Telex Envy

Not too many years ago, having a cable address made a business easily reachable by public telegram from within New Zealand and overseas. The unique cable name, which was usually a contraction of the company’s name or a word which described their business such as “BASINS” for a company manufacturing handbasins, were tantamount to a trade name and a sign of success and distinction. They were proudly displayed on company letterhead as a status symbol.

This was also the time when companies proudly declared the number of automatic telephone lines their business utilised to show how busy they were. “Phone 6809 (5 lines)” often appeared in different forms on business letterhead.

With the growth of the telex service, a telex number and answerback were as jealously guarded as a website name might be today. Companies with shorter names could get their whole company name into a seven letter telex answerback e.g. DALGETY NZ50505 while other companies developed a whole new persona such as Williams & Kettle with their WILKET answerback.

Time has moved on and the telex service is no longer available in New Zealand.

With the growth in Internet usage, a website name is now a sign of distinction and success. For many businesses, their website is their front door for customers who do not wish to physically visit them. The website is more universally available, offers a method for promoting products and customer contact, and the associated tools let the company know how many people are visiting from “cyberspace.”

Unlike the telex, the company’s identification is not restricted to seven characters dictated by a mechanical device. The company can choose to use its proper name or a pseudonym and utilise search engines to help customers find it.

Leave a Reply