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Why did telegrams use the word stop?

4 Answer(s) Available
Answer # 1 #

In many English-speaking countries, a telegram messenger, more often known as a telegram delivery boy, telegraph boy or telegram boy was a young man employed to deliver telegrams, usually on bicycle. In the United Kingdom, they were employed by the General Post Office; in the United States, they worked for Western Union or other telegraph companies.

Telegram boys became popular in the United Kingdom after the General Post Office took over control of inland telegraphs from the railways and private telegraph companies. Many of the boys employed by these services to deliver telegrams transferred to the Post Office. In some respects the life of a telegram boy was not unlike that of someone in military service. They were expected to behave in a manner befitting one who wore the uniform of the Queen, and were required to complete a daily drill. From 1915 to 1921, morning exercise was added to these requirements.

During the 1930s the Post Office introduced motorcycles. This started in Leeds where boys aged 17 were allowed to volunteer for training, but only with the permission of their parents. However, following the success of this, motorcycles were soon introduced elsewhere in the country. The fleet was comprised almost exclusively of BSA B33-1 250cc motorbikes which boys were expected to ride at an average of 15 mph. Later 125cc BSA Bantams were used. These were finally replaced with smaller Raleigh and Puch models.

During its heyday in the 1930s, the service was delivering an average of 65 million telegrams per year; however, the service was running at a loss, estimated at £1 million annually.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s the use of telegrams had dropped significantly, with around 10 million sent annually in the mid-1960s. Consequently, the Post Office took the decision in 1977 to abolish the service. The service continued for a few years and was briefly operated by British Telecom after it split from the Post Office. British Telecom announced on 19 October 1981 that the telegram would be discontinued, and it was finally taken out of service on 30 September 1982 after 139 years in the United Kingdom.

The telegram as such was superseded by the British Telecom Telemessage service, introduced in October 1982. Messages were dictated over the telephone or sent via telex, printed, and delivered overnight by first class post in a distinctive envelope guaranteed for next day delivery, rather than by messenger.

Telegraph boys (also referred to as district messenger boys, telegraph messenger boys, or simply as messenger boys) were uniformed young men between 10 and 18 years of age who carried telegrams through urban streets. In most areas they used bicycles; in some dense areas they went on foot. Unlike the men in the telegraph office who worked indoors on fixed wages under close supervision, enjoyed union benefits, and managed the electrical transfer of information, telegraph boys worked outdoors under no supervision on piece wages, saw no union benefits, and managed the physical aspect of the industry in the form of handwritten or printed paper messages.

Boys reported for work in the morning clad in their uniforms and awaited their assignments, receiving payment by the mile. Though some chose to travel by foot, bicycles were required for distant destinations. John Dickinson of Dallas, Texas accumulated more than 16,000 miles between April and September 1916. Western Union bought 5,000 bicycles a year and resold them to their telegraph boys nationwide at a discount. A local fleet might number from one to three dozen or more. Companies were responsible for providing uniform laundries, locker rooms, assembly halls, and classrooms.

In the call-box system developed in 1872, a customer would ring the telegraph office for a messenger who would then speed to the customer's door to pick up a handwritten message and return to the telegraph office to have it sent electrically to its destination.

The life could be dangerous. Boys were expected to "scorch" their bicycles in urban traffic. Strikes occurred with messenger boys cycling en-masse to keep scabs from being hired. Boys attended continuation schools on a four-hours-per-week schedule rather than the 36-hour schedule of public schools. During slack times, the telegraph office hid the boys from public view in basements and back rooms where they smoked, read penny dreadfuls, and shot craps. Weekends or evenings might involve taking part in uniformed military drills before the public. At night, the boys might be required to enter the red light districts in connection with their job duties. The demand for telegraph boys fell when companies began reading messages over the telephone.

In the autumn of 1913, bicycling telegraph boy Robert Crawford of Washington, D.C. collided with a car carrying President Woodrow Wilson. The President sent his personal physician to attend Crawford. Later, he visited the boy in the hospital and presented him with a new bicycle. "I did not know it was the President's car that I ran into," the boy said. Wilson replied, "I rather thought it was the President's car that ran into you."

tzwmshga Michaels
Answer # 2 #

Unlike Ethernet however, with it's automatic repeaters, telegraph had manual repeaters who would receive a message on one cable and retransmit it on another. For a Trans-Atlantic transmision this might involve several hops on each side of the trans-Atlantic cable:

In all these retransmits, there was a very real danger that single punctuation marks might get missed, thus garbling the message. By introducing distinct words such as STOP, COMMA, SEMICOLON for the punctuation marks a degree of redundancy - essentially error-checking - was introduced that made such errors vastly less likely.

