This industry covers establishments primarily providing telegraph and other nonvocal message communications services including cablegram, electronic mail, and facsimile services. Also within this industry are establishments providing one or more of the following services: mailgram, photograph transmission, telegram, telex, and various telegraph services. Online and Internet services, many of which provide electronic mail services, are classified under SIC 7375: Information Retrieval Services.
Wired Telecommunications Carriers
The telegraph and other message services industry was in decline by the end of the 1990s. Although the telegraph was the oldest form of telecommunications, it has been steadily replaced by newer forms of data transmission such as e-mail over the Internet. However, Western Union, long the U.S. leader in this industry, was still a vibrant company and still offered telegraph and telex service, but has turned to various forms of money transfer as its bread-and-butter. Newer methods of nonvocal message transfer, such as broadcast facsimile and fax-on-demand services, were still viable businesses, but served rather specialized markets.
The word "telegraph" has been in use since 1792 when Frenchman Claude Chappe of France used it to describe a visual signaling system he invented. However, it was Samuel F.B. Morse—sending a message using his new system of dots and dashes between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., on May 24, 1844—who set a communications revolution in motion. On October 24, 1861, America's two coasts were linked by a single telegraph wire. This event put the legendary Pony Express out of business. In 1866 the Western Union Telegraph Company introduced stock tickers, enabling stockbrokers to receive minute by minute information from the New York Stock Exchange.
Even after the invention of the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876, the telegraph continued to be a vital communications medium. In 1930, the telegraph began to increase in popularity following a 40-year decline, a result of the use of teletypewriters, which did not require a skilled operator to use Morse Code and had the added benefit of providing a printed record of a communication. In 1933 Western Union introduced the singing telegram. In the 1960s the telegraph lines and poles that blanketed the nation were replaced by a microwave radio system.
Until the 1970s, telegrams and telexes were the most frequently used ways of transmitting written messages within the same day. The development of communications...