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TUCoPS :: Phreaking General Information :: twxdeath.txt

The death of telegraphy

From: (Scott Loftesness)
Newsgroups: comp.dcom.telecom
Subject: AT&T Exits Telegraph Business
Organization: Glenbrook Systems, Inc.

[Moderator's Note: The end of an era!  Thanks also to Alan Toscano for
sending this AT&T press release.   PAT]

     BASKING RIDGE, N.J. -- Familiar to the world over through the
clickety-clack of ticker tape machines and teletypewriters, telegraphy
has been gradually bowing out of the telecommunications picture during
the last twenty years.

     The nonstop chatter has been replaced by the hum of laser
printers and the electronic beeps on computer screens.  AT&T, a
leading innovator and major service provider of telegraphy, announced
this year it is withdrawing the service due to the universal
availability of lower-cost, higher quality digital telecommunications

     "The incredible advances in our industry means customers can get
more for less," said Wes Bartlett, AT&T district manager, Business
Communications Services.  "Today's digital technology can transmit
information hundreds of thousands times faster than telegraphy and is
considerably more cost-effective for users.

     "Telegraphy has been to the twentieth century what
state-of-the-art digital telecommunications services will be to the
next century," Bartlett added.  "We are proud of our contributions in
both areas."

     The transmission of telegraph service is based on analog
technology, which sends information by continuous electrical waves.
Today's digital technology breaks information into its smallest
components, the binary "ones and zeros" of computer language.

     However, telegraphy was the actually the first digital service --
although a very simplified version compared with today's technology --
since it was produced on the customer's premises in terms of "on or
off," or "dash or space."  It was converted to analog for transmission.

     Telegraphy usage accelerated rapidly during the 1920s when the
financial industry adopted the technology to send records of
transactions.  At this time, news organizations began using telegraph
service for transmitting stories between offices.

     In November, 1931 the Bell System inaugurated the teletypewriter
exchange service, often called the TWX (pronounced "twicks") service.
It provided a complete communications system for the written word,
including teletypewriters, transmission channels and switchboards.

     Telegraphy was adopted by many kinds of businesses, including
utility companies, alarm companies, airlines, and brokerages as well
as government agencies.  It was used heavily through the 1960s.

     Most of AT&T's telegraph service customers have been converted to
digital private line services such as DATAPHONE (R) Digital Service
and ACCUNET (R) Spectrum of Digital Services.

     "Our name remains American Telephone and Telegraph," Bartlett
said.  "It is an historic name and our legacy.  We are proud to have a
corporate name that spans generations of communications technology.

     "Despite rapid technological change, AT&T remains focused on
helping people communicate," Bartlett added.  "Telegraphy helped bring
us to this point.  Digital technology is taking us into a new era of
global messaging."



Telegraph service made it possible to communicate large volumes of
information between two or more locations.  Telegraph circuits
permitted customers to send to each other a printed or hard copy
version of the information at reasonable cost, which was impractical
with the telephone.

A telegraph circuit consisted of four components: station equipment
installed on the customer's premises, such as a teletypwriter and
teleprinter; the local loop, or wires, between the customer location
and the AT&T central office; the central office equipment in the AT&T
telegraph serving test center (STC); and the wires connected to the
telegraph STC serving the other customer.

Here's how it worked: Customer A sent information to customer B by
typing the information on a teletypewriter keyboard.  The
teletypewriter converted the message to a coded signal which was sent
out on the local loop to the STC and central office equipment.  There
the signal was converted to make it compatible with the carrier's
lines and sent on to the STC serving the distant city.  The central
office equipment then converted the signal again and sent it over the
local loop to customer B's teletypewriter which decoded the signal and
printed the information.

The procedure was reversed if customer B wanted to send information to
customer A.  This method of sending information, where only one
station could send at a time, was accomplished over a simple
half-duplex, or two-wire circuit.  When both customers wanted to send
and receive at the same time a full-duplex, or four-wire circuit, was

At its peak in 1970, telegraph service could transmit data at 150 bits
per second.


                 AT&T and Telegraph Service

1887:  First private-line telegraph service, for L. H. Taylor 
       & Co., brokers, between their offices in New York and 

1888:  First service for news media customer, Globe Newspaper 
       Company, between New York and Boston.

1915:  Teletype offers speeds of 30 or 50 words per minute.

1920s: Press and financial markets create a boom for usage of 
       the service.

1939:  Speed reaches 75 words per minute.

1944:  Speed reaches 100 words per minute.

1957:  Teleprinter introduces speeds of 300 words per 

1970s: Decline in usage begins as electronic data processing 
       replaces many telegraph functions.

1980s: Wireless and digital methods accelerate decline.

1991:  AT&T exits telegraph service.

Scott Loftesness            Internet:
515 Buena Vista Avenue      Others: 
Redwood City, CA 94061

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