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Confessions of an Old Fogey
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What Hath God Wrought

What Hath God Wrought

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Well, it had to happen.  Western Union is finally going out of the telegram business

One of the questions asked in the MSNBC article linked is "Ever get a telegram" (ok, it's in a fake survey linked along with the article).

Actually, to my knowledge, I've only ever received one in my life.  It was about 21 years ago, and it came the day after I had a job interview with this big somewhat balding guy with a loud voice, and a name I'd never heard of before, Steve Ballmer.  The telegram was to invite me out to Seattle to interview with a small software company that almost nobody had heard of.  And the rest is history.

So it's finally the end of an era, telegrams will no longer be delivered, no more guy in the blue uniform with the funny brimmed hat.

Oh, and the title of this post?  It's the text of the first telegram sent, from Samuel Morse to Alfred Vail (and no, I didn't know that off the top of my head).

 

  • In one of those coincidences that make you go "Hm...", Samual Morse's message was sent on May 24, 1844. Baha'is mark the beginning of their religion on May 23, 1844.
  • Does that mean that AT&T will need to drop its second "T" ? (^_^)
  • Does it mean no more telegrams from Steve ?
  • It's interesting to see how English has changed in the past 150 years: neither "hath" nor "wrought" are commonly used today.
  • I'm surprised they lasted this long. In the "short" summer I worked as an operator for them, I never once had to connect a call to the telegram department. I once had to transfer money to a country that had no Western Union offices. And I had to break out a map a few times to help people low on gas find a western union office to pick up money so they could get gas... And there was that one time where I was on the phone entering orders for a branch without a computer when someone over the loudspeaker in the store announced that alcohol sales were closing in 5 minutes (I swear to god you could hear a stampede)... But never a telegram. Ah, good times. Back when a $300 paycheck seemed like alot...
  • If spammers could find a way to make recipients pay the cost of transmitting spams by telegraph, telegraphs would still be in operation.

    (Actually telegraphs are still in operation in some countries, but of course cell phone SMS has mostly taken over.  Even in countries where spammers know how to make recipients pay for SMS spams...)
  • It's more a case of how English has changed over the last 395 years: "What hath God wrought" is quoted from Numbers 23:23
    in the King James Version of the bible, published in 1611.
  • "Wrought" is still fairly common in the sense of "wrought iron"; "hath" was probably archaic even 150 years ago...
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