Before Email There Was Telex

Before email and text messaging, there was telex. The telex network was a network of teleprinters — essentially typewriters connected to a telephone line. The network was created with the purpose of sending text-based messages across long distances. Telex replaced the telegram and was the first common medium for long-distance communications. In fact, in 1958 Western Union started to build a telex network in the United States. Within 20 years, it was the most popular form of business communication in the world. Telex messages were routed by addressing them to a telex address. For example, “14910 ERIC S” was the address for subscriber number 14910, along with the abbreviation for the subscriber’s name — in this case, L.M. Ericsson Communications — and S was the country code for Sweden. By the 1980s, the use of telex was in decline after an increase in popularity of the fax machine. Today, of course, individuals and businesses use email and text messaging instead of telegrams, telex, and fax machines.