TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Western Union History

Western Union History

Lisa Minter (
Sat, 25 Jun 2005 00:45:05 EDT

For your reading this weekend, a look though the Digest Archives at
the Western Union Telegraph Company, as presented by Jim Haynes
in this Digest in February, 1992. The original series of
articles appeared in three articles that weekend, now 13 years

Patrick reminds me that in addition to the cross references shown
in this report (all of which also appear in our archives) you may
wish to examine the directory entitled 'Western Union Technical
Review', which is the entire 22 year run of issues of this technical
journal, which was the equivilent of the Bell System technical

In this file:

3 part series "Things Looked Rosy For Western Union, appeared in
TELECOM Digest February 20-24, 1992.


Also, "Early History of Western Union, from Digest February 24, 1992.
Also see 'history of telex' file and references to Morkrum Company.
Also see articles on 'Western Union Clocks' during 1991-92 in Digest.

Lisa Minter


From: haynes@cats.UCSC.EDU (Jim Haynes)
Date: Thu, 20 Feb 92 22:51:55 -0800
Subject: Things Looked Rosy for Western Union in 1960 - Part I

The August 27, 1960 issue of {Business Week} showed W. U. President
Walter P. Marshall on the front cover, with a pushbutton message
switching position in the background, and the following story inside.
(page 86 ff)

"Electronics Puts Young Blood in Old Company"

"When Walter P. Marshall (cover) stepped into the president's job at
Western Union in December, 1948, it looked as if his tenure might be
short and unhappy. Western Union, once the backbone of fast and
dependable long-distance communications in the United States, was,
quite plainly, a deathly sick old company. It was saddled with high
labor costs, old equipment, crushing debt, and local operations that
often cost more to run than they returned in gross revenue.

"Some Western Union executives were waiting for a declaration of
bankruptcy; many doubted that the company would survive to celebrate
its 100th anniversary in 1951.

"-Rejuvenation- But in the ensuing 10 years, Western Union not only
has pulled through, but it has thoroughly rejuvenated itself. Instead
of a winded oldster that could only look back at the days when its
competition was the Pony Express, it now resembles an electronics
adolescent with a bright and profitable future. The company's new
strength already is evident: Last year its revenues and earnings set
an all-time high.

"Western Union can be expected to keep on growing. In the next five
years, management hopes to spend $350-million on expansion. Next
year, the company plans to spend $105-million for plant and equipment
on top of $45-million this year. Completion of a transcontinental
microwave network will increase the system's circuit capacity 10
times, and will add enormously to the range of services it can offer.
It will be able to provide increased telegraphic service, leased voice
channels, facsimile, closed-circuit television, and perhaps most
important of all, high-speed data processing channels that can handle
digital information at computer speeds.

"-I. Financial Turnaround
"The job of turning Western Union around from a faltering centenarian to
an eager and aggressive competitor in the communications field was a
difficult one. Before the company could even think about modernization,
it had a raft of complex financial problems to solve. Few outside
the company realized just how close to extinction it was 10 years ago.

"A look at the books shows how deeply in trouble the company was:

"- Operating losses were about $1-million a month.
"- Bond issues totaling $30-million were maturing in 1950 and 1951,
and bond issues and notes totaling $35-million were due in 1960, but no
provisions for paying them were being made.
"- Labor costs were eating up 69.2% of the company's gross revenues,
leaving little money for maintenance or modernization.
"- Message service, Western Union's basic revenue source, was
declining steadily. It dropped from $178-million in 1947 to $146-
million in 1949.
"- Competition was formidable. More and more, business communication
was going over long-distance telephone lines, and American Telephone &
Telegraph's TWX service, a teletypewriter exchange network, was
diverting a tremendous amount of business from Western Union's wires.

"So the yellow glow of the familiar Western Union offices burned red
in Western Union's ledgers. The many local offices it maintained hung
like a weight around the company's neck, pulling it deeper toward
losses. Yet to abandon some of the offices or even limit their hours
required not only months of delay but also expensive hearings.

