It wasn’t that long ago that cell phones and email didn’t exist! And people used to have to drive all the way to a library if they wanted to read an article about telegrams. Today communication is fast! One of the original fast forms of communication was the telegram.
A telegram is a message sent over a distance using a device called a telegraph. The first electric telegraphs were made around 1837. (The first email was sent in 1971, 134 years later!) Telegraphs work by sending electrical signals over wires, from one telegraph machine to another. The signals are usually short tones (dots) and long tones (dashes). These different tones are a special coded alphabet called Morse code!
Telegraphs totally changed how people communicated! Before, messages had to be sent by mail and could take days or weeks to arrive. Telegraphs worked in only a few seconds!
Because telegraphs were in code, they were often short and to the point, but people had fun with telegrams too! There have been birthday telegrams, holiday telegrams, and even candy-grams, which were delivered with a sweet snack! In 1933, there was the first ever singing telegram. Imagine a person coming to your door and singing you a message from a friend!
ExplorationDots and Dashes
Have you ever tried to say something in Morse code? Check out the Morse Code Alphabet link below to get you started. Each time you see a “.” it means “dot” or a short tap. Each time you see a ““””, it means “dash” or a longer tap.
Try taping with your feet or your hand and spell out your first name! See if you can get a friend or family member to try to guess what you are spelling out in Morse code!
Sources & links
"telegraph." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2010. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 25 Jan. 2010. “Morse Code Alphabet.” UC Santa Cruz Linguistics. 26 Jan. 2009. “On This Day: Tuesday, February 10.” New York Times Company. NYTimes.com 26 Jan. 2009. "telegram." Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2010. Merriam-Webster Online. 25 January 2010. P. Oslin, 97, Executive Who Put Songs Into Telegrams.” NYTimes.com. 29 Oct. 1996.