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In India, the Dot Dash Is Done

timothy posted about a year ago | from the clackity-clackity-dot-dot-dot dept.

Communications 86

cold fjord writes that, as promised last month, telegraph service in India is being honorably retired: "Only 7 years behind the US. From Forbes: '... in India, where I'm now sojourning, telegraph service has survived as a basic means of communication since the British East India Company sent the first telegram from Calcutta to nearby Diamond Harbor in 1850... As of July 15, the state company that runs the telegraph service is shutting it down. ... "For long, the telegraph was eyed with suspicion as an emblem of imperial rule," editorialized The Indian Express ... "Yet it brought various parts of the country together and eventually entered the traffic of everyday life. When the telegraph winds up, one of the oldest markers of a modern India will be lost. Stop" — the word that typically ended brief telegraphic phrases rather than periods. Until fairly recently, several hundred thousand messages a day moved over the wires of the telegraph system ...' From NBC: 'When it was completed in 1856, the Indian telegraph stretched over 4,000 miles ... Tom Standage, author of "The Victorian Internet" writes, the early telegraph networks were responsible for "hype, skepticism, hackers, on-line romances and weddings, chat-rooms, flame wars, information overload, predictions of imminent world peace."'"

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Chat rooms? (5, Funny)

SeaFox (739806) | about a year ago | (#44281959)

I'd like to know how a chat room worked on a telegraph.

Re:Chat rooms? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44281989)

like this. STOP

Probably poetry was possible (5, Funny)

tanveer1979 (530624) | about a year ago | (#44282003)

   <  >  !   *  '  '  #
     Waka waka bang splat tick tick hash,

    ^  "    `    $   $  -
     Caret quote back-tick dollar dollar dash,

    !  *  =  @  $    _
     Bang splat equal at dollar under-score,

    %   *   <  >  ~   #   4
     Percent splat waka waka tilde number four,

     &     [    ]   . /
     Ampersand bracket bracket dot dot slash,

     |       {      ,    ,   SYSTEM HALTED
     Vertical-bar curly-bracket comma comma CRASH.

http://poetry.about.com/od/poetryplay/l/blwakawaka.htm

Re:Probably poetry was possible (5, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about a year ago | (#44282113)

Waka waka bang splat tick tick hash, Caret quote back-tick dollar dollar dash, Bang splat equal at dollar under-score, Percent splat waka waka tilde number four, Ampersand bracket bracket dot dot slash, Vertical-bar curly-bracket comma comma CRASH.

Strange . . . that sounds like my upper management, talking about how we need to "tap into the power of social networks with modeling and visualization".

Re:Probably poetry was possible (2)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#44282615)

I'd like to see Shakira give a rendition of that. Maybe call it Waka Waka [youtube.com] This Time for India.

Re:Probably poetry was possible (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a year ago | (#44283509)

I'd like to see Shakira

Yes.

Damn that idiot Columbus (2)

Thud457 (234763) | about a year ago | (#44283667)

is this dot Indian or dash Indian we're talking about?

Re:Probably poetry was possible (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about a year ago | (#44287167)

Those curly brackets don't lie.

Re:Probably poetry was possible (1)

RenderSeven (938535) | about a year ago | (#44284479)

Well, social networks are a paradigm shift of the new economy cloud event horizon mindshare.

Re:Probably poetry was possible (0)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year ago | (#44284859)

That's best American poetry I have ever heard.

Re:Chat rooms? (5, Interesting)

Ozoner (1406169) | about a year ago | (#44282065)

> I'd like to know how a chat room worked on a telegraph.

On most Telegraph lines there were many operators spaced at intervals along the line and its branch lines.
So when there was no traffic to send, the bored operators would chat.

And of course there were many amateur telegraph circuits, some connecting dozens of enthusiasts in a town or suburb.

And then of course Amateur Radio came along.

Re:Chat rooms? (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | about a year ago | (#44282101)

And now we have IRC. And twitter. And facebook.

And suddenly, it starts to look like we've regressed :D

Re:Chat rooms? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44282193)

HAAHHAHAHA (s)he said "suburb" :D

erm... what?

