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Farewell to the telegram, 20th century time capsule

The Christian Science Monitor reports that next month a state-run Indian telecom will be shutting down its telegraph operations, moving the industry one step closer to impending extinction.

Representatives for Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited say the company is reportedly losing $23 million a year in revenue from the lagging service.


James Meredith’s telegram to the University of Mississippi announcing his plans to enroll the then all-white university.

Ars Technica IT editor Sean Gallagher writes that telegraphs are still being sent in parts of the world by companies like Canada’s International Telegraph.

However, the rise of e-mail, instant messaging and now texting has reduced the technology to a bygone relic.

Ironically, if you were to read many Tweets today they bear striking resemblances to their paper ancestors.

“At last I know true meaning of rapture, Jackie is enshrined forever in my heart.”

-John F. Kennedy, 1953

“I don’t like leading people on. I will not date @drake ever. I only want to be his friend. I’m sorry that I insult him but it’s hard not to!”

-Amanda Bynes, 2013

Okay, maybe not.

The first telegraph message was sent in the United States in 1843 by inventor Samuel Morse.

Longtime U.S. telegraph company Western Union put a stop to its telegram operations in 2006, although its still used for money transfers.

Here’s a pretty cool Tumblr account that includes pictures of some of the last century’s famous telegrams including:

  • A publisher’s compliments to Mississippi writer Richard Wright for his newly written memoir Black Boy.
  • A plea for justice addressed to President Eisenhower from the mother of Chicago schoolboy Emmett Till after he was murdered in Money, Mississippi.
  • A telegram to the Registrar’s Office at the University of Mississippi from James Meredith announcing his plans to enroll at the then all-white university.



About Stephen McDill

One comment

  1. Stephen, so there will be no telegrams? Cool i have so many maybe i can sell it with a good prices

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