The establishment and history of The International Telegraph Union

7.4.2014 Nicky Herak
The global interest in the application of telegraphs encouraged the formation of the International Telegraph Union (ITU) in 1865 by the Paris convention. The main objective behind the formation of the ITU was to regulate the standards for the application of telegraph for global communication. In 1866, the ITU completed the groundbreaking feat of laying cables across the Atlantic ocean.

During the 1908 International Telegraph Conference in Lisbon, plans were made to build a monument in Berne to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the ITU in 1915. There was a global competition for the design of the proposed building. It was the Italian sculptor from Bologna, Giuseppe Romagnoli who eventually won the design competition. The first world war proved to be a hindrance in the completion of the monument, but it was eventually completed and inaugurated in 1922.

The monument theme in Berne, Switzerland stands for a theme that the souls of all people are united through the ITU. It is the central figure that represents the organization, while the arms unite all the other figures that stand for themes like family, current knowledge, future knowledge, labor, fertility and suffering.

The Swiss Government unveiled a special bronze plate bearing the list of member states of the ITU during the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Union. The delegates were present at the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference, Montreux and the anniversary ceremony was organized at Berne in October, 1965. The plate was fixed behind the ITU monument, taking the place of the original inscriptions. It bore the list of the 20 nations that were present at the first International Telegraph Convention in 1865 and the Member States of the ITU in 1908.

The International Telegraph Union was renamed the International Telecommunication Union, and the use of telegraph around the world has ceased to exist in commercial communication settings. However, it continues to find applications in scientific research settings.

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