x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

End of an era. Stop.

The rise of more immediate methods of communication have heralded the demise of the telegraph

An era ends on July 15, when an government-owned Indian telecom company will send the world's last telegram. Everywhere else, this method of communication has vanished already.

It's strange to think that the telegram was once a revolutionary way to conquer distance. The telegram was in its heyday the dominant medium of long-distance communication, for businesses, individuals, and governments.

Starting almost two centuries ago, telegrams - delivered by hand for the "last mile" of their journey, usually - brought news, often bad news, in concise form. A telegram boy on the doorstep was rarely welcome.

And yet telegrams brought people the whole world. Births in the family, as well as deaths, were communicated that way to distant relatives.

And telegrams carried a sense of both urgency and authenticity. Because they were costly, they were important - and often even more concise than today's Tweets. There were no spam telegrams.

Everything changes. The advent of telephones, and then email and Twitter, sent the telegram the way of buggy whips and butter churns. They will live on in history books and old films, to puzzle future children.