"-Quick Action - These are problems that Marshall set about solving
when he took over in 1948. He was 47 and had a background in
financing and accounting. Unlike most of his predecessors, he had
long experience in the telegraph business. With the exception of
Joseph Egan, Marshall's immediate predecessor, Western Union's
presidents since the 1930s all had been railroad men.

"Marshall had come to Western Union in 1943 as assistant to the
president when the company absorbed Postal Telegraph, where he had
been executive vice-president. For years, Postal Telegraph had been
on the verge of insolvency, and its troubles provided familiar
experience. Marshall's first actions as president of Western Union
were to organize the company's debts and to start cutting labor costs.

"He took care of debts by selling off property and leasing it back, by
selling pole lines, cashing in securities, and selling such
subsidiaries as Teleregister and American District Telegraph. For
example, the big Western Union building in downtown New York was sold
to Woodmen of the World Life Insurance ... [illegible] company for
over $12-million.

"Then Marshall shocked the board of directors by announcing immediate
plans to spend millions of dollars on a broad modernization and
expansion program for services such as Desk-Fax, a method of
transmitting telegrams by facsimile directly to business offices. He
also accelerated the program for installing automatic switching
centers in 15 cities. He got management behind a big push to get more
private wire business and to increase facsimile services. All of this
cost a lot of money. And with the company's history of steadily
diminishing revenues, it looked risky indeed.

"-Quick Results- Losses in 1949 amounted to nearly $4.5-million on
sales of $181-million. But by the end of 1950, Marshall's moves began
to show results. Unprofitable local offices were being cut out and
automatic switching centers were beginning to increase efficiency.
That year alone, labor costs were cut by nearly $6-million, revenues
went up to almost $188-million, and the company turned a $7-million
profit. There has been no red ink since then, and in 1959 earnings
were a record $16-million on sales of $276-million.

"The company's debt position also has been reversed. All the
outstanding bond issues have been paid in full or advantageously

[Moderator's Note: This is part one of three parts. Part two will
appear in the Digest Friday night, and part three on Saturday. PAT]

From: haynes@cats.UCSC.EDU (Jim Haynes)
Date: Thu, 20 Feb 92 22:52:16 -0800
Subject: Things Looked Rosy for Western Union in 1960 - Part II

[Moderator's Note: This is part two of three parts of an article which
appeared in {Business Week} magazine over thirty years ago, back in
1960. Part one appeared Friday morning; part three will appear here on
Saturday morning. PAT]

"-II. Leap to Modernization-

"So, with its financial house in order, Western Union is in a position
to take off in new directions to insure its future. And in many
respects, never has there been so fortuitous a time for the company to

"During the late 1940s and throughout the 1950s, startling progress
has been made in electronics and communications technology. Two
developments particularly were important to Western Union: (1) the
perfection of high frequency radio relay system - microwave - which
provided a logical and much less expensive way to increased
long-distance facilities; and (2) development of computers and
automatic electronic switching systems, which promised big increases
in efficiency at high reliability levels.

"-Big Jump- With much of its plant obsolete, Western Union was able to
go from old manual systems to the most modern automatic equipment in
one big jump. For example, in the 1940s almost all of Western Union's
services were carried on telegraph channels of a very narrow frequency
range of 170 cycles per second, providing a top communications speed
of only 60 to 100 words a minute. Today, the company's nearly
complete transcontinental microwave system will consist of two
6-million cycle channels capable of carrying broadband television,
handling over 12,000 simultaneous telegraph messages, transmitting
computer tapes at high speed, or carrying voice communication or
facsimile. These so-called broad band signals can't be carried on
ordinary wires, but require coaxial cable or ultra-high-frequency
radio beam carriers.

"Had its modernization started earlier and been more gradual, the
company would have sought to increase its capacity slowly through
intermediate steps. These would have been expensive and yet they
would not have been able to provide the facilities the company now
feels it needs.

