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Communications IT

In India, the Dot Dash Is Done 86

Posted by timothy
from the clackity-clackity-dot-dot-dot dept.
cold fjord writes that, as promised last month, telegraph service in India is being honorably retired: "Only 7 years behind the US. From Forbes: '... in India, where I'm now sojourning, telegraph service has survived as a basic means of communication since the British East India Company sent the first telegram from Calcutta to nearby Diamond Harbor in 1850... As of July 15, the state company that runs the telegraph service is shutting it down. ... "For long, the telegraph was eyed with suspicion as an emblem of imperial rule," editorialized The Indian Express ... "Yet it brought various parts of the country together and eventually entered the traffic of everyday life. When the telegraph winds up, one of the oldest markers of a modern India will be lost. Stop" — the word that typically ended brief telegraphic phrases rather than periods. Until fairly recently, several hundred thousand messages a day moved over the wires of the telegraph system ...' From NBC: 'When it was completed in 1856, the Indian telegraph stretched over 4,000 miles ... Tom Standage, author of "The Victorian Internet" writes, the early telegraph networks were responsible for "hype, skepticism, hackers, on-line romances and weddings, chat-rooms, flame wars, information overload, predictions of imminent world peace."'"
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In India, the Dot Dash Is Done

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  • Chat rooms? (Score:5, Funny)

    by SeaFox (739806) on Monday July 15, 2013 @01:08AM (#44281959)

    I'd like to know how a chat room worked on a telegraph.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      like this. STOP

    • by tanveer1979 (530624) on Monday July 15, 2013 @01:22AM (#44282003) Homepage Journal
         <  >  !   *  '  '  #
           Waka waka bang splat tick tick hash,

          ^  "    `    $   $  -
           Caret quote back-tick dollar dollar dash,

          !  *  =  @  $    _
           Bang splat equal at dollar under-score,

          %   *   <  >  ~   #   4
           Percent splat waka waka tilde number four,

           &     [    ]   . /
           Ampersand bracket bracket dot dot slash,

           |       {      ,    ,   SYSTEM HALTED
           Vertical-bar curly-bracket comma comma CRASH.

      http://poetry.about.com/od/poetryplay/l/blwakawaka.htm
    • Re:Chat rooms? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Ozoner (1406169) on Monday July 15, 2013 @01:41AM (#44282065)

      > I'd like to know how a chat room worked on a telegraph.

      On most Telegraph lines there were many operators spaced at intervals along the line and its branch lines.
      So when there was no traffic to send, the bored operators would chat.

      And of course there were many amateur telegraph circuits, some connecting dozens of enthusiasts in a town or suburb.

      And then of course Amateur Radio came along.

    • by 91degrees (207121)
      Telegraph network forums?

      I believe dashdot.og was very big in the 1890's. Although the "ADELINA PATTI NAKED AND PETRIFIED STOP" troll posts were rather tiresome.
    • Re:Chat rooms? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by cold fjord (826450) on Monday July 15, 2013 @06:03AM (#44282675)

      I'd like to know how a chat room worked on a telegraph.

      I'd like to know what the flame wars were about.

    • Re:Chat rooms? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by crackspackle (759472) on Monday July 15, 2013 @09:05AM (#44283933)

      For an interesting take on why the telegraph led in part to the modern computer and how both work, read Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software" [amazon.com] by Charles Petzold. He argues all the ideas needed to build a modern computer were known around the time telegraph use took off, and he uses those ideas to describe logic gates and put them together into a working computer.

      In short, the relay was invented in 1835 as a way to extend telegraph runs further without requiring operators. Morse code, as the primary way to communicate, happened to also be a binary code that mapped letters to the equivalent of ones and zeros, dots and dashes. In 1854, George Boole published “An Investigation of the Laws of Thought”. Petzold stops there and essentially uses only those ideas to build his modern computer. It wasn’t recognized formally by anyone until 1937 when Claude Shannon published “A Symbolic Analysis of Relay and Switching Circuits”. Even Charles Babbage had known of Boole’s work and the telegraph but did not see how it could have been better used to build his Difference Engine.

  • by Frankie70 (803801) on Monday July 15, 2013 @01:27AM (#44282027)

    Landline penetration was never good in India.

    Hence telegrams were used by people who wanted to contact people without telephones urgently.

    Also telegrams were common during weddings even upto 10 years ago. People who were in cities other than were the couple were getting married typically sent their best wishes to the address given in the wedding card because people won't be at home on that day to pick up the telephone. And telegrams had 20-25 numeric codes for standard messages which made it cheap to send telegrams. If the message you wanted to send was one of the standard 20-25 messages you just send the number as the telegram rather than the message. The receiving telegram office would convert it back to the full message before delivering.

