It’s the end of an era: Deutsche Post will discontinue its telegram service at the end of the year. A company spokesman explained the move on Thursday that the offer had hardly been used recently. Swiss Post is thus following the example of many other postal companies around the world.

Invented in the 19th century, the telegram was one of the fastest ways to transmit important information well into the 20th century. The text dictated in person or by telephone in the post or telegraph office was usually sent by telex to a post or telegraph office near the recipient and then delivered by courier.

Since the usually quite high price for a telegram was based on the number of words, a separate language style developed with short forms instead of complete sentences. A typical formulation was something like: “Arrive Saturday 8 p.m. Grandma” or “Arrive Friday the 13th” in Reinhard Mey’s song. With the spread of the telephone and even more so with the advent of the internet and smartphones, the telegram dramatically lost its importance.

Recently, it had hardly been used by private customers, said the post spokesman. Companies would sometimes still use it for reminders or as a token of appreciation for long-standing employees on company anniversaries, but even that had become less and less common.

This is not surprising, however, because the prices for a telegram continued to rise despite the loss of importance. A mini telegram with up to 160 characters recently cost at least 12.57 euros, a maxi telegram with up to 480 characters 17.89 euros – in the simple version. With a decorative leaf, 21.98 euros were due.

However, the telegram is not the only aging telecommunications offer that consumers in Germany will have to say goodbye to in the coming year. At the end of January, Deutsche Telekom also switched off its last public telephones, as it announced in October.

Since the end of November it has not been possible to pay with cash at the other 12,000 devices. At the end of January, the possibility of using the telephone pillars with telephone cards also ends.

The first “telephone kiosk” was set up in Berlin in 1881. At its peak, there were more than 160,000 telephone booths in Germany. However, they have gradually disappeared from the cityscape over the past few decades because hardly anyone used them anymore, at the latest with the spread of mobile communications.

Almost every third public telephone did not make a single euro turnover last year, Telekom reported in October. The average revenue per location is also only a few euros per month. This is out of all proportion to the maintenance costs. According to the company, it will probably be 2025 before the last telephone pillars and telephone booths are dismantled.

min/hb (dpa)

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The original of this post “Post seals the end of the telegram” comes from Deutsche Welle.