"-Decreasing Dependency- The new broad-band system also will reduce
Western Union's dependence on other communications carriers. Western
Union particularly has been dependent on the Bell System for leased
facilities. In the early 1950s, about 70% of Western Union's circuit
mileage was leased, mostly from AT&T.

"Although the number of leased wires has not been reduced in absolute
terms, today their proportion has decreased to about 60%. S. M. Barr,
Western Union vice-president in charge of planning, expects this
percentage to drop to 40% in the next few years, hopes to get the
proportion of leased facilities down to 20% eventually. 'You can
see the kind of growth we expect, then, if we see no reduction and
a possible increase in the number of leased facilities,' he says.

"The big increase in traffic that Western Union anticipates for its
new system is not likely to come from public message services, which
have been the backbone of its business. This type of service basically
is tied to population growth, and to some extent to merchandising
gimmicks such as singing birthday greetings, flowers and candy by
wire, and other special services. [1]

"-Private Expansion- But it does expect its private wire services to
expand greatly. Here, particularly, Western Union's new facilities
will be of help in solving communications problems for private customers.
Western Union already has a good deal of savvy when it comes to tailoring
a special system to a customer's needs. About 2,000 companies in the U.S.
-- among them U.S. Steel, General Electric, Sylvania, and United Air Lines
-- have private communications networks leased from Western Union. And
its bank wire service interconnects 213 banks in 55 cities with pushbutton

"Western Union got into the private systems business without much selling
effort. In most cases, it just waited for customers to come to it. But
those days, like the days of the hand-operated message centers, are
long since gone.

"Now the company is pushing leased systems aggressively, and the results
show it. In 1950, private wire revenues brought in $8-million, or about
5% of Western Union's message business. In 1959, private wires sang a
$52.3-million tune on the cash register. It won't be long, Marshall
believes, before the revenues from private wires top those from public
message services.

"-Meeting the Competition- Until recently, however, Western Union could
not compete directly with AT&T's TWX network, which offers direct
customer-to-customer teleprinter connection through a central exchange
system similar to a telephone network. Several years ago, FCC gave
Western Union permission to purchase TWX from AT&T, but the price
was too high. Now, Western Union is expanding a roughly similar
system called Telex that will offer direct customer-to-customer
dialing. [2]

"Besides direct dialing, the biggest difference between Telex and
TWX is the method of billing customers. Telex customers are charged
only for the time that the facilities are in use plus a 50-cent
connection charge. A short order to a New York broker from, say,
Chicago via Telex might be subject only to a 10-second time charge,
compared with a three-minute basic charge on TWX.

"-Growing Network- At present, Telex service is available only
between New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. But before
yearend, 19 more cities will be added. In 1961, it will cover 23
more cities, and management hopes to get approval from the board
of directors to cover 128 cities by 1962."

[1] One would think that a writer for such an astute publication
as {Business Week} would have noted the price elasticity of personal
communication. This would have suggested that the dropping price of
long-distance telephony would devastate public Telegram service,
as it did.

[2] Dial Telex service began in Germany in 1933, just three years
after AT&T introduced manual TWX service in the U.S. Telex used
modified SxS telephone switching equipment. Western Union imported
the European technology and equipment, even to the 50-baud
teleprinters. One wonders if AT&Ts conversion to dial TWX was at all
in response to competition from Telex, or if it was simply a matter of
taking advantage of the switched telephone network for transmission.

I assume that manual TWX calls were timed using Calculagraphs, just as
voice calls were. Telex used a simpler charging mechanism, no doubt
because it originated long before automated telephone billing. At the
time a Telex call was set up the customer's charging register was
connected to a pulse generator, the pulse rate depending on the
distance to the called station. The charges could be reduced at night
simply by slowing down the pulse generators. At least in Germany
there were Telex PBXs in hotels; in this case the pulses were relayed
to the PBX so that the hotel guest could be billed. Telex was always
customer-dialed long-distance service.

