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Telegraphy (from Greek: τῆλε , "at a distance" and γράφειν , "to write") is the long-distance transmission of textual or symbolic (as opposed to verbal or audio) messages without the physical exchange of an object bearing the message. Thus semaphore is a method of telegraphy, whereas pigeon post is not.

Telegraphy requires that the method used for encoding the message be known to both sender and receiver. Such methods are designed according to the limits of the signalling medium used. The use of smoke signals, beacons, reflected light signals, and flag semaphore signals are early examples. In the 19th century, the harnessing of electricity led to the invention of electrical telegraphy. The advent of radio in the early 20th century brought about radiotelegraphy and other forms of wireless telegraphy. In the Internet age, telegraphic means developed greatly in sophistication and ease of use, with natural language interfaces that hide the underlying code, allowing such technologies as electronic mail and instant messaging.

The word "telegraph" was first coined by the French inventor of the Semaphore line, Claude Chappe, who also coined the word "semaphore".

A "telegraph" is a device for transmitting and receiving messages over long distances, i.e., for telegraphy. The word "telegraph" alone now generally refers to an electrical telegraph.

Wireless telegraphy is also known as "CW", for continuous wave (a carrier modulated by on-off keying), as opposed to the earlier radio technique of using a spark gap.

Before Telegraphy, a letter by post from London took
days to reach
12 New York in USA
13 Alexandria in Egypt
19 Constantinople in Ottoman Turkey
33 Bombay in India
44 Calcutta in Bengal
45 Singapore
57 Shanghai in China
73 Sydney in Australia