    Cell phones essentially killed both of the above scenarios. And cell phone in India is massive as compared to land lines ever were.

    • And cell phone in India is massive as compared to land lines ever were.
       

      Cellphone penetration in India, I meant - cellphones themselves are not so massive except for the Samsung phablets

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday July 15, 2013 @05:47AM (#44282637) Journal

      It probably doesn't help(for the survival of telegraphs) that cellphones encheapen exactly the same part of the process that is most expensive with telegram service.

      Unless you want telegram service to be about as useful as media mail, in terms of timeliness, you need a pretty aggressive short-haul postal service running out of the telegraph office. Technology presumably reduced the price of transmission links between offices(at least in places where it was worth upgrading, rather than just milking the legacy copper); but you still have to collect the text on one end, and have somebody run out and deliver it on the other. Even with arbitrarily cheap data transmission, you've still got a postal service hanging off all your endpoints.

      With cellphones, the technology and bandwidth requirements are higher; but now the messages deliver themselves from the sender to the tower and from the tower to the recipient.

  • ..and also, the telegram was pretty much just the name for a messaging service that transferred the messages electronically for some amount of distance and got delivered at the other end..

    • ..and also, the telegram was pretty much just the name for a messaging service that transferred the messages electronically for some amount of distance and got delivered at the other end..

      ..which is what telegram has always been about?, unless you're a stock exchange or government or military headquarter etc. and have a telegraph line running to your building.

    • STOP
  • like:
    telegraph service site:slashdot.org

    • by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Monday July 15, 2013 @02:21AM (#44282171) Homepage

      one way to catch dudes is Google

      Your lifestyle is none of my business, but this isn't the place.

      • Telegraph, telephone, cell phone, internet, people's interests never really change, just the medium.

        Almost had a typo. That last bit almost was: "just he medium." Oddly appropriate.

      • one way to catch dudes is Google

        Your lifestyle is none of my business, but this isn't the place.

        Darn! Got the P 180 degrees off.

        The es was meant, I had to really look at it till I saw the error, I LOL myself.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        one way to catch dudes is Google

        Your lifestyle is none of my business, but this isn't the place.

        Are you kidding? What could be more of a sausage party than slashdot? Gay-sausage-party dot com?

  • Is Slashdot (Score:2, Funny)

    by Black Parrot (19622)

    what you get when you telegraph while drunk?

    • I think they called them drunkgrams. Sort of equivalent to the current practice of drunk blogging.

  • A good tld: .–.
    http:///.– looks quite tasty.
  • Is slashdot reporting the dot-com-like flash crash of dot dash from lack of cash?

  • what dot dash (Score:5, Informative)

    by ewanm89 (1052822) on Monday July 15, 2013 @02:17AM (#44282157) Homepage

    This wasn't using Morse, in fact outside amateur radio, Morse hasn't really been used for several decades now. Until 2010 this would have been using teletype printers, likely using baudot or Murray code, neither of which use a dash even if one-off keyed. In 2010 the. Company in India upgraded.to a 'web based system's, according to Wikipedia.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      There is loads of misinformation going around on this topic.
      It was also claimed that this was the world's last telegram service to shut down, and this is not true at all.
      Many telegram services are still operating, also in India.
      Poor research, I would say.

      • Re:what dot dash (Score:4, Insightful)

        by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday July 15, 2013 @06:21AM (#44282727) Journal

        I haven't been able to figure out where the story got its legs. It is true that 'The' telegram service, the one with organizational continuity back to the original system set up to handle the logistical needs of Her Britannic Majesty's colonial occupation efforts, is shutting down. Game over, goodbye.

        However, since virtually any data transmission mechanism will serve as a telegraph medium(they aren't exactly high-bandwidth or anything), there isn't much stopping other outfits from hanging out a shingle and offering telegram services, as some have.

        Does anybody know if the state-run service that is shutting down had some sort of special status for legal purposes(the way the US Postal Service's offerings sometimes count for legal or procedural purposes where fedex or UPS might not)?

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Telegrams sent via the state-run service did count as legal correspondence.

    • This wasn't using Morse, in fact outside amateur radio, Morse hasn't really been used for several decades now.

      I am pretty sure it is still used in aviation to identify beacons.

  • the word that typically ended brief telegraphic phrases rather than periods

    It is a period. This is like saying that people used a dash instead of a hyphen.

    • Re:Stop. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Chrisq (894406) on Monday July 15, 2013 @03:17AM (#44282295)

      the word that typically ended brief telegraphic phrases rather than periods

      It is a period. This is like saying that people used a dash instead of a hyphen.

