The Western Union history describes advanced switching and > communications networks for telegraph traffic, including special > networks for govt and business. It looked to be state of the art for > its day (1960s). I'm still hazy on how Western Union missed the boat > on data communication which was after all their specialty. Some say > WU had a very limited transmission network and depended on Bell for > that "final mile" although in cities WU had quite a broad network. > Or, their Telex wasn't as good as AT&T's TWX.
We could have a very long discussion of why Western Union went under. The business press would say it was simply a matter that they had money going out a lot faster than it was coming in, and no prospects for reversing that situation. As an engineer I would say they did a lot of dumb things in the engineering and marketing end of the business. And it seems to have been government policy to keep W.U. with exactly one foot in the grave at all times.
jhhaynes at earthlink dot net