Re:Chat rooms? (4, Informative)

vikingpower (768921) | about a year ago | (#44282371)

Can confirm this from experience with military telex and morse operation networks on ssb shortwave. Chat, chat, chat 'til you drop dead, just in order not to drop dead from boredom.

Re:Chat rooms? (1)

91degrees (207121) | about a year ago | (#44282441)

Telegraph network forums?

I believe dashdot.og was very big in the 1890's. Although the "ADELINA PATTI NAKED AND PETRIFIED STOP" troll posts were rather tiresome.

Re:Chat rooms? (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#44282579)

Yes, but hot grits never went out of style, surviving to the modern age. Of course of late they both seem to be challenged by mycleanpc, the modern equivalent of the old mycleanbuggy.

Re:Chat rooms? (1)

oPless (63249) | about a year ago | (#44282701)

Have you a hosts file to prove that?

Re:Chat rooms? (1)

gmhowell (26755) | about a year ago | (#44291387)

Have you a hosts file to prove that?

Last one I had set us up the bomb.

Re:Chat rooms? (1)

oPless (63249) | 1 year,22 days | (#44410779)

For Great Justice?

Re:Chat rooms? (3, Interesting)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#44282675)

I'd like to know how a chat room worked on a telegraph.

I'd like to know what the flame wars were about.

Re:WTF ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44282893)

India gives in to Slashdot to drop morse code. Now thousands more could post and avoid the "too many junk characters" message.

Re:Chat rooms? (4, Interesting)

crackspackle (759472) | about a year ago | (#44283933)

For an interesting take on why the telegraph led in part to the modern computer and how both work, read Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software" [amazon.com] by Charles Petzold. He argues all the ideas needed to build a modern computer were known around the time telegraph use took off, and he uses those ideas to describe logic gates and put them together into a working computer.

In short, the relay was invented in 1835 as a way to extend telegraph runs further without requiring operators. Morse code, as the primary way to communicate, happened to also be a binary code that mapped letters to the equivalent of ones and zeros, dots and dashes. In 1854, George Boole published “An Investigation of the Laws of Thought”. Petzold stops there and essentially uses only those ideas to build his modern computer. It wasn’t recognized formally by anyone until 1937 when Claude Shannon published “A Symbolic Analysis of Relay and Switching Circuits”. Even Charles Babbage had known of Boole’s work and the telegraph but did not see how it could have been better used to build his Difference Engine.

Cellphones killed the Telegram (5, Informative)

Frankie70 (803801) | about a year ago | (#44282027)

Landline penetration was never good in India.

Hence telegrams were used by people who wanted to contact people without telephones urgently.

Also telegrams were common during weddings even upto 10 years ago. People who were in cities other than were the couple were getting married typically sent their best wishes to the address given in the wedding card because people won't be at home on that day to pick up the telephone. And telegrams had 20-25 numeric codes for standard messages which made it cheap to send telegrams. If the message you wanted to send was one of the standard 20-25 messages you just send the number as the telegram rather than the message. The receiving telegram office would convert it back to the full message before delivering.

Cell phones essentially killed both of the above scenarios. And cell phone in India is massive as compared to land lines ever were.

Cell phone penetration (1, Funny)

Frankie70 (803801) | about a year ago | (#44282035)

And cell phone in India is massive as compared to land lines ever were.
 

Cellphone penetration in India, I meant - cellphones themselves are not so massive except for the Samsung phablets

Re:Cellphones killed the Telegram (0)

Vasudev Sharma (2914083) | about a year ago | (#44282095)

To add why the penetration was not so good. I remember in 1998 when the cellphone penetration was very low, the charges for mobile service were 36rs(~1$ back in 1998) for outgoing and maybe 16rs for incoming and landlines were 2rs outgoing, the charges for mobile service kept on dropping but never so much as to make it available easily for mass market, in 2003 Reliance-com entered the market with CDMA phone and overnight you had plans as low as 30p, this is when the real competition to the landlines started. Currently landlines rates are cheapest, you can have unlimited calls for 200rs (5$?), now what changed it. Well suddently the government organizations who had JOB security and reason not to work and were always profitable, saw a huge dent in their economics due to cellphone, it takes three days to get a new telephone, earlier it used to take three months (if you are lucky and they have not lost your application). Now if I analyse why the penetration was low, it was because they had JOB security, the same government organisation which should have worked had for the people and development of country was dozing their whole way, I am glad that these government sector services are being replaces with openmarket alternatives.