  • . United States, 20 companies with 23,000 miles of wire.
  • . Great Britain, Cooke-Wheatstone company and minor companies, with 2200 miles of wire.
  • . Prussia, 1400 miles of wire, Siemens system.
  • . Austria, 1000 miles of wire, Siemens system.
  • . Canada, 900 miles of wire
  • . France, 700 miles of wire; optical systems dominant.
  • In Australia, Australia Post closed its telegram service on 7 March 2011. In the Victorian town of Beechworth, visitors can send telegrams to family members or friends from the Beechworth Telegraph Station.
  • In Bahrain, Batelco still offers telegram services. They are thought to be more formal than an email or a fax, but less so than a letter. So should a death or anything of importance occur, telegrams would be sent.
  • In Belgium, Belgacom still offers telegram services within the country and internationally. It sent 63.000 telegrams in 2010
  • In Canada, Telegrams Canada still offers telegram services. AT&T Canada (previously CNCP Telecommunications) had discontinued its telegram service in 2001 and later became MTS Allstream.
  • In France, Orange S.A. still offers a telegram service, although not transmitted by telegraph any more.
  • In Germany, Deutsche Post delivers telegrams the next day as ordinary mail. Deutsche Post discontinued service to foreign countries on 31 December 2000. A private firm,, offers delivery in Germany and service to a number of foreign countries.
  • In Hungary, Magyar Posta still offers (national only) telegram services.
  • In India, state-owned BSNL discontinued telegram services from 15 July 2013. Telegrams to foreign countries had been discontinued in May 2013.
  • In Iran, telex services are still provided by Telecommunication Infrastructure Company of I.R.Iran.
  • In Ireland, Eircom – the country's largest telecommunication company and former PTT – formally discontinued telegram service on 30 July 2002.
  • In Israel, the Israel Postal Company still offers telegram services. Telegrams may be sent via the internet or by a telephone operator. Illustrated telegrams are available for special occasions.
  • In Italy, Poste Italiane still offers telegram services. As of 2010, around 12.5 million telegrams were sent annually.
  • In Japan, NTT provides a telegram (denpou) service used mainly for special occasions such as weddings, funerals, graduations, etc. Local offices offer telegrams printed on special decorated paper and envelopes.
  • In Lithuania, telegram service was closed by the only provider Teo LT on 15 October 2007.
  • In Malaysia, Telekom Malaysia has ceased its telegram service effective 1 July 2012.
  • In Mexico, telegrams are still used as a low-cost service for people who cannot afford or do not have access to e-mail.
  • In Nepal, Nepal Telecom closed its telegram service on 1 January 2009.
  • In the Netherlands, the telegram service was sold by KPN to the Swiss-based company Unitel Telegram Services in 2001.
  • In New Zealand, New Zealand Post closed its telegram service in 1999. It later reinstated the service in 2003 for use only by business customers, primarily for debt collection or other important business notices.
  • In Pakistan, the Pakistan Telecommunication Company Ltd ceased telegram services on 27 January 2006.
  • In the Philippines, telegram services by the government's Telecommunications Office or Tanggapan ng Telekomunikasyon ceased on 20 September 2013. The last telegram was sent on that day at 3:15 PM.
  • In Russia, Central Telegraph (subsidiary of national operator Rostelecom) still offers telegram service. "Regular" or "Urgent" telegrams can be sent to any address in Russia and other countries. So called "Stylish" telegrams printed on artistic postcards are also available.
  • In Serbia, JP Pošta Srbije Beograd, the state-owned post, provides a telegram service. It is commonly used to express condolences, official notifications of death or to congratulate anniversaries, births, graduations, etc. Telegrams may be sent by using special telephone number or directly at the post office. Telegrams are delivered on the same day for recipients in territories covered by post offices with telegram delivery service and are delivered as regular mail for post offices which do not have telegram delivery service. In internal traffic, length of message is limited to 800 characters and is charged at flat rate while in international traffic telegrams are charged by word. International delivery is possible for recipients in Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Macedonia.
  • In Slovakia, the Slovak post closed its telegram service on 1 January 2007.
  • In Slovenia, Pošta Slovenije d.o.o. (Slovenian Post) provides a telegram service still commonly used for special occasions such as births, anniversaries, condolences, graduations, etc. It is considered more formal than email or SMS. Telegrams are usually printed in a typewriter font on greeting or condolences cards delivered in a specific yellow envelope. It is also possible to send gifts (e.g. chocolates, wine, plush toys, flowers) together with a message. The telegrams can be sent from local post offices, over the phone or online to addresses in Slovenia only.
  • In Sweden, Telia ceased telegraph services in 2002.
  • In Switzerland, Unitel Telegram Services took over telegram services from the national PTTs. Telegrams can still be sent to and from most countries.
  • In Thailand, Thailand Post ceased its telegram service on 30 April 2008, at 20.00 local time.
  • In the United Kingdom, the international telegram service formerly provided by British Telecom was sold in 2003 to an independent company, Telegrams Online, which promotes the use of telegrams as a retro greeting card or invitation.
  • In the United States, Western Union sent its last telegram on 27 January 2006. iTelegram bought Western Union's telex service and offers a range of telegram-like services.
  • Britton, John A. Cables, Crises, and the Press: The Geopolitics of the New International Information System in the Americas, 1866-1903. (University of New Mexico Press, 2013).
  • Fari, Simone. Formative Years of the Telegraph Union (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015).
  • Fari, Simone. Victorian Telegraphy Before Nationalization (2014).
  • Hochfelder, David, The Telegraph in America, 1832-1920. (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012).
  • Huurdeman, Anton A. The worldwide history of telecommunications (John Wiley & Sons, 2003)
  • John, Richard R. Network Nation: Inventing American Telecommunications (Harvard University Press; 2010) 520 pages; the evolution of American telegraph and telephone networks.
  • Kieve, Jeffrey L.  — The Electric Telegraph: a Social and Economic History David and Charles (1973)
  • Lew, B., and Cater, B. "The Telegraph, Co-ordination of Tramp Shipping, and Growth in World Trade, 1870–1910", European Review of Economic History 10 (2006): 147–73.
  • Müller, Simone M., and Heidi JS Tworek. "'The telegraph and the bank': on the interdependence of global communications and capitalism, 1866–1914." Journal of Global History 10#2 (2015): 259-283.
  • O'Hara, Glen. "New Histories of British Imperial Communication and the 'Networked World' of the 19th and Early 20th Centuries" History Compass (2010) 8#7pp 609–625, Historiography,
  • Richardson, Alan J. "The cost of a telegram: Accounting and the evolution of international regulation of the telegraph." Accounting History 20#4 (2015): 405-429.
  • Standage, Tom — The Victorian Internet. Berkley Trade, (1998)
  • Thompson, Robert Luther. Wiring a continent: The history of the telegraph industry in the United States, 1832-1866 (Princeton UP, 1947).
  • Wenzlhuemer, Roland. "The Development of Telegraphy, 1870–1900: A European Perspective on a World History Challenge." History Compass 5#5 (2007): 1720-1742.
  • Wenzlhuemer, Roland. Connecting the nineteenth-century world: The telegraph and globalization (Cambridge UP, 2013). online review
  • Winseck, Dwayne R., and Robert M. Pike. Communication & Empire: Media, Markets & Globalization, 1860-1930 (2007), 429pp.
  • Armagnay, Henri (1908). "Phototelegraphy". Annual Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution: 197–207. 
  • Dargan, J. "The Railway Telegraph", Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin, March, 1985 pp. 49–71
  • Gray, Thomas (1892). "The Inventors Of The Telegraph And Telephone". Annual Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution: 639–659. 
  • Pichler, Franz, Magneto-Electric Dial Telegraphs: Contributions of Wheatstone, Stoehrer and Siemens, The AWA Review vol. 26, (2013).
  • Ross, Nelson E. HOW TO WRITE TELEGRAMS PROPERLY The Telegraph Office (1928)
  • Wheen, Andrew;— DOT-DASH TO DOT.COM: How Modern Telecommunications Evolved from the Telegraph to the Internet (Springer, 2011)
  • Wilson, Geoffrey, The Old Telegraphs, Phillimore & Co Ltd 1976 ; us a comprehensive history of the shutter, semaphore and other kinds of visual mechanical telegraphs.


Don't forget! that as one of our early users, you are eligible to receive the 1,000 point bonus as soon as you have created five (5) acceptable piglix.