Nostalgic memories of the home Telegraph system

This week, I turn 30. A birthday gift from my father in the form of a GUEST POST.

You must have read the news item that the Indian Telegram Service will be discontinued by BSNL from 15th July. Although it is long overdue, with fast developments in communications technology, it pains to hear that a technology and a service which used to be the means of quick and inexpensive communication from-and-to any place in the country, and survived for over 160 years, is likely to be put to rest.

Most of us of yesteryears carry memories of receiving congratulatory messages, emergency communications (good as well as sad) etc., through the telegraph.

My nostalgic memory takes me to my childhood days of 1960s, in the town of Eluru, Andhra Pradesh, when we all cousins used to get together for summer holidays at my mother’s ancestral house and have a pleasant time playing and exploring things.

One such exploration was designing and developing a raw Telegraph system. Having studied the way this system works in school science books, we embarked on a journey to develop one of our own.

Putting on our scientist hats, we picked up 2 small mild steel rods from a neighboring car repair shed and bent them so that they took the shape of a horseshoe. They would act as electromagnets, at different stations.

The magnet windings were made from a discarded radio antenna’s cotton insulated copper wires and simple torch-light batteries were used to energize the system.

A cousin and me had learnt the Morse code and planned the tapping sequences to transmit the desired messages.

Once everything was in place, we sent out a message from one location of our house to another.

We were extremely thrilled when our system worked flawlessly! We had successfully created our very own version of the telegraph system with practically zero cost!

The success of that small experiment boosted our enthusiasm so much that we explored and developed many more systems such as electrical calling bell, emergency lighting system (with discarded car batteries from the neighboring car shed) etc. Our work was  not just limited to this field – a periscope and soap also joined our long list of inventions, despite the fact that we had very limited knowledge acquired through books.

Today’s news item on discontinuation of Telegraph service took me back to these nostalgic memories. Those days we had so much free time and freedom to explore and experiment so many things. Those were the days!

P.S. My father’s childhood adventures left a lifelong imprint – he went on to pursue his higher studies in engineering and has been associated with the technical field some way or the other, ever since. He passed away on 15th Oct, 2016.

7 thoughts on “Nostalgic memories of the home Telegraph system

  1. Thanks for all your comments. I am happy that Pranav’s blog is giving us a platform to share our experiences and views. Although they are old, I am sure that the spirit behind them is relevant to the current generation. In the context of my blog, the opportunity provided by my grand parents and parents nurtured our creativity to try and build several gadgets from first principles. It also gave us strong foundation to perform in our activities. I hope that we have been able to do the same for our youngsters.


  2. Happy Birthday Pranav !!! Two occassions… beautiful gifts.. Father’s day and your birthday…Childhood memories to his child..


  3. Nice post. It is really the end of an Era. Still unable to digest that Telegrams will be no more… 😦


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