Telegrams are a means of communication by which one party delivers a text-based message to another. Traditionally, one would fill out a form at the post office and have their message transmitted by hand to the post office closest to the intended recipient.
Telegrams are considered a legal document and cannot be denied and the delivery boy requires a signature to confirm the recipient has successfully received it. In total contrast with modern communication, it is a very formal method of communication and although it was often made to be humorous and ironic in the later years, it was considered an official legal document.
The traditional definition of telegraphy is the transfer of a message without a direct physical exchange.
The first examples of telegraphy date back to the 18th century using smoke signals, sounds and light. Initially they existed on semaphore lines which are visual signals executed by reflecting light off the blades of towers.
The first electrical telegraph line was first discovered by Samuel F. B. Morse – inventor of the morse code.
Worldwide telegraphy is what changed the language use for news reporting. There wa sa demand for the language to be relatable worldwide and stripped of any colloquial terms and is arguably what began the formal style in which news reports are written.
The art has since progressed into the technological age and now we can send emails and instant messages all over the globe without even acknowledging the hidden coding and processes behind it.
Although we have evolved heavily since our ancestors’ smoke signals and light reflections, the online method of communication we have adopted could still technically be considered a method of telegraphy.
The telegram’s modern use is a formal method of communication for events – weddings, deaths, condolences, graduations, congratulations – including invitations and rejections.
The Telex machine was generally set up in post offices and one would have their wedding invitation or message captured using the Baudot Code (a five bit system) and carried to the next post office via telegraph wire or radio system. It would then be printed and delivered to the recipient.
If someone were to decline an invitation to a wedding, it was often considered custom to send the wedding telegram message via wedding telegram to the best man, this was then read out at the wedding reception.
This allowed a formal and social way of allowing the people who couldn’t make it to still have their messages of hope and congratulations to be relayed to the whole reception.