Extending Marshall McLuhan – Second Edition
Chapter 25. Telegraph
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Content and extension: The content of the telegraph is the written word, which has been extended by electricity so as to eliminate the barrier of spatial separation. The telegraph is an extension of the written word, which is an extension of the spoken word, which is an extension of the mind.
Cascade: The cascade is from the mind to the spoken word to the written word to the telegram.
LOM: Telegraph enhances communication over distance, obsolesces the Pony Express, retrieves smoke signals, and reverses into the telephone.
The telegraph system has a long and fascinating history. Western Union dominated this field of communication in the USA almost from its inception in 1851 as The New York and Mississippi Valley Printing Telegraph Company. Five years later when it acquired telegraph companies operating in the western US it changed its name to Western Union, signifying the union of all these telegraph lines. It completed a coast-to-coast hookup in 1861, introduced the first stock ticker in 1866, and offered money transfer services in 1871. The latter service is why Western Union survived into the twenty-first century, ← 219 | 220 → with over 100,000 money transfer agents worldwide, despite the obsolescence of the telegram by the telephone (a technology it took a pass on when it was offered it) and the subsequent obsolescence of the telegram by telex (a direct-dial consumer-to-consumer service they introduced in 1958), fax, and e-mail,...
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