Telegram Service Ends STOPThe Western Union telegram is officially a thing of the past.
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?"
The company formed in April 1856 to exploit the hot technology of the telegraph to send cross-country messages in less than a day.
Several telegraph companies eventually combined to become Western Union. Western Union built its first transcontinental telegraph line in 1861.
Telegrams reached their peak popularity in the 1920s and 1930s when it was cheaper to send a telegram than to place a long distance telephone call. People would save money by using the word "stop" instead of periods to end sentences because punctuation was extra while the four character word was free.
During World War II, the sight of a Western Union courier was feared because the War Department, the precursor to the Department of Defense, used the company to notify families of the death of their loved ones serving in the military.
By last year, only 20,000 telegrams were sent at about $10 a message, mostly from companies using the service for formal notifications, Chayet said.
Last week, 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.
Western Union -STOP- Ends Telegram Service | Chron.com - Houston Chronicle