Wednesday, February 08, 2006

TECH | Telegram: Sent for the last time!

One of the first signs of email replacing the 'traditional' forms of communications became apparent this week as Western Union decided to cancel its Telegram service in the US. Western Union, now more known for their long-distance money transfers, started out as a telegram delivery company in the US in 1856.

Utilizing what was state-of-the-art technology using telegraph wire, the number of telegrams inside the US would peak at 20 million a year, some 80 years ago, slowly decreasing with the widespread use of telephones.

A few decades ago fax machines hit telegrams hard, but the simple fact that people didn't typically have a fax machine at home meant that there would still be a need for the traditional telegram/telex.

But a decade of email use in the US has brought the life of the telegram to an end. In 2005, there were only 20,000 telegrams sent across the US, presumably by senior citizens who don't use email!Actually, and this is an ironic fact, many of the telegram wordings were sent by email to Western Union, who then put them on a telegram.

Strange, but true.Another reason for the demise of the telegram is that it costs $10, whereas an email is free. However, the telegram provides a 'guarantee of delivery' and stood as legal notice if required. Email is nowadays acquiring some of those characteristics. One of the unwelcome things that may come with that is a fee.

Apparently, Yahoo and AOL have already taken steps in this direction, providing a 'premium email delivery service' for a fee. But, that's another story.

What's important is that the fate of the telegram is surely a sign of what will happen all over the world, including our country were to this day, for some reason, people send condolences everyday by telex.

Apparently, email is not considered a courteous form of condolences.In any case, this all raise the question whether or not this age we live in- with its email, Internet telephony, mobile text messaging and video conferencing kills- may spell the beginning of the end for 'snail mail'?

Not likely! Especially that the mail system's main role is evolving today into a mechanism for product delivery, rather than letter or greeting card delivery.

Think about it for a minute. How can technology replace the mail order of products?

If the product cannot be transferred into a digital format (such as books, music or films), then you'll still need the good old mail system to get it.In any case, technology could still surprise us all. But for now, the first victim is the telegram/telex, and then we'll see what's next.


At 1:43 PM , Blogger Isam Bayazidi said...

I read that news last week, and it was a surprise to me that there is such thing as telegram service that they provide. I wonder if Jordan Mail sill have such services..

Nevertheless, I think that it is not only email that is taking place of old text communication methods. SMS in our area and Europe have a major role. IM comes second in a lesser role. I see that for example my mother is very much up date with latest news about our relatives from all over the world by SMS messages (she doesn't use Internet or email).


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