Telegram vs Telegraph: Difference and Comparison

Before mobile phones and social media was a thing, people used to rely on other techniques to transfer important messages. Sending messages and information wasn’t as easy as it is today.

In the past, people used the Telegraph to send telegrams to communicate with others. The two terms might look connected, but they differ under different parameters. 

Key Takeaways

  1. Telegram is a modern messaging app that offers end-to-end encryption and cloud-based storage. At the same time, telegraph refers to an older communication system that transmits messages using electrical signals and Morse code.
  2. The telegraph was a crucial invention in the 19th century that revolutionized long-distance communication, whereas Telegram is a popular app used for instant messaging, voice calls, and group chats.
  3. Modern communication technologies have largely replaced telegraph systems, while Telegram continues evolving and gaining users’ popularity.

Telegram vs Telegraph

The telegraph transmitted messages using a series of electrical impulses that were translated into Morse code, while telegram transmitted messages using a system of words and numbers. The telegraph was a complex and technical system, while telegram was simpler and accessible to the general public.

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Telegrams were the most common way of communication, both officially and unofficially. A telegram is a written message that crosses multiple steps to reach the recipient.

At first, the telegram is sent through wires, and then the received message is written or printed on paper. Now, the telegram is delivered to the recipient by hand or teleprinter. 

Telegraph was the first and most widely accepted form of the messaging system until the late 20th century. The device used electrical signals to transfer the messages to the receiver.

The Telegraph delivers messages in visual or audible forms at the receiver’s end. 

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonTelegramTelegraph
MeaningThe term Telegram means a distant letter.The word Telegraph means a device that writes at a distance.
PurposeThe telegram contains the message that the sender is sending.Telegraph sends the messages across the globe.
StructureIt is a message either handwritten or printed on paper.It is an electrical gadget with magnetic needles and keys.
Operational RequirementsTelegram is sent using a device called the Telegraph.Telegraph requires electromagnets to operate and send morse codes.
UpgradationsTelegram doesn’t require an update.Telegraph has been upgraded to a better and more convenient form with time.

What is Telegram?

A telegram is a message sent to people using an electrical device, which the British Post Office developed to deliver urgent messages.

After discovery, telegrams were widely used due to the absence of telecommunication systems and internet services. It was a reliable and most convenient method to communicate with others. 

The term telegram is derived from two Greek terms, i.e., tele and gramma, which means distant letters. Telegrams are written messages that can travel long distances as electrical signals through wires.

Hence, telegrams were used for both official and unofficial purposes to send urgent messages.

To send a telegram message, people wrote letters and sent them through wires to the receiving end. The receiver decodes the visible or audible signals and writes or prints on paper.

Then, the written message is delivered to the concerned recipient. Telegrams were highly used during the world wars to pass messages to and from soldiers. 

Initially, the cost of sending a telegram wasn’t affordable for all, as the telegraphs were costly. After the Telegraph’s price dropped, the telegram became the most loved method of communication among people.

Hence, automated devices like teleprinters and punched tape transmissions were introduced to tackle the message traffic. 

telegram 2

What is Telegraph?

Telegraph is a communication device that solved the issue of distant communication around the globe in the past. The device helped pass or send the messages in coded form to longer distances.

To date, several countries have come up with multiple telegraph systems, but the electric Telegraph is the most preferred device. 

Telegraph term combines two Greek terms tele means ‘distant’ and graphein means ‘to write’. The Telegraph first came into the picture towards the end of the 18th century.

Initially, people were using some of the earliest methods of communication. Later, the advanced version, i.e. the Electrical Telegraph, was used for better and faster communication. 

The electrical telegraph system required a few elements, including a key, a battery, wires connecting two stations, and a receiver. The device consists of five magnetic pointers or needles pointing towards letters and numbers using electrical current.

Hence, any information can be passed to different stations connected through wires by using the electrical current. 

The messages sent through the wires are written using morse codes named after Samuel Morse. Morse assigned different letters and numbers with dots and dashes to simplify complex messages.

While assigning, he gave frequently used letters like ‘A’ a simple code and rarely used letters like ‘V’ a complex code. 

Using an electrical telegraph made it possible to send messages across nations. With time, wire connections reached multiple countries, making communication easier.


Main Differences Between Telegram and Telegraph

  1. The main difference between Telegram and Telegraph lies in their name. A telegram means a letter that contains the message we send to a distance. Telegraph is a device that helps write and send messages from a distance. 
  2. Telegram consists of the sender’s message to pass the receiver. In contrast, Telegraph is a device that carries the message from one station to the other. 
  3. A telegram is a piece of paper with a message handwritten or printed on it. The Telegraph is a communication device that contains five magnetic needles and keys. 
  4. To send a telegram, we will need a telegraph, which is the operational requirement. In contrast, the Telegraph needs electricity and electromagnets to operate. 
  5. Generally, devices or systems require upgrades with time. Telegram is a message; hence, it doesn’t need an upgrade. In contrast, telegraph or distance messaging systems have seen many upgrades. The last but the most accepted Telegraph was the electric Telegraph. 
Difference Between Telegram and Telegraph

Last Updated : 20 July, 2023

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