Email Kills Telegram STOP Few Notice STOP
The Western Union telegram (the singing one, too) is dead. And in case you thought sending telegrams was a means of communication that died with The Three Stooges, or was trapped in Technicolor with Bugs Bunny, you were mistaken. Until last week, Western Union was sending 55 telegrams a day on average.
Fifty-five a day, or around 20,000 per year, was a long fall from the company’s heyday in 1929, when over 200 million telegrams (not singing ones yet, though), or 550,000 a day made their way across the continent. In 2005, that number dropped to just 21,000.
Realizing the Internet and wireless communication had delivered its death throes, Western Union put to rest its 150-year-old service last Friday. In 30 words on its Website, the company whispered the obituary.
“Effective January 27, 2006, Western Union will discontinue all Telegram and Commercial Messaging services. We regret any inconvenience this may cause you, and we thank you for your loyal patronage.”
Messages delivered via telegraph wires, though, actually died in the 60’s, when the company began delivering transcontinental messages through microwave radio beams.
“It was a hard decision,” Western Union spokesman Colin Wheeler told Reuters. “It was so much a part of our legacy. But the Internet cut into the business.”
Wheeler said the move completed the Western Union’s transition from a communication business to a financial services business.
Another spokesman, Victor Chayet, told BBC News what most in Generation X and Xbox were thinking. “”Recent generations didn’t receive telegrams and didn’t know you could send them,” he said.
Indo-Asian news service Sify reports that the telegram is still used in many parts of the world. Swiss-based Unitell Telegram Services handles tens of thousands of telegrams per month in 44 countries.