Re:Cellphones killed the Telegram (3, Informative)

ls671 (1122017) | about a year ago | (#44282363)

"the charges for mobile service were 36rs(~1$ back in 1998)"

And now you have to call to in Africa and a few other places to see high rates close to that:

5321,Cuba - Guantanamo,0.7696$/minute
22176,Senegal - Tigo Mobile,0.6748$/minute
24105,Gabon - Moov Mobile,0.5238$/minute
252225,Somalia - Soltelco,0.5500$/minute
25778,Burundi - Africel Mobile,0.4460$/minute
56322100,Chile - Easter Island,0.4600$/minute
2207,Gambia - Africell Mobile,0.4164$/minute
22469,Guinea - Areeba Mobile,0.4028$/minute

India indeed got a lot cheaper:
917579,India - Bsnl Mobile,0.0134$/minute
9182310,India - Mobile,0.0122$/minute

Re:Cellphones killed the Telegram (2)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about a year ago | (#44282907)

77 cents a minute is still pretty cheap, relatively. International long distance used to be $2/3 per minute, easily. I used to work for a long distance company monitoring their network. The highest cost I ever saw to land locations were distant Pacific islands at $5 per minute. The most expensive ever were ships at sea (Inmarsat) for $6/minute. I called one of them and it was the bridge of an aircraft carrier!

Re:Cellphones killed the Telegram (1)

Vasudev Sharma (2914083) | about a year ago | (#44282947)

[snip] CDMA phone and overnight you had plans as low as 30p [/snip]

Re:Cellphones killed the Telegram (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44282415)

Not that they (the ex government monopolies) are doing a good job even now, with competition. BSNL has privatized, but dealing with them is still like pulling teeth. Their 'unlimited DSL plans' actually had limits of 4GB, with DSL getting disabled every 1GB. Dealing with their customer service and doing simple things like paying bills is still a nightmare - standing in long queues, and to do online payment, the registration site was something one could not get to without going to their office and getting routed from officer to officer until you got to somebody. The bureaucracies that they had are still largely intact. I replaced BSNL with MTS as far as internet service goes more than a month ago, but have yet to see that reflected in the bill, or their personnel come to collect their modem

Why do we persist with them, you may ask? My parents - my dad doesn't want to change his land line phone number even though he hardly uses it. Hence, until recently, dealing with them was a nightmare. Personally, I use an Airtel connection, my mom has a Vodafone, my sister Reliance and so on. Dealing with Airtel, by contrast, and even MTS, is a walk in the park.

However, back on topic. One thing I'm glad is that India is at least on sync with the US, even if lagging by 7 years. This year, India finally switched everything to digital TV: despite local politicians getting it pushed out quarter to quarter, the thing that enabled it was almost all media providers yanking all their content from analog channels, making it worthless for anybody who's just been running extra cable lines to other hice. Airtel currently offers 4G only for wireless USB modems: hopefully, 4G phone services will be next and will be available for all the major carriers.

Re:Cellphones killed the Telegram (1)

segin (883667) | about a year ago | (#44282665)

I've got to ask, does not India have local number portability [wikipedia.org] ? The article mentions mobile number portability, but clearly your dad wants to hang onto a landline number, not a mobile number.

Re:Cellphones killed the Telegram (3, Informative)

Frankie70 (803801) | about a year ago | (#44284091)

In India and most countries outside of the USA, landline numbers and mobile numbers have a different format

Landline numbers = Area Code + Number
Cell Numbers = one long 10 digit number (there is no area code)

Because of this, there cannot be portability between landline and Cell numbers.

Re:Cellphones killed the Telegram (2)

tomtomtom (580791) | about a year ago | (#44286257)

In India and most countries outside of the USA, landline numbers and mobile numbers have a different format

Landline numbers = Area Code + Number Cell Numbers = one long 10 digit number (there is no area code)

Because of this, there cannot be portability between landline and Cell numbers.

