Why did periods cost more on telegrams rather than full sized letters?

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Why did periods cost more on telegrams rather than full sized letters?

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3 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

Western Union used to charge a flat fee for messages shorter than 10 words, then by each additional word; not character. Although periods and numerals appear to have counted as one word each (according to their pricing guidelines that the string “44.42” would be priced at 5 words).

However, it seems to be an urban legend that people used “STOP” in place of a period to save costs – each would have been priced as one word. Technically it’s true that “STOP” is cheaper per character, but not in a consequential way.

Anonymous 0 Comments

It’s not that periods cost more than full sized letters. It’s that you couldn’t send periods or punctuation at all.

Telegraph operators only had codes for letters/numbers originally, and while many lines may have used extra codes and allowed punctuation some other line might not or only support some subset of punctuation particularly with international stuff. So just letters only ended up being standard.

As such punctuation got spelled out. STOP for end of sentence, COMMA for comma etc. And so to send a period you spent money for a whole word. Though eventually places stopped charging for punctuation.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Now can someone ELI5 about telegram style?