The last telegram
- URL to an article that appeared in MSNBC
The end of an era
First few paragraphs
DENVER - For more than 150 years, messages of joy, sorrow and success came
in signature yellow envelopes hand-delivered by a courier. Now the Western
Union telegram is officially a thing of the past.
The company formed in April 1856 to exploit the hot technology of the
telegraph to send cross-country messages in less than a day. It is now focusing its
attention on money transfers and other financial services, and delivered its
final telegram on Friday.
“The decision was a hard decision because we’re fully aware of our heritage,
” said Victor Chayet, a spokesman for the Greenwood Village, Colo.-based
company. “But it’s the final transition from a communications company to a
financial services company.”
Several telegraph companies that eventually combined to become Western Union
were founded in 1851. Western Union built its first transcontinental
telegraph line in 1861.
“At the time it was as incredible and astonishing as the computer when it
first came out,” said Tom Noel, a history professor at the University of
Colorado at Denver. “For people who could barely understand it, here you had the
magic of the electric force traveling by wire across the country.”
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