One of the big reasons for this is that outside the USA, generally people do not pay to receive calls on mobile phones; the caller pays a higher cost to call a mobile number than a landline instead (at least in theory, although inclusive minutes deals make this increasingly not the case for either the USA or rest of world). One of the principles that seems to be broadly applied in the numbering systems used in most countries is that you should be able to tell whether a number is an "expensive" one or not by looking at the prefix. Allowing higher cost for calls to mobiles would break this principle (it also makes sense logically, since mobiles are non-geographical so giving them a geographical prefix is a bit weird).

Re:Cellphones killed the Telegram (1)

Pentium100 (1240090) | about a year ago | (#44287425)

Yea, this also was a problem for a short while after the government of my country decided that people should be able to take their cell phone number to another provider (to encourage competition). You could no longer tell whether the number you are calling belongs to "your" provider (cheaper) or not. This was solved - now when you call a number that does not belong to "your" provider, you hear two short beeps before the waiting signal.

Re:Cellphones killed the Telegram (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44308241)

"Cell Numbers = one long 10 digit number (there is no area code)"
Not so in Australia. All mobile phone numbers begin with "04" - this is the "area code" for a mobile number. The next two number nominally denote the carrier, although number portability makes that not always the case.

Calls to the same network are usually cheaper, so it's the same reasoning as you said.

Re:Cellphones killed the Telegram (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44285467)

In India, mobile numbers are portable between carriers; landline numbers are not. As Frankie pointed out, they have different formats.

Re:Cellphones killed the Telegram (2)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about a year ago | (#44282609)

Landline penetration was low because it is expensive to run cables. In the 1990s I visited a company who were making fixed phones for houses in Chile. These were big analogue mobiles and dirt cheap compared to stringing cables through the mountains.

Re:Cellphones killed the Telegram (4, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#44282707)

Landline penetration was low because it is expensive to run cables. In the 1990s I visited a company who were making fixed phones for houses in Chile. These were big analogue mobiles and dirt cheap compared to stringing cables through the mountains.

It's not just for the sticks and/or brutal terrain anymore: Verizon [verizon.com] is looking to move a bunch of Hurricane Sandy-damaged landline customers to 'Verizon Voicelink', essentially a tethered cellular-to-copper bridge. Whether this is a statement on the economics of copper/fiber buildout, or an end-run around the regulations affecting wireline POTS service is a matter of some contention...

Re:Cellphones killed the Telegram (1)

operagost (62405) | about a year ago | (#44284733)

Not a Verizon fan, but as long as there is still copper to the premises the POTS regulations still apply.

Re:Cellphones killed the Telegram (3, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#44284905)

That is the root of the suspicion that Verizon has reasons other than repair costs to not re-run the lines that were cut by the hurricane, to ensure that the area has no copper to any premises, and that whether your phone looks like a landline or not, you are at the tender mercy of Verizon Wireless.

Re:Cellphones killed the Telegram (4, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#44282637)

It probably doesn't help(for the survival of telegraphs) that cellphones encheapen exactly the same part of the process that is most expensive with telegram service.

Unless you want telegram service to be about as useful as media mail, in terms of timeliness, you need a pretty aggressive short-haul postal service running out of the telegraph office. Technology presumably reduced the price of transmission links between offices(at least in places where it was worth upgrading, rather than just milking the legacy copper); but you still have to collect the text on one end, and have somebody run out and deliver it on the other. Even with arbitrarily cheap data transmission, you've still got a postal service hanging off all your endpoints.

With cellphones, the technology and bandwidth requirements are higher; but now the messages deliver themselves from the sender to the tower and from the tower to the recipient.

sort of a dupe.. (0)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#44282045)

..and also, the telegram was pretty much just the name for a messaging service that transferred the messages electronically for some amount of distance and got delivered at the other end..

Re:sort of a dupe.. (1)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about a year ago | (#44282397)

..and also, the telegram was pretty much just the name for a messaging service that transferred the messages electronically for some amount of distance and got delivered at the other end..

..which is what telegram has always been about?, unless you're a stock exchange or government or military headquarter etc. and have a telegraph line running to your building.