[Moderator's Note: Although telex was always customer-dialed,
provision was made for an operator's help in completing a difficult
connection. Dialing (was it? ) '17' from the telex unit connected the
user to WU's 'manual assistance positions' in Bridgeport, MO. An
operator there communicated with the user by typing back and forth on
the keyboard, like a modern day 'chat', and the operator could then do
what any telco operator could do: complete the connection, verify a
busy terminal, busy circuits, out of order, or number not in service
condition on the receiving end. In addition, the WU manual assistance
operator was used to place 'collect' (reverse charge) connections and
special or third-party billing. I think dialing '19' connected the
user to WU directory assistance where help was given by 'chatting'.
Part three of this article will appear in the Digest on Saturday. PAT]

From: haynes@cats.UCSC.EDU (Jim Haynes)
Date: Thu, 20 Feb 92 23:44:55 -0800
Subject: Things Looked Rosy for Western Union in 1960, part III

[Moderator's Note: This is part three of three parts of an article
about Western Union which appeared in {Business Week} magazine more
than thirty years ago, in 1960. Parts one and two appeared in the
Digest on Friday morning and Friday evening. To continue this series
about Western Union, an issue Saturday overnight/Sunday morning will
include an article from {Fortune Magazine}, March, 1959, also supplied
by Jim Haynes. PAT]

"-III. Building For the Future-

"Western Union has great hopes that Telex will increase its revenue
load many fold. Even so, it's hard to imagine that such business will
fill all the extra traffic capacity that Western Union's new microwave
system provides. And so, once again, President Marshall is counting on
electronics technology to help him out. Three out of every four
systems that Western Union is now installing for customers include
provision for handling data processing information. Communication
between computers, or tape-to-tape digital messages between dispersed
plants, offices, and data processing centers may eventually equal the
volume of voice and message communication. AT&T President Frederick R.
Kappel, too, thinks that's possible.

"-Expandable System- So Marshall believes his modern plant is coming
on stream just in time to catch the new flood of data processing
business. The transcontinental microwave network's two 6-million
cycle channels each are capable of handling transcontinental
telecasts, or thousands of telegraphic, voice, and data processing
channels. The system is designed to carry up to seven broad-band
channels, and these will be added as needed.

"The Transcontinental network, with extension legs, will cost
$56-million, but once the microwave relay towers are in place, the
system's capacity can be doubled for about 15% to 20% of this cost.
Eventually, Western Union will have a great loop of microwave routes
that will interconnect North and South as well as East and West. The
full system may cost $250- million between now and 1970.

"-Government Contracts- Part of the load the new microwave system will
carry is already under contract. The U.S. Air Force hired Western
Union to build an automatic system of data and message handling that
will interconnect all domestic Air Force bases. The combat and
logistics network (COMLOGNET) [1] also costs, coincidentally, $56-
million and will be operated by Air Force personnel. Western Union
also built for the Air Force an international automatic switching
telegraph network, [2] which was completed last May, and has put in a
high-speed weather map facsimile system for the Strategic Air Command.
In addition, it built a nationwide weather map facsimile system for
the Weather Bureau that serves several hundred points.

"To work out new communications applications to keep its microwave
system busy, Western Union has enlarged its engineering and research
departments. The company is now spending about $6-million a year on
research and development -- more than ever before in its history. Of
course, Bell Laboratories spends a lot more. But Marshall has some
pretty definite ideas on how to get the most mileage out of research

"'One problem,' he admits, 'is getting the right kind of people that
can really come through with innovations, and I'm not at all sure it
is possible to hire this kind of person off the street, even if you
have the most wonderful facilities in the world. Some people just
don't like to work for big organizations.'

"-Research Interests- To tap that kind of talent, Western Union has
purchased large interests in a number of small companies that offer
intriguing technological or manufacturing competence:

"Microwave Associates, Inc., a leading developer of microwave
elements such as waveguides, tubes, and semiconductor elements.

