Where relaying scores from other games was concerned, the first great technological breakthrough involved nothing more advanced than sticking a small man inside a wooden box and instructing him to hang numbers up to signify the scores.
Nowadays, of course, thanks to the technological insanity of having the whole internet stuffed into your mobile phone, it's impossible not to know the scores of any game taking place at any stadium in the world at any time of day or night. A tsunami of information is all but a flick of your thumb and a decent 4G connection away. But the old days were very different, as this photograph of Millwall hosting Newcastle United in 1957 clearly illustrates.
Overlooking the very obvious issues of health and safety, as the club themselves obviously did, you'll notice the pioneering scorebox in shot here, just about visible underneath the arms and legs of various ‘sarf Lahn’ rogues.
The premise was devilishly simple. Those square windows on the front of the box corresponded with a game taking place somewhere else in England that day. So, for example, box 'A' was assigned to the game between Arsenal against Wolverhampton Wanderers. Box 'B' was Liverpool against Everton. Box 'C' for etc against so on and so forth. At half-time, having received the scores via carrier pigeon, the little man inside the box would shuffle around shoving the number boards up – a '1' for Arsenal and a '0' for etc. And so on and so on.
As the numbers went up, so did the jeers and cheers of the fans inside the stadium – albeit after a long silence in which everyone attempted to decipher the complicated code. Because, in a devious twist by the club, the paying punter would only make sense of the numbers if he purchased the official match programme, as that revealed which letter was which game. (Of course, he could just have asked the man beside him to ask the man beside him, but then he'd have entered into an overblown round of Chinese Whispers so couldn't be sure if what he was hearing was true). Some of the more progressive scoreboxes were updated as the game went on, making them the forerunner to the BBC's Vidiprinter, on super slow-mo.
You might wonder why the club didn't just read the scores out over the Tannoy, which would have been quicker and easier for everybody. But how do you make any money from that? Yes, the rampant commercialism of the beautiful game was very much up and running.