That it was the military that first made this practice standard is not surprising. When giving orders, competent commanders go to great lengths to ensure that the orders are direct and unambiguous. An example of the consequences of even a simple failure, two orders arriving out of sequence, is well known from the first days of the 1809 campaign in Bavaria.

Napoleon sent a first message to Berthier from Paris by semaphore, which was delayed for more than a day by cloudy conditions near Strasbourg. Then he sent a second, more detailed, message by courier which arrived to Berthier first. As a consequence of the orders arriving out of order (but not being recognized as such), Berthier took the more general instructions as an amendment of the detail rather than the other way around - resulting in Davout's corps remaining at Regensburg two days longer than intended by Napoleon.

The ensuing correspondence between Berther and Davout is well described in Volume 1 of John H Gill's Thunder on the Danube, as the two marshals attempt to sort out, long distance, the true intent of Napoleon's orders.

Why only puncutation you might ask? Because normal language already contains a great deal of redundancy, both in spelling and grammar, as evidenced here:

Finally - why were English words used instead of special code? Because the sender was charged for the message by the "word" - and every character of a "special code" was it's own word. And why was that you ask - because words can be processed faster and more accurately than special codes. Words, as noted above, contain error-checking redundancy that special codes cannot. The difficulty is not at the sending end so much as at the receiving end, where the receiver cannot utilize any obvious redundancy to ensure accuracy.

Verzoletto loygqum ReddishBlack
Answer # 3 #

The company formed in April 1856 to exploit the hot technology of the telegraph to send cross-country messages in less than a day. It is now focusing its attention on money transfers and other financial services, and delivered its final telegram on Friday.

“The decision was a hard decision because we’re fully aware of our heritage,” said Victor Chayet, a spokesman for the Greenwood Village, Colo.-based company. “But it’s the final transition from a communications company to a financial services company.”

Several telegraph companies that eventually combined to become Western Union were founded in 1851. Western Union built its first transcontinental telegraph line in 1861.

“At the time it was as incredible and astonishing as the computer when it first came out,” said Tom Noel, a history professor at the University of Colorado at Denver. “For people who could barely understand it, here you had the magic of the electric force traveling by wire across the country.”

In 1994, Western Union Financial Services was acquired by First Financial Management Corp. which First Data Corp. bought for $7 billion the following year. Last week, First Data said it would spin Western Union off as a separate company.

Telegrams reached their peak popularity in the 1920s and 1930s when it was cheaper to send a telegram than to place a long-distance telephone call. People would save money by using the word “stop” instead of periods to end sentences because punctuation was extra while the four character word was free.

Telegrams were used to announce the first flight in 1903 and the start of World War I. During World War II, the sight of a Western Union courier was feared because the War Department, the precursor to the Department of Defense, used the company to notify families of the death of their loved ones serving in the military, Chayet said.

With long-distance rates dropping and different technologies for communicating evolving — including the Internet — Western Union phased out couriers in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

By last year, only 20,000 telegrams were sent at about $10 a message, mostly from companies using the service for formal notifications, Chayet said.

Last week, the last 10 telegrams included birthday wishes, condolences on the death of a loved one, notification of an emergency, and several people trying to be the last to send a telegram.

“Recent generations didn’t receive telegrams and didn’t know you could send them,” Chayet said.

Samuel Morse, inventor of the Morse Code, sent the first telegram from Washington to Baltimore on May 26, 1844, to his partner Alfred Vail to usher in the telegram era that displaced the Pony Express. It read “WHAT HATH GOD WROUGHT?”

Whitman Hu
Radiology Nursing
Answer # 4 #

Telegrams reached their peak popularity in the 1920s and 1930s when it was cheaper to send a telegram than to place a long-distance telephone call. People would save money by using the word “stop” instead of periods to end sentences because punctuation was extra while the four character word was free.

Sachin Hsiao