One hundred years before the popularity of cell phones, “text messages” were popular with bored telegraph operators who would message their counterparts on the other side of the country. While we take it for granted imagine the novelty of being able to regularly communicate with someone thousands of miles away in the year 1890.
Telegraph operators on opposite sides of the country had some time to get to know each other when they weren’t busy sending other people’s messages. “Metaphorically they shake hands cordially twice a day — when they begin work and when they end it. And when business is dull they hold long conversations, with hundreds of miles — perhaps thousands — separating them, as two friends might do over a dinner table.”
What really caught my eye, though, is that the abbreviations they used seem a lot like the abbreviations used in today’s text messages.