of Telecommunication Professionals.


Many thanks again for a superb presentation. Many members approached afterwards to say how impressed they were with your talk.

Vale Royal Probus Club, July 2016

Another excellent talk. Am still getting compliments about the talk so thanks again.

IET Mersey and Western Cheshire Network, March 2015

Very many thanks for your talk on Telstar yesterday. It was very much enjoyed by all 38 attending, and I received several very positive comments from our members. You pitched the talk at just the right level for scientists and non-scientists alike! Congratulations! We will certainly be asking you to come again to talk to us in the future.

Chairman, Stockport U3A Science and Technology Group, December 2014

Professor Nigel Linge attended Bollington Probus Club on Tuesday 9th September and gave us a talk on How Manchester Cotton Wired the World. He made the talk interesting, funny in places, not over technical and his delivery was excellent. Several of our members are hard of hearing or deaf and these are the ones who usually have difficulty understanding what the speaker is saying, even though we have a loop system. It was a first time that every one of these members gave me a positive response, with comments like that was the best talk we have ever had, or what a great speaker, I heard every word. We would very much like to book Nigel for further talks and I’m sure they will be equally well received.

Programme Secretary, Bollington Probus Club, September 2014

We have held a Speakers meeting since our inception nearly 10 years ago, that is, over 100 people have addressed the meeting. I have been a member for 6 years, and can say with absolute confidence that Nigel’s address was the best yet. He was not only highly informative, but also highly entertaining and explained a potentially difficult subject with aplomb. I have talked to a number of my colleagues and other members, who would endorse every word of these comments. I have no hesitation in recommending Nigel to any group.

Chairman of Upholland U3A, July 2014

I wanted to thank you again for your excellent talk at Tarporley U3A last Thursday. We really enjoyed it and thought it very well presented. Those members who attended are still talking about how good it was.

Tarporley U3A, June 2014

Thanks again for presenting on our annual Lecture programme. Judging by everyone in the audience stayed all the way till the end, and the number of questions during QandA time and after the talk around you, I felt the lecture was well received. The exhibits you brought along also made the lecture so much more interesting.

IET Manchester Network, April 2014

Please accept this belated 'thank you' for the talk that you gave. The feedback from my fellow members is unanimously appreciative and we all look forward to your next visit, which I am pleased to say is already booked.

Prestbury 91 Probus Club, January 2014

People are still talking about this year’s presentation, especially the younger attendees. Professor Nigel Linge from the University of Salford, a truly enthusiastic supporter of anything linked to communications, delivered entertaining, thought provoking and very educational lectures with numerous mobile phones on hand from the last 40 years! It was amazing especially the demonstration of how mobile phones work using nothing more than some coloured plastic balls and four buckets.

The Institute of Telecommunications Professionals, December 2013

I took my 10 year old son to the talk, and he is still enthusing about it this morning.

Ive been in the industry for many years, but I have learned something new today, well done.

Attendees at the ITP Christmas Family Presentations, December 2013

A super-big thank you for your talk last night. It really did go down a storm with the attendees. From my point of view, it was a delight to know that I was in the hands of a master - the talk was informative, interesting and entertaining - with a really nice level of engagement with the audience. And all beautifully managed in terms of timings. What more could one ask for! It really was the perfect centrepiece to the evening - and provided an excellent catalyst for discussions between delegates afterwards.

IET Gloucester Network, July 2013

As a speaker you are brilliant. All four talks have been easy to understand and informative. All our members look forward to seeing you again and again. I have organised about 230 talks and you are right at the top of the list.

Urmston Park Probus Club, March 2013