The world’s last telegram ever will be sent next month on July 14 by India’s state-run telecommunications company.
For our younger readers, a “telegram” is like your grandpa’s text message. It’s on paper and comes to your mail box. No, not your email inbox. Forget it.
Anyway, the world’s last telegram will be sent next month, according to the Christian Science Monitor. July 14 will mark the end of over 160 years of the telegram’s existence. The first was sent by Samuel Morse in 1844.
The reason Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited is stopping telegram services is that it is losing more than $23 million each year by keeping it running. Only about 5,000 telegrams are sent each day in India, a country with a population of 1.24 billion.
“We were incurring losses of over $23 million a year because SMS and smartphones have rendered this service redundant,” said a spokesman.
Telegram usage in India reached its peak in 1985, with 60 million telegrams sent and received from 45,000 offices. Today, only 75 of those offices still exist, though they are located in each of India’s 671 districts through franchising. The industry employed 12,500 people at its peak. Now, it only boasts 998 workers.
It’s not such a surprise, given that even the basic postal service is struggling in the US amid the rise of computers and telephones. India might be a bit behind in that regard, but progress is progress.
The last telegram in the U.S. was sent by Western Union in 2006, 150 years after the company was first founded.
Samuel Morse’s first telegram read “WHAT HATH GOD WROUGHT?” and was sent from the US Supreme Court.
What do you think the world’s last telegram will say?
[Image via: Mike Peel]