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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The end of the telegram era

The world's last telegram message will be sent somewhere in India on July 14.

That missive will come 144 years after Samuel Morsesent the first telegram in Washington, and seven years after Western Union shuttered its services in the United States. …The BSNL board, after dilly-dallying for two years, decided to shut down the service as it was no longer commercially viable.

"We were incurring losses of over $23 million a year because SMS and smartphones have rendered this service redundant," Shamim Akhtar, general manager of BSNL's telegraph services, told the Monitor.

That’s from http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-South-Central/2013/0614/India-to-send-world-s-last-telegram.-Stop 

On May 24, 1844, Samuel Morse sent the telegraph message "What hath God wrought?" from the Supreme Court chamber in the Capitol in Washington, D.C., to the B & O Railroad Depot in Baltimore, Maryland.  The magnitude of this event is amply captured by sending it from the Supreme Court chamber – one can hardly imagine sending the first Twitter tweet from there.

The telegraph was the first time instant communication was possible and was truly revolutionary. Sure, the messages were in a cryptic code that needed skill to decide, but the increase in the speed of communication would eliminate anomalies like the Battle of New Orleans – the largest battle of the War of 1812, but fought after the truce had been agreed to by politicians far away.

My wife’s family is distantly related in some way to Samuel Morse, and my brother-in-law has “Morse” as a middle name (will he have to change it to “Tweet”?)

Morse was also a famous painter in his day, including Gallery of the Louvre, which I was lucky enough to see a few years ago.

File:Gallery of the Louvre 1831-33 Samuel Morse.jpg