The telegram. 176 years on. End of story. Full stop.

The first telegram sent by Samuel Morse read 'what hath God wrought'

The first telegram, which was sent by Samuel Morse read ‘what hath God wrought’: The right answer 176 years later, is still the same as in Morse’s day. That change is the only constant

One has to wonder why the Indian government is reportedly sending 65 per cent of the 5,000 telegrams still despatched every day in the country. Now that we hear the world’s final telegram will be sent on July 14 (it will happen somewhere in India), it emerges that the Indian government still despatches a lot of telegrams.

To whom? Where? And why?

Perhaps just to give the telegraph service something to do?

Unsurprisingly, India’s state-run telecommunications company Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited is losing a lot of money (more than $23 million a year) by keeping 75 telegraph offices running, with a staff of 998. Presumably, it’s losing a great deal too – in business opportunities, efficiency and so on – by sending out so many telegrams.

Unless it is efficiency of a sort just to keep something running even though no one really needs it anymore in the age of the computer and mobile phone.

Those of a nostalgic cast will be tearful about the demise of a method of communication invented by Samuel Morse in 1837. Morse’s telegram – signifying the death of distance before the internet girdled the global village – read “what hath god wrought”.

The answer, 176 years later, is still the same as in Morse’s day: Change is the only constant. That’s why for the telegram, it is end of story. Full stop.