Sunday, February 05, 2006

R.I.P.: The Telegram, 1844-2006

Accoding to a short in the Washington Post the telegram joins the list of extinct technologies. The telegram was the first electrical, arguably digital (though not the same discrete bits we are used to using) telecommunications infrastructure. It engendered a huge amount of excitement and investment in its day. The collapse of the bubble associated with overbuilding its infrastructure was arguably the first telecomm collapse. RIP
Founded in 1856, Western Union -- which now specializes in long-distance financial transactions -- used the cutting-edge technology of sending messages cross-country via telegraph wire.
It died negleced, unoticed, barely attended even by its last owners...the WaPo waited a week before finding the space to report it.
Telegrams peaked in 1929 with 20 million messages sent. Last year, there were 20,000. The final one was sent last Friday...

In its final years, many of the senders delivered their words to Western Union by e-mail or phone. "I do recognize the irony," Chayet said.

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