Man is a social animal, and communication is his way of being social. People have the need to be constantly connected to each other. Facebook and Twitter are modern ways of communication, but the telegram revolutionized the way that we have communicated since years ago. People considered the telegram as the instant messenger of that era, as it was the fastest and most efficient way to communicate over long distances.
Just like Twitter has a character limit, telegrams also had a limit. That limit was not for technical, but economical reasons. Telegrams were deliberately kept short as they were charged based on the word count. People used abbreviations in telegrams, just like they use while chatting or sending messages today. Telegrams were short written messages sent over the electric telegraph wire. Telegraphy worked on the basis of electrical signals. They were entered from one end of the line using a telegraph key, and decoded by using another set of corresponding keys at the other end. The communication took place in Morse Code, which involved a series of dots and dashes. During wartime, the arrival of a telegram would often send people in a state of panic, as it often contained information regarding the death of a soldier. However, telegrams were not just used to convey bad news; they were used to bring good news like the birth of a baby or greetings during festivals.
The concept of the telegram was born in the early 1800s. Two men, one in America and one in England, were simultaneously but independently toying with the idea of an electric telegraph system. They were from an arts background, so they collaborated with people having knowledge about the science behind electric applications. The American Mr. Morse worked with Alfred Vail and developed a system which used electricity to draw a series of dots and dashes on a piece of paper. This language came to be known as the Morse Code, which when decrypted, revealed the intended message.
The 160 year old telegram service in India ended a few days ago. The central telegram office in Delhi witnessed a huge crowd, which had gathered to be a part of history, by sending the very last set of telegrams. Few enthusiasts had sent a telegram to themselves, as they wanted to treasure it as a memento. Here’s saluting the telegram – its an end of an era, and of a simpler time