We have already recounted the exploits of Cyrus Field to connect Europe and the United States with a submarine cable, and the first telegram, sent to Queen Victoria to the President of the United States who received it sixteen hours later. As the years went by, the United States and Asia were also connected by a submarine cable, an event celebrated in 1903 by another presidential telegram, from Theodore Roosevelt, who on July 4 took just nine minutes to arrive on the other side of the river. Pacific.
But the White House message was given absolute priority: how long would it take a “normal” telegram to go around the world? In 1911 the New York Times decided that the best world to find out was to send a telegram. Which they did at 7 pm on August 20 from the offices of the newspaper which at the time – and for two years – were in Times Square. The text was deliberately sober (“this message has been sent around the world”), but the remarkable feat: to travel 45,000 kilometers. The telegram in fact “made a stopover” in the following cities: San Francisco, Honolulu, the Midway Islands, Manila, Hong Kong, Sagon, Singapore, Madras, Bombay, Aden, Suez, Port Said, Alexandria, Malta, Gibraltar, Lisbon, the Azores and finally back to New York, where he arrived sixteen minutes and thirty seconds after leaving. The newspaper’s throbbing breaking latest news (here the original press clipping) calculated that it had traveled at 46 kilometers per second.
The telegram from the queen that it had taken sixteen hours to cross the Atlantic was from 1858: in 53 years the world had become much smaller.