DEAR TIMOTHY (1)

PPH (736903) | about a year ago | (#44284361)

STOP

one way to catch dudes is Google (1)

Trax3001BBS (2368736) | about a year ago | (#44282055)

like:
telegraph service site:slashdot.org

Re:one way to catch dudes is Google (4, Funny)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#44282171)

one way to catch dudes is Google

Your lifestyle is none of my business, but this isn't the place.

Re:one way to catch dudes is Google (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#44282627)

Telegraph, telephone, cell phone, internet, people's interests never really change, just the medium.

Almost had a typo. That last bit almost was: "just he medium." Oddly appropriate.

Re:one way to catch dudes is Google (2)

Trax3001BBS (2368736) | about a year ago | (#44282865)

one way to catch dudes is Google

Your lifestyle is none of my business, but this isn't the place.

Darn! Got the P 180 degrees off.

The es was meant, I had to really look at it till I saw the error, I LOL myself.

Re:one way to catch dudes is Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44283083)

"pudes"?

what's a pude?

Re:one way to catch dudes is Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44286961)

It's like a dude, only after... you know...

Re:one way to catch dudes is Google (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#44283099)

one way to catch dudes is Google

Your lifestyle is none of my business, but this isn't the place.

Are you kidding? What could be more of a sausage party than slashdot? Gay-sausage-party dot com?

Re:one way to catch dudes is Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44288673)

Cum on now. Dylsexia is no laughing matter.

Is Slashdot (1, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | about a year ago | (#44282083)

what you get when you telegraph while drunk?

Re:Is Slashdot (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#44282663)

I think they called them drunkgrams. Sort of equivalent to the current practice of drunk blogging.

Hmmm... apropos the title (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year ago | (#44282089)

A good tld: .–.
http:///.– looks quite tasty.

Re:Hmmm... apropos the title (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#44282561)

Close, but I think what you really want is: http://-.
.
Or maybe, http://dashdot.org/ [dashdot.org]

Re:Hmmm... apropos the title (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44282725)

Close, but I think what you really want is: http://-.

Naw, http:///..– (slashdot dot dash)

Re:Hmmm... apropos the title (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44285209)

I didn't know slashdot had a RTTY interface. Is that just the RSS feed?

I sent a telegram once (0, Offtopic)

symbolset (646467) | about a year ago | (#44282091)

It arrived. I'm glad I got to have the experience before it died. One of many lost technology experiences.

Re:I sent a telegram once (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#44282563)

There is speculation in the press that many Indians will be doing the same.

Re:I sent a telegram once (2)

unixisc (2429386) | about a year ago | (#44285637)

On the last day of the service, there indeed was [foxnews.com] .

Hundreds of people thronged the 75 telegraph offices remaining in the country to send their last telegrams to friends or family as a keepsake.

Some BSNL employees suggested that had the activity throughout the year been that high, the service would probably not have been ended.

A telegram is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44282107)

irrelevant anymore. Use Cellphones instead ! : New Cellphone technology [youtube.com]

Mish mash (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year ago | (#44282135)

Is slashdot reporting the dot-com-like flash crash of dot dash from lack of cash?

what dot dash (4, Informative)

ewanm89 (1052822) | about a year ago | (#44282157)

This wasn't using Morse, in fact outside amateur radio, Morse hasn't really been used for several decades now. Until 2010 this would have been using teletype printers, likely using baudot or Murray code, neither of which use a dash even if one-off keyed. In 2010 the. Company in India upgraded.to a 'web based system's, according to Wikipedia.

Re:what dot dash (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44282267)

There is loads of misinformation going around on this topic.
It was also claimed that this was the world's last telegram service to shut down, and this is not true at all.
Many telegram services are still operating, also in India.
Poor research, I would say.

Re:what dot dash (3, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#44282727)

I haven't been able to figure out where the story got its legs. It is true that 'The' telegram service, the one with organizational continuity back to the original system set up to handle the logistical needs of Her Britannic Majesty's colonial occupation efforts, is shutting down. Game over, goodbye.

However, since virtually any data transmission mechanism will serve as a telegraph medium(they aren't exactly high-bandwidth or anything), there isn't much stopping other outfits from hanging out a shingle and offering telegram services, as some have.

