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Sunday, May 19, 2019

Maritime Logistics Professional


Posted to Maritime Musings (by on August 13, 2013

Just a shadow of its former self

Like the telephone, telex is a switched network, but connecting teleprinters rather than voice transceivers.  Development of the telex began in Germany in 1926 and became operational in 1933.  It was not until after the end of World War II that the system started to spread outside Germany, first in Europe and then gradually worldwide, becoming the first common medium for international record communications using standard ITU signaling techniques and operating criteria.  In the United States, Western Union built its telex network staring in 1958, using Siemens equipment.  Abbreviated English, like CU L8R, was used informally by telex operators long before the development of the internet, electronic mail, or texting on smart phones.  Telex users could also send the same message to multiple addressees.  Since telex charges were based on transmission time, most messages were first composed on paper tapes, which were then fed into an electronic tape reader for rapid transmission.  One particular feature of telex that endeared it to the business community, including the maritime industry, was that by adding the WRU code at the beginning and end of a message, the sender obtained hard confirmation that the message had been sent to the correct recipient and that the message had been transmitted to and received in full by the correct telex machine.  Widespread use of facsimile machines in the 1980s put a major dent in the telex business.  Then the 1990s brought email, which almost sounded the death-knell for the telex.  It received a reprieve from the maritime industry, where it has been incorporated as an integral part of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS).