Prior to the period known as recorded history and before the development of an organized and shared language, interactions between humans were accomplished through a display of emotions, simple counting systems and visual artistic representations, such as cave wall or rock paintings. The roots of what developed into modern communication can be traced back to the Ancient Greeks. Although their civilization contained few individuals who could read and write, the Ancient Greeks raised oral communication to the level of a studied and practiced discipline known as rhetoric, a term first coined by Aristotle.
Taking their cue from the Greek civilization that preceded theirs, the Ancient Romans continued refining the art of oral communication through the study of rhetoric. In the second half of the 4th century, St. Augustine incorporated what he had learned of rhetoric into the discipline of writing and delivering sermons.
The discipline of rhetoric soon became part of the art of letter-writing. By the end of the 1800s, and fueled by the growing numbers of white collar workers, the study of effective rhetoric in oral and written communications became an important part of higher education.