"Technical Operations, Inc., a Boston company engaged in contract
research for the government and industry in computing, physics,
mechanical engineering and electronics.

"Dynametrics Corp., another Boston company, which produces electronic
measuring equipment that possibly could be related to future production
control systems. Such systems might fit into an integrated data
processing system built around a Western Union network.

"Hermes Electronics Co., a producer of crystal filters for
microwave uses and designer of part of the telemetering system for
the Titan missile. Hermes also has done a lot of work on computer
translators that change binary code to decimal readouts.

"Gray Mfg. Co., Hartford, manufacturer of switchboards, dictating
machines, and electronic gear.

"Teleprinter Corp., which has developed the smallest page teleprinter
on the market. [3]

"These six companies dovetail so well as a combined research,
engineering, and manufacturing operation that there are incessant
rumors that Western Union intends to meld them into one big outfit.
Marshall denies such an intent, disputes the logic of such a move on
the ground that the talent attracted by these companies comes from
their small size and independence. Actually, Western Union benefits
substantially from the present management. As part owner, it can use
the services of the individual companies and also coordinate their
activities to some degree.

"In addition to these six companies, Western Union also has invested
in Teleprompter Corp. But this company falls into a different
category. Teleprompter is not a manufacturer of communications
equipment. It custom-designs office communication centers, assembling
equipment made by others and mounting it on its own furniture. But
Teleprompter's work in closed-circuit and pay TV and in other fields
jibes with Western Union's interests.

"-Dynamic Outlook- These new interests and Western Union's own
research efforts all point to a greatly expanded future for the
company. Although it still has some problems to solve, the company is
in vastly better shape than it was ten years ago. Instead of sitting
back and being outdated by new technology, Western Union very
definitely is counting on the latest electronic wizardry to win a
bigger piece of the communications market for itself."

[1] COMLOGNET started out as a bunch of IBM card transceiver machines,
which used internal modems to transmit punched cards over private
telephone lines connecting the Air Materiel Command bases. When the
Air Force set out to replace these with a Real communication system,
both the name and the scope of the project changed several times as is
typical of government projects. Names that followed COMLOGNET were
first AFDATACOM and ultimately AUTODIN (automatic digital network),
which became the main record communication system for the whole DOD.
The original terminals consisted of a Model 28 ASR teletypewriter, an
IBM card reader/punch, and a refrigerator-sized electronics package
made by IBM.

Transmission was synchronous using a modified Fieldata code. All
transmissions were encrypted. This was somewhat to the dismay of the
materiel people, who had started out with the card transceivers in
their Base Supply offices; the AUTODIN terminals had to be locked up
in secure Base Communications buildings because of the encryption
equipment. So the supply people had to carry their cards between
buildings on the base. There were also a few magnetic tape AUTODIN
terminals. This was in the days before IBMs tape format became a de
facto standard of the industry; so the terminals had to be designed to
read and write the kind of tapes appropriate to the kind of computer
they were to be used with.

AUTODIN provided both message switching (i.e. store-and-forward) and
circuit switching a la Telex. The switching centers for AUTODIN used
computers made by RCA, originally discrete-transistor machines
contemporary with the RCA 301-501-601 line, later replaced by machines
of RCAs Spectra 70 line. Having to replace all those original
computers after only five years or so must have been terribly galling
to old Western Union hands, as some of the company's own offices were
still using teleprinters made by Morkrum-Kleinschmidt prior to 1930.

[2] This system was Western Union's Plan 55, based on paper tape store
and forward technology. The switching centers used a combination of
electromechanical and vacuum-tube electronic technology. Cross-
office transmission was at 200 wpm, requiring electronic transmitting
and receiving distributors and parallel-input reperforators. Plan 55
was superseded by AUTODIN when the latter acquired Teletype as well as
punched card capabilities.

