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View Full Version : when did telegram services end in the western world?


FuzzyOgre
01-14-2011, 09:07 PM
Mom and dad got one from my aunt(who was in Australia) in time for their wedding day. That was 1970.

Would the post office have handed that, or some other outlet? And when did services stop, particularly in Canada?

SpoilerVirgin
01-14-2011, 09:18 PM
According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telegram)In Canada, Telegrams Canada (http://www.telegrams.ca/) still offers telegram services. AT&T Canada had discontinued its telegram service in 2001 and later became MTS Allstream.The Wikipedia article contains information on telegraph status in many countries. Western Union, the primary U.S. provider, discontinued service in 2006, although there are still independent U.S. telegraph services.

FuzzyOgre
01-14-2011, 09:20 PM
Well duh. Why didnt I think to check wikipedia?

Still offered? That is amazing isnt it?

clairobscur
01-14-2011, 09:21 PM
France :

The last telegramm I saw brought in by a postman immediately after reception, late in the evening, was in 1978 or 1979 (Announcing the death of a relative. As far as I can tell, almost all telegramms sent/received by regular people when I was a kid were announcing deaths. Don't know if this was peculiar to France).

Around 1985, we called to send a telegramm to somebody (his phone wasn't working and we needed to confirm the time of a meeting), and were told that tough the telegramm service still existed, they were just given the following day with the regular mail.

So, the telegramm service as we think of it (you send a telegramm and someone goes to deliver it immediately to the recipient) was discontinued in France in between, hence around 1980.

SpoilerVirgin
01-14-2011, 09:25 PM
It's pretty much a specialty service now, on the order of sending a candygram or singing telegram. The major services were all discontinued once email took off. I loved the story of the final ship-to-shore telegram in the U.S. It was sent from the Jeremiah O'Brien, a memorial ship docked in San Francisco, to President Clinton. The sign off message was "What hath God wrought?" a repeat of Samuel Morse's first message.

Peremensoe
01-14-2011, 09:40 PM
Around 1985, we called to send a telegramm to somebody (his phone wasn't working and we needed to confirm the time of a meeting), and were told that tough the telegramm service still existed, they were just given the following day with the regular mail.

So, the telegramm service as we think of it (you send a telegramm and someone goes to deliver it immediately to the recipient) was discontinued in France in between, hence around 1980.

My understanding is that telegram operators in days gone by didn't immediately rush out with each individual message. They made rounds based on the geography of their area and the volume of their communications, not really unlike postal service. Before telephony, both postal and telegram carriers might make multiple rounds in a single day, but neither of them typically carried single communications out of their offices.

Your 1985 recipient would still have received that message faster that way than any other low-cost way you could have reached him, right?

Desert Nomad
01-14-2011, 09:46 PM
I sent a telegram from Samarkand, Uzbekistan to Nevada in 1998. It arrived within a few days but I had to write it using Cyrillic letters and it was printed in Latin letters so a lot of the words were mangled.

Spoons
01-15-2011, 04:16 AM
And when did services stop, particularly in Canada?In Canada, it looks like this occurred in 1980. CNCP Telecommunications handled general, run-of-the-mill telegrams until then, when it became a telecom company. See the Wikipedia entry (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CNCP_Telecommunications) on CNCP for more information.

Telegrams Canada looks to be more like a special occasion service: weddings, funerals, and so on. CNCP offered an inexpensive (compared to the long-distance telephone) but quick way to keep in touch for more mundane things: telling somebody when somebody else would arrive on the train, for example; or to make reservations at a hotel. Long distance phone calls were expensive; telegrams were much cheaper.

Siam Sam
01-15-2011, 04:18 AM
Thailand ended its telegram service just a couple of years ago. I recall sending a telegram to my father in Texas from here in the mid-1990s.

campp
01-15-2011, 06:44 AM
I sent a telegram to my girlfriend in 1976. She lived four doors away. Did it for a gag, but even then it cost me $15.

Dunkelheit
01-15-2011, 07:26 AM
France :

The last telegramm I saw brought in by a postman immediately after reception, late in the evening, was in 1978 or 1979 (Announcing the death of a relative. As far as I can tell, almost all telegramms sent/received by regular people when I was a kid were announcing deaths. Don't know if this was peculiar to France).


Probably pretty common, at least it was in stories and histories I've read. It's one of the few bits of news (severe illness would have been another one) so urgent it needed to be sent instantaneously in the pre-internet era, and before everybody had phones and long-distance lines, though I imagine by 1978 they were fairly common, in America at least, dunno about France.

I had a friend who sent another friend a telegram in the 80s that said "Ever had a telegram? I bet you haven't. Can't say that anymore!" He was a bit of a goof. ;-)

IvoryTowerDenizen
01-15-2011, 07:29 AM
Well duh. Why didnt I think to check wikipedia?

Still offered? That is amazing isnt it?

I received a telegram in the US on my wedding day in 1994.

Al Bundy
01-15-2011, 09:21 AM
I sent a telegram to my girlfriend in 1976. She lived four doors away. Did it for a gag, but even then it cost me $15.

You could have found a gag and duct tape much cheaper than $15. (LOL)

Wakinyan
01-15-2011, 09:22 AM
Googling this in Sweden, the Swedish equivalent to USPS seemed to have offered this service even in 2005 (judging from a forum discussion I stumbled upon), but as far as I can see they do no today. However, there are business corporations who offer this service. "Nothing beats the excitement of receiving a real telegram", they say (for weddings and such, presumably). They are delivered the same day.

elbows
01-15-2011, 10:43 AM
I sent a telegram in 1983, from Alaska to Singapore, saying that as the plane was 10 hrs late leaving San Fran, I would miss the Hong Kong - Singapore connection, don't head to the airport!

I remember it because I had to do it over the phone and had to buy a couple of rolls of US quarters to pay for it. Bought more coins than I needed, as it turned out, and was bummed when I could not change them back to currency at any money changers, once in Asia. Carried a roll and a half around with me for 6 months! Though they did make handy checkers!