Revolutions: The Ideas That Changed the World

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Series 1 - Episode 4 Smartphone



Smartphones are perhaps the ideal subject for this carefully measured science-history series: how on earth the things perform their miracles demands an explanation of several discrete but linked breakthroughs, from Roman battlefield signals and Bell’s telephone through to Marconi’s radio and the development of the microchip, with actress/inventor Hedy Lamarr arriving somewhere in the middle to pep the story up with her unique mix of glamour and Nazi-smashing guile.

The way different academics front each segment, all linked by Jim al-Khalili as the omniscient main presenter, is itself a pleasing innovation.


Jim Al-Khalili presents a look at the history behind the smartphone, discovering how the Roman army sent messages over long distances using fire and examining the advances made by Samuel Morse, Alexander Graham Bell's favour and Guglielmo Marconi. The programme also examines how the inventions of scientist and movie star Hedy Lamarr has been used to increase network capacity.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Jim Al-Khalili
Director Sean Smith
Executive Producer Iain Riddick
Executive Producer Ben Bowie