How the Heck Did Couriers Communicate in the ‘Old Days’?

Efficient parcel delivery is such a common thing to most of us that we hardly ever wonder how parcels got from A to B before we had access to all the sophisticated communication technology we have at our disposal today.

Early courier service communication methods

Way back when, before the sixties, transport and courier companies communicated through telegrams and telephone. Telephones, however, were a luxury and an expensive piece of communication equipment, often only available to company directors. To contact a courier driver locally, one had to go to a public phone and for contacting someone overseas one had to be connected by an operator. Needless to say, courier services were not very efficient in those days.

Late sixties and early seventies

By the late sixties and early seventies, we started to see some improvement in the way we communicated. Besides the telephone and telegram, courier and customer could now also communicate via the telex. After a document was typed, it was converted to punched-tape which could be sent via a telephone line to another telex, after which the document could be printed on the other side. It was more or less the pre-cursor to the fax machine.

During the seventies and the eighties

During the seventies and eighties, communication options rapidly expanded. Communication also became less costly and many people now had their own telephone handset on their desk, making contact between courier service and client much more efficient. Typewriters started giving way to word processors, then PCs and by the mid-eighties the average office didn’t look much different from the way it looks today. We had the fax machine at our disposal and when the first mobile phones made their entry, the transport and courier industry was instantly transformed. For the first time ever, courier drivers and clients were able to communicate efficiently and the days where ‘nobody knew what was happening’ soon became a thing of the past. Suddenly, one could get regular updates from the courier service about, say, the stationary traffic on the N1 to Pretoria (or Johannesburg) and, more importantly, the whereabouts of a certain parcel.

Courier service communication methods today

Courier service companies have evolved into super-sophisticated, 24-hour operations that we can’t imagine being without. They use advanced communication methods such as internet and mobile technology, GPS tracking systems, barcode systems and auto-picking systems; all of which make courier services today extremely efficient, fast, reliable and safe. In fact, there is no better way to send your documents and parcels all over the globe than by courier service.

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