[3] Perhaps Western Union hoped to use Teleprinter Corp. to free
itself from dependence on AT&Ts Teletype subsidiary. W.U. had made
some previous efforts to build its own teletypewriters. As things
turned out the Teleprinter product, MITE (Miniature Integrated
Teleprinter Equipment), was popular with the military for its small
size and weight but never achieved much of a commercial market.

From: haynes@cats.UCSC.EDU (Jim Haynes)
Date: Sat, 22 Feb 92 00:01:43 -0800
Subject: Early History of Western Union

This is excerpted from {Fortune Magazine}, March 1959 - an excellent
article with nice pictures, "Western Union, by Grace of FCC and AT&T".

"Many legends have blurred the history of Western Union. Contrary to
widely held belief, for instance, the company was not founded by
Samuel F. B. Morse, the portrait painter who invented the first
telegraph. Initially, as a matter of fact, it didn't even use the
Morse patents and, relatively speaking, it was a latecomer to the

"Morse did his pioneering work on the telegraph in the 1830's. By
1850 there were fifty telegraph companies operating between various
cities in the U.S., most of them with licenses on the Morse patents.

"In 1846, Royal E. House of Vermont had come up with a device that
permitted the electrical impulse to imprint letters and numbers on
tape, eliminating the dot-dash symbols. The House printer became the
basis for a new company financed and operated by a group of
Rochester[3] investors headed by Hiram Sibley. This was the New York
& Mississippi Valley Telegraph Co., formed to link upper New York
State to St. Louis. But even as Sibley's plans began to unfold, the
competition in the telegraph industry became chaotic. Some cities
were being served by three competing patent systems. Meanwhile the
war in rates was ruinous.

"Sibley had a simple solution: consolidate all the telegraph companies
into one. New York & Mississippi Valley Telegraph was reincorporated
as the Western Union Co., with licenses on both Morse and House
patents, in New York State in 1856. Its avowed purpose was to bring
together into one company all the telegraph firms then operating
beyond the Hudson -- hence 'Western' Union.

"Western Union grew at a fantastic rate. The New York company gobbled
up hundreds of competing telegraph companies, made exclusive, and
advantageous, deals with the railroads, and reached all the way to the
Pacific Coast. By 1866 it had a virtual monopoly. In the first ten
years of its life its capital had grown from $500,000 to $41 million.

"-The war with the telephone-

"The company's first brush with the telephone came in 1877, when it
imperiously declined an opportunity to buy the invention of Alexander
Graham Bell for $100,000. Soon after, Western Union decided to enter
the telephone field via the American Speaking Telephone Co., which
would exploit voice-communication patents by Elisha Gray [1] and
Thomas Edison. The Western Union system was quite as good as Bell's,
and Western Union began to grow in the telephone field. But in 1878,
Bell sued for patent infringement. As part of the settlement, reached
the next year, Western Union agreed to stay out of the voice business
and Bell agreed to stay out of the telegraph business. But Bell
slipped out of the agreement when it formed, in 1885, a new company
called the American Telephone & Telegraph Co.

"In 1909, AT&T won stock control of Western Union by purchasing the
shares held by the estate of Jay Gould. Theodore Vail, a distant
cousin of the Alfred Vail who had helped Morse start his telegraph
line, was president of Bell at the time, and he planned to integrate
the two companies. To begin with he had himself elected president of
Western Union and began using it to promote the telephone by
encouraging people to phone in their telegrams. Western Union had
already developed a private-wire business with a volume of $3 million
annually, and AT&T took this over, too, adding it to the small
private-wire service it had developed on its own.

"In 1914, to avert government antitrust action, AT&T disposed of its
Western Union holdings, but stayed in the private-wire business.
After AT&T and Western Union parted, expansion of the telgraph system
merely kept pace with the increase in population. By the Thirties the
business was contracting. More and more Americans forsook telegrams
for long-distance phone calls and air mail. Western Union was now
bothered also by competition from the Postal Telegraph Service, a
system formed in the 1880's. Postal had been taken over by Sosthenes
Behn of IT&T in 1928, and thereafter fought Western Union hard. As if
this were not enough, AT&T introduced in 1931 its TWX service, whereby
subscribers could have direct telegraphic connection with each other
through a central exchange. (AT&T invited Western Union to join it in
the TWX network, and later even considered selling the system to
Western Union, but Western Union couldn't pay the price.)

