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10/02/2006

Telegram becomes extinct in US

Like the zoologists who found a lost world in Papua this week, stock full of species they thought were extinct and some new ones to boot , I was shocked to learn that telegrams were still being used in 2006. According to Wired magazine the last telegram in the US was sent this week. Last year 20,000 of them were sent - what were they saying? Well last we we know:

...the last 10 telegrams included birthday wishes, condolences on the death of a loved one, notification of an emergency and several people trying to be the last to send a telegram.

Like the print revolution before it (see Open passim), trendwatchers and commentators watching the unfolding of the new communications / media revolution would do well to study the history of the telegraph ("only" 150 years old, may I remind you):

Samuel Morse, inventor of the Morse code, sent the first telegram from Washington to Baltimore on May 26, 1844, to his partner Alfred Vail to usher in the telegram era that displaced the Pony Express. It read "WHAT HATH GOD WROUGHT?"

Shock of the new, the mind-boggling possibilities, the fear of the unknown - we've been here before.

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