Does anybody know if the state-run service that is shutting down had some sort of special status for legal purposes(the way the US Postal Service's offerings sometimes count for legal or procedural purposes where fedex or UPS might not)?

Re:what dot dash (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44282787)

Telegrams sent via the state-run service did count as legal correspondence.

Re:what dot dash (2)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about a year ago | (#44282617)

This wasn't using Morse, in fact outside amateur radio, Morse hasn't really been used for several decades now.

I am pretty sure it is still used in aviation to identify beacons.

Stop. (1)

Hypotensive (2836435) | about a year ago | (#44282197)

the word that typically ended brief telegraphic phrases rather than periods

It is a period. This is like saying that people used a dash instead of a hyphen.

Re:Stop. (4, Informative)

Chrisq (894406) | about a year ago | (#44282295)

the word that typically ended brief telegraphic phrases rather than periods

It is a period. This is like saying that people used a dash instead of a hyphen.

Though a stop and a period are the same, a dash is not a hyphen [wikipedia.org] :

The hyphen () is a punctuation mark used to join words and to separate syllables of a single word. The use of hyphens is called hyphenation. The hyphen should not be confused with dashes ( –, — ), which are longer and have different uses, or with the minus sign, which is also longer.

Re: Stop. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44282607)

You're confusing an em-dash with an en-dash.

Re:Stop. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44290379)

the word that typically ended brief telegraphic phrases rather than periods

It is a period.

I think you have misunderstood. The word 'stop' would be used to end a sentence in a telegram rather than a punctuation character. 'Stop' is short for 'full stop' which is the name of the punctuation character in most variants of English outside of North America, where the word 'period' is used instead.

This is like saying that people used a dash instead of a hyphen.

No - it's like spelling out the word 'dash' instead of using a dash punctuation character.

yuo F4i7 It? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44282315)

with the Fnumbe8 And she ran

Multiple hops in a telegram ? (0)

ProgramErgoSum (1342017) | about a year ago | (#44282419)

How was the wiring done to ensure that just with a pair of PIN (or ZIP) codes the telegram arrived at its destination ? Was there some sort of DNS servers ?

Re:Multiple hops in a telegram ? (3, Interesting)

quetwo (1203948) | about a year ago | (#44282813)

Telegrams were prefixed with a routing number (telex number), similar to a phone number, and name. The telex number was usually the number of the receiving office... Most telegram systems used worldwide employed a "store and forward" type of system where they would get the telegram from the originating office, wait for the the trunks to be open to the larger offices that consolidated multiple regions together, and then sometimes sent it to the larger office via other trunks. Then the process would reverse sending the message down trunks as they opened up to the smaller offices.

Of course, most of this became moot when the old copper lines were decommissioned in most countries in the late 1990's and early 2000's. The US and most of Europe switched to routing the telex messages over the internet. Many countries quickly moved to the same platform after. I don't think anything lives in Western's telecommunication office on 60 Hudson in NYC anymore..

My dad was a "combined" hand. (5, Interesting)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about a year ago | (#44282955)

Combined hand is the term used by Indian Posts & Telegraph Department to describe postal workers certified in morse code. He got his certificate in Chennai in 1957 or so. Most common telegraph traffic was rural merchants exchanging price information and harvest forecasts with district and state commercial centers. Usually in the evening and usually obfuscated in terms unique to each trading family.

But out side business most common people got telegrams bearing death notices. India is a very hot country and usually bodies are cremated within 24 hours. Certain religious ritual need a certain relatives to be present at the cremation. Usually the wife's family (whether the husband dies or the wife) plays an important roles in the rites and the property settlements that follows soon after. Husband's brothers would usually be in the same village, but again sometimes they need to be sent for. Sons/daughters also need to be sent out for urgently. It is not uncommon to actually send messengers out for very important relatives. So for most common people only death notices are important enough to use the expensive, so many rupees per word, messages.

Middle class folks would also send congratulatory telegrams for weddings they could not attend. The custom again requires certain relatives must be present for weddings, but if they could not be, spending money to send telegrams carries the subtext, "sorry I could not attend, see I am spending expensive telegram, so it shows that I value the relationship a lot, I beg forgiveness for being able to attend". I have heard of people sending double telegrams.