"In the early Thirties a debate began on whether there was enough
telegraph business to support two telegraph companies -- meaning
Western Union and Postal, but not AT&T, which most people thought of
as a telephone service only. The debate was not resolved until 1943,
when Congress authorized a merger of the two companies. An amendment
to the same law authorized Western Union to buy the telegraphic
services of AT&T -- but it did not make it mandatory for AT&T to

The following material comes from a {Business Week} article of
approximately ten years earlier than the {Fortune} article: Nov 19, 1949.

"Western Union's only all-telegraph competitor of recent years in the
domestic field, Postal Telegraph, Inc. started in the 1880s. It
competed with Western Union with indifferent success, but Western
Union was prevented by law from buying its competitor.

"Finally, during the war, it became obvious that Postal couldn't go
on. Operations for several years had been dependent on RFC [2] loans.
So Congress finally permitted Western Union to absorb its competitor
(BW - Aug. 7 '43, p102).

"Western Union was probably not too eager to acquire Postal in 1943.
For one thing, Postal's facilities partly duplicated its own. Further
it had (1) to take over Postal's $12.5-million debt to RFC, and (2) to
guarantee jobs for most of Postal's staff for four years, despite its
own heavy labor costs.

"However, Western Union didn't have much choice. Otherwise the
government might have taken over Postal.

"Another competitor is the government-operated communications systems.
The armed services and the State Department have their own networks of
'record' communications (any means of communication that produces a
permanent record on paper) ..." [This seems like a silly remark to me,
since the government-operated systems were based on private wires
leased from the common carriers.]

[1] This is the Elisha Gray who lost the race to the Patent Office to
Bell. I remember in the 50s or so there was a "Gray Telephone Pay
Station Co.", making pay stations almost identical in appearance to
the Bell phones, for the independent companies. I wonder if this is
connected with the Gray Mfg. Co. that was listed as a Western Union
affiliate in another article?

[2] RFC = Reconstruction Finance Corporation, a Depression-era
government agency in the business of lending money to business firms
to help them get back on their feet.

[3] I wonder if the late Larry Lippman, in clearing out the Western
Union office there, was aware that Western Union was started in

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: (From June, 2005). My thanks to Lisa
Minter for digging this old item out of our archives. We are certainly
lucky to have such a good collection of ancient articles available for
research today, years later. And ... how many of our readers here
remember Larry Lippman? Oh, I know _some_ of you do, even though he
passed in 1991; he was quite regular with his submissions here in the
Digest for many, many years in the 1980's. I recall on several
occassions in email he wrote me (personally) about 1989-90 and asked
if I would _please_ be interested in joining him as he worked to clean
out the (then, recently) closed WUTCO public office in Rochester,
NY. I am _very sorry_ I was unable to meet him and work with him at
the time.

In case you are interested in the Western Union Technical Review, we
have the entire 22 year run of this publication, from 1947 when it
started, through 1969 when it, and Western Union essentially went out
of business in our archives. Look at URL:
(an entire sub-directory, then note the individual issues therein, all
as .jpg files). I wonder if whomever is running this Digest twenty
years from now -- I am sure I will be gone by then -- will do a
reprint on the glory years of AT&T after it has also gone out of
business, as I am sure it will. I know that sounds incredible to many
of you, but think about it. When this Digest began, in 1981, there was
but one company, the 'Bell System'. It has been gone now for twenty
years; and from the 1960-70's everyone _just assumed_ Bell would
be around forever, just like Western Union. Thanks again, Lisa, for
reminding me it was time to do this again. PAT]

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