50 years ago: Cayman on Telex

In the 21 Aug. 1969 edition of the Caymanian Weekly, a precursor of the Cayman Compass, the front page carried a report on a new speedy communication device – the telex.

The new Telex service recently installed by Cable & Wireless (West Indies) Ltd. in George Town, Grand Cayman, was officially opened on Monday at 9:30am. At this time, the channel to London was open and His Honour the Administrator, Mr. A.C.E. Long, pressed the button on the Printergram machine operated by Mr. Alan Francis.

The following message was then relayed by the Telex system:

“To Henry H. Eggers, Managing Director, Cable & Wireless (West Indies) Ltd.: After 300 years of connection with Britain, the Cayman Islands is proud of this new link forged of the 20th century technology, not only with Britain, but with the world.

“On behalf of the Government and people of the Cayman Islands, I send greetings to the Chairman and Directors of Cable & Wireless for this achievement which will play an important part in our development. – A.C.E. Long.”

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Straight back came the reply, typed by the machine: “It give me great pleasure to reply to your inaugural message over the new Cayman Telex link with the world – and to extend cordial greetings on my own behalf and on behalf of the Chairman and Directors of C&W. Telex is an invaluable means of international communication and I am confident that this new service which we are providing will play its part in furthering the development of Cayman and in increasing business opportunities. Please accept my personal best wishes. – Henry H. Eggers.”

Then came a message to the Hon. B.O. Ebanks, Jr., from Mr. A.A. Willett, Director, C&W. “On the occasion of the opening of Cayman’s new Telex link, I would like to take the opportunity of extending greetings and good wishes. I recall with pleasure our meeting earlier this year and hope it will not be too long before we renew acquaintance in George Town. Kindest regards, Archie Willett,” to which Mr. Ebanks responded: “Thanks for your greetings. The people of Cayman welcome and appreciate this additional service and contribution by C&W to our development.

“We look forward to implementation of your proposed expansion to complete our communications. – Benson Ebanks.” …

The Cayman Telex Service is at the moment operating on two channels but is expected that the system will be expanded in the future. At the moment, local banks and business firms are linked with the system and there will shortly be a public booth at Cable & Wireless, CTO, to enable others to use the service.

Telex uses a machine which operates from a typewriter-type keyboard and which automatically conveys, by radio or telephone cable, message direct to the correspondent concerned …. Telex is designed to give quick service and will be cheaper for lengthy communications, relaying them at a speed of 66 words per minute.

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