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Western Union Cables' Last Message STOP

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The companies that combined in 1856 to form Western Union began delivering telegrams in 1851 STOP  That company built the first transcontinental telegraph line in 1861 STOP  From that time forward, messages and news of all types arrived via courier in signature yellow envelopes STOP  Earlier last week, First Data Corp., owner of Western Union, announced plans to spin off the 155-year-old company, the world's largest money-transfer business, in a transaction valued at ca. $20 billion STOP

On Friday, Western Union delivered its last telegram STOP  According to Western Union, the final ten telegrams included birthday greetings, a condolence message, and several people simply sending one of the last telegrams STOP  Western Union had phased out couriers, many of whom who used bicycles, by the early 1970s STOP

The telegram was used to announce the first flight (1903) and the start of the First World War STOP  By last year, however, only 20,000 telegrams were sent, at a cost of ca. $10 per telegram STOP  Other communications technologies, including e-mail and SMS, had made for faster and less expensive ways of communicating STOP

The use of the telegram peaked in the 1920s and 1930s, when it was cheaper to send a telegram than to place a long-distance telephone call STOP  Customers used the word "stop" instead of a period to end a sentence because Western Union's pricing structure charged extra for punctuation while the word STOP was free STOP

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