      Though a stop and a period are the same, a dash is not a hyphen [wikipedia.org]:

      The hyphen () is a punctuation mark used to join words and to separate syllables of a single word. The use of hyphens is called hyphenation. The hyphen should not be confused with dashes ( –, — ), which are longer and have different uses, or with the minus sign, which is also longer.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Monday July 15, 2013 @07:22AM (#44282955) Journal
    Combined hand is the term used by Indian Posts & Telegraph Department to describe postal workers certified in morse code. He got his certificate in Chennai in 1957 or so. Most common telegraph traffic was rural merchants exchanging price information and harvest forecasts with district and state commercial centers. Usually in the evening and usually obfuscated in terms unique to each trading family.

    But out side business most common people got telegrams bearing death notices. India is a very hot country and usually bodies are cremated within 24 hours. Certain religious ritual need a certain relatives to be present at the cremation. Usually the wife's family (whether the husband dies or the wife) plays an important roles in the rites and the property settlements that follows soon after. Husband's brothers would usually be in the same village, but again sometimes they need to be sent for. Sons/daughters also need to be sent out for urgently. It is not uncommon to actually send messengers out for very important relatives. So for most common people only death notices are important enough to use the expensive, so many rupees per word, messages.

    Middle class folks would also send congratulatory telegrams for weddings they could not attend. The custom again requires certain relatives must be present for weddings, but if they could not be, spending money to send telegrams carries the subtext, "sorry I could not attend, see I am spending expensive telegram, so it shows that I value the relationship a lot, I beg forgiveness for being able to attend". I have heard of people sending double telegrams.

    In a PGWodehouse novel Betram Wooster and his aunt Dhalia exchange some 10 telegrams or so in one afternoon. I found that to be a lot more hilarious than most other people because my prior notions about what a telegram signifies.

    Once the commercial messages went to SMS basically the market disappeared for telegrams.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Kindly do the needful. STOP. Warmest regards. STOP

  • hype, skepticism, hackers, on-line romances and weddings, chat-rooms, flame wars, information overload, predictions of imminent world peace.

    The internet is only capable of the first seven items in that list.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 15, 2013 @08:41AM (#44283683)

    There is still telegraph service in India. It's just the state run provider shutting down.

    Source [arstechnica.com]

  • Telex Machines... (Score:5, Informative)

    by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Monday July 15, 2013 @08:58AM (#44283873)
    A century ago telegrams were sent using morse, but in the last 80 years or so, a 'telegram' doesn't / didn't mean 'morse code.'

    When Roger O. Thornhill sends a telegram in North by Northwest it would have gone by telex machine. The 'Congratulations!' telegrams we sent and received in my youth were sent by telex.

    ...same deal in India. Telex, not morse

    http://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/800px-Telex_machine_ASR-32-640x426.jpg [arstechnica.net]
    • Re:Telex Machines... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Monday July 15, 2013 @10:52AM (#44285317) Journal
      Probably in USA. In India regular dot-dash telegraph was operational well into the 1970s. I have visited post offices with my dad and been "shocked" by the telegraph equipment. There key-hammer instruments were not insulated and if you touch it you will get a shock. The voltage is not as high 110V but high enough to feel the tingling and make muscles twitch but not painful. I don't know the actual voltage used. I remember the telex machines being introduced to state capitals in 1970s. I have seen the telegrams telegrams written by the hand of the operator in pencil. Telex messages will have lines and line of tape cut and paste literally on to the same form.
      • by rubycodez (864176)

        did a web search on BSNL, the images suggest they went to networked PC for telegrams long ago, no more "Sparky working the key"

        • BSNL is very very recent. It was established in just 2000. The Indian Posts & Telegraph Department dates back to days of British Raj. I still remember by sixth grade Indian History. Emperor Sher Shah Suri (1540) introduced mail service based on horses to India. Take look at the history of the post office in India: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Postal_Service [wikipedia.org]
          • by rubycodez (864176)

            as a corporation is it recent, however it used to be known as your Department of Telecommunications

            • Let us start all over again. The thread started with the statement: " but in the last 80 years or so, a 'telegram' doesn't / didn't mean 'morse code.' ". The entire concept of PC is about 30 years old. (IBM PC - 1981). PCs did not get network support in USA till about 1990s. Saying "BSNL website says it switched to networked PCs to support telegrams, long ago. This shows Morse code has not been used for 80 years" is wrong.

              When was Morse code discontinued in India for telegrams? Once telephone networks

  • There's one guy at the NSA that just got his world crushed... because this was his job. Spying on telegraph systems. Poor guy.

Stinginess with privileges is kindness in disguise. -- Guide to VAX/VMS Security, Sep. 1984

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