In a PGWodehouse novel Betram Wooster and his aunt Dhalia exchange some 10 telegrams or so in one afternoon. I found that to be a lot more hilarious than most other people because my prior notions about what a telegram signifies.

Once the commercial messages went to SMS basically the market disappeared for telegrams.

Typical message? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44283189)

Kindly do the needful. STOP. Warmest regards. STOP

All of that AND world peace? (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about a year ago | (#44283309)

hype, skepticism, hackers, on-line romances and weddings, chat-rooms, flame wars, information overload, predictions of imminent world peace.

The internet is only capable of the first seven items in that list.

A telegraph service, not ALL telegraph service (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44283683)

There is still telegraph service in India. It's just the state run provider shutting down.

Source [arstechnica.com]

Telex Machines... (5, Informative)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about a year ago | (#44283873)

A century ago telegrams were sent using morse, but in the last 80 years or so, a 'telegram' doesn't / didn't mean 'morse code.'

When Roger O. Thornhill sends a telegram in North by Northwest it would have gone by telex machine. The 'Congratulations!' telegrams we sent and received in my youth were sent by telex.

...same deal in India. Telex, not morse

http://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/800px-Telex_machine_ASR-32-640x426.jpg [arstechnica.net]

Re:Telex Machines... (4, Interesting)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about a year ago | (#44285317)

Probably in USA. In India regular dot-dash telegraph was operational well into the 1970s. I have visited post offices with my dad and been "shocked" by the telegraph equipment. There key-hammer instruments were not insulated and if you touch it you will get a shock. The voltage is not as high 110V but high enough to feel the tingling and make muscles twitch but not painful. I don't know the actual voltage used. I remember the telex machines being introduced to state capitals in 1970s. I have seen the telegrams telegrams written by the hand of the operator in pencil. Telex messages will have lines and line of tape cut and paste literally on to the same form.

Re:Telex Machines... (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about a year ago | (#44287433)

did a web search on BSNL, the images suggest they went to networked PC for telegrams long ago, no more "Sparky working the key"

Re:Telex Machines... (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about a year ago | (#44290329)

BSNL is very very recent. It was established in just 2000. The Indian Posts & Telegraph Department dates back to days of British Raj. I still remember by sixth grade Indian History. Emperor Sher Shah Suri (1540) introduced mail service based on horses to India. Take look at the history of the post office in India: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Postal_Service [wikipedia.org]

Re:Telex Machines... (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about a year ago | (#44290869)

as a corporation is it recent, however it used to be known as your Department of Telecommunications

Re:Telex Machines... (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about a year ago | (#44296115)

Let us start all over again. The thread started with the statement: " but in the last 80 years or so, a 'telegram' doesn't / didn't mean 'morse code.' ". The entire concept of PC is about 30 years old. (IBM PC - 1981). PCs did not get network support in USA till about 1990s. Saying "BSNL website says it switched to networked PCs to support telegrams, long ago. This shows Morse code has not been used for 80 years" is wrong.

When was Morse code discontinued in India for telegrams? Once telephone networks became widespread, most county (or taluq in Indian parlance) level post offices started using telephone to replace Morse code. Still the same message passing network. But instead of Morse code the operators would call the upstream or downstream node and speak the messages on phone. But for villages (branch post office) the connection to their upstream node (sub post office) was usually through telegraph and Morse code. Cheap equipment and ultra reliability were its strength. If monsoon rains wash away a stretch of telegraph poles, these branch masters would simply cross the river/run/brook/rill/nallah/arroyo/stream/creek/whatever, grab the severed wire with a piece of cloth, usually their turban or waist cloth, touch it to the metal pole and start sending and receiving messages!. I vaguely recall my dad talking about the telephone replacing telegraph while he was still in service. May be in the late 1980s. Sections of Indian telegraph network were on Morse code almost till the day they all went out of service.

NSarse (2)

Korruptionen (2647747) | about a year ago | (#44287319)

There's one guy at the NSA that just got his world crushed... because this was his job. Spying on telegraph systems. Poor guy.

Coming up next (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44308155)

I look forward to the post in a month, about "one month ago, India retired the telegraph service".

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