Western Union Stops Sending Telegrams

Western Union quietly went out of the telegram business last week.

After 145 years, Western Union has quietly stopped sending telegrams.

On the company’s web site, if you click on “Telegrams” in the left-side navigation bar, you’re taken to a page that ends a technological era with about as little fanfare as possible: “Effective January 27, 2006, Western Union will discontinue all Telegram and Commercial Messaging services. We regret any inconvenience this may cause you, and we thank you for your loyal patronage. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact a customer service representative.”

The decline of telegram use goes back at least to the 1980s, when long-distance telephone service became cheap enough to offer a viable alternative in many if not most cases. Faxes didn’t help. Email could be counted as the final nail in the coffin.

Western Union has not failed. It long ago refocused its main business to make money transfers for consumers and businesses. Revenues are now $3 billion annually. It’s now called Western Union Financial Services, Inc. and is a subsidiary of First Data.

Interesting. And in stark contrast with businesses who demand government subsidies to stay around despite their obsolescence.

FILED UNDER: General, Science & Technology
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. The End Of An Era…

    As of today, you will no longer be able to send a Western Union telegram, because Western Union has gotten out of the telegram business.

    After 145 years, Western Union has quietly stopped sending telegrams.

    On the company’s web site, if you….

  2. dustbury.com says:

    Killed my groove, I’ve got to say…

    WESTERN UNION NO LONGER IN TELEGRAPH BUSINESS STOP COMPANY NOW BEING SPUN OFF FROM FIRST DATA SENT LAST TELEGRAMS LAST THURSDAY STOP WILL CONCENTRATE ON FUNDS TRANSFER BUSINESS STOP SAMUEL……

  3. Western Union’s Era Has Officially Ended…

    I remember receiving for my 10th birthday, way back in 1971, a Western Union telegram from friends in England. That birthday wish was one I kept around for more years than I would have kept a birthday card. Being one…

  4. Ant says:

    bummer?