When William Russell, William Waddell, and Alexander Majors kicked off what famously became known as the Pony Express mail service in 1860, they revolutionized the way information was shared across America.

With the Civil War pressing for a better system of information sharing, riders carrying mail by horseback could cover greater distances than could be achieved by early models of the electric telegraph. While the telegraph was faster, it lacked an infrastructure of lines and powerful electronic batteries to cover great distances.

Technology of the time, like now, did develop quickly however. By the end of the Civil War messages were being broadcast across hundreds of miles of hastily constructed telegraph lines, signaling the initial onset of technology's journey into rural America.

The speed and methods of long distance communication began to change again in 1876 when Scottish immigrant Alexander Graham Bell was granted the first U.S. patent for his new talking box. While the telephone was not widely distributed and used until much later, the system was moving in the right direction to make communication between two distant point faster than ever before.

About 120 years later the cell phone became the new telegraph and callers could connect from places previously unserviced by telephone lines and the world began to change again. And now, with modern Internet and/or satellite phone capabilities, sharing information rapidly has not only taken a major jump forward, but along with it comes new technology that allows users to access, transmit and store all types of data in addition to making simple voice calls and text messages.

For agriculture and other major industries this means an entirely different way of doing business in modern times. Many farmers and ranchers have already adapted to the new technology and now use their iPhones, iPads, and Android-powered devices in the field instead of in the office to handle such diverse projects as monitoring changing weather conditions while working in the field, the ordering and status of material and supply deliveries, electronically saving receipts for goods received instead of folding up another piece of paper to keep in the pocket, controlling irrigation schedules, and so much more.

 

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With the availability of new phone and device applications - better known as apps - booming across the industry, farmers and ranchers who have learned to embrace the new technology are saying it is as important to them as once was a hammer and screwdriver in the tool box of their pick up truck - and it can do a great deal more to help manage their operations.