Back in the 1960s and 1970s Western Union offered a discount telegram service called the Personal Opinion Telegram. They simply used teleprinters located in every state capitol and in Washington. I recall using the service on occassion.
See:This service seemed to last fairly long, even after conventional telegrams fell out of favor. Would anyone know when it was officially discontinued?
Western Union with the US Post Office also offered a popular and profitable service known as Mailgram. WU would send your message to a teleprinter in a post office where it would be delivered in the next mail. This was a prompt and cost-effective way to communicate important information. Industries used it extensively to officially notify laid-off workers to return to work. While Mailgram didn't offer proof of delivery, it did offer proof of sending which is important*. I remember when Compuserve opened up it offered the option to send a Mailgram and some businesses had a terminal on site to send Mailgrams.
Would anyone know when it was officially discontinued?*The US post office will give you an official receipt "Certificate of Mailing" as proof of mailing (but NOT proof of delivery) for a nominal fee. It is cheaper than Certified Mail and in some cases adequate as proof of response. [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: In this final paragraph, what Lisa is referring to is often times known as 'poor man's certified mail'. It is the theory -- usually correct -- that if you mail something and do not get it back undelivered, it i presumed to have 'stuck' at its destination. We are assuming now that the post office is doing its job also ... big assumption maybe. Ask at the post office for a 'certificate of mailing sticker' when you want to use it. You _must_ present the item to be mailed to the clerk at the counter; _do not_ just drop it in a slot or whatever. You have to _hand_ the letter to them; they will then stamp their cancellation indicia on the envelope and take it from you. You get half of the 'certificate' (which is glued on the face of the mailing piece) also with indicia supplied by them. That is your 'proof of mailing'. "I mailed you the letter, it stuck (that is, I did not get it back undeliverable) so therefore you must have gotten it." The recipient does _not_ sign for it; it is just dumped in their mailbox like everything else that day. It is called 'poor mans certified' since it serves about the same purpose (except for the recieving signature) and it costs considerably less. A certified outgoing letter (which you also have to hand over to an employee at the counter) costs a few dollars; proof of mailing on the other hand costs a few cents more than regular mail. PAT]