Tuesday, 1 January 2008


Over the last week millions of SMS’s with good wishes flew over the country. Daily thousands of genealogical e-mails are sent over the world, thousands of kilometres apart. If only our ancestors had such privileges.

What did they experience? How did they go about communicating over such distances?

Below is a summary of the history of the Post Office of South Africa, today known as Telkom. It was taken from the Telkom Website under the heading History of Telecoms in SA.

Keeping in mind that ADSL broadband was launched in August 2002 – just more than five years ago – it is no wonder that we constantly read that genealogy is now the most or one of the most popular hobbies in the world. Without this tool it probably would not have been the case.

And don't forget: cellphones made their appearance in South Africa less than 14 years ago.

If these things happened in the last number of years, image what we will experience another five or ten years down the line.


1791: First Post Office established at The Castle, Cape Town.
1845: First postage stamp used.
1860: First telegraph installed in April as a single wire earth return telegraph line (circuit run) on wooden poles between Cape Town and Simonstown by The Cape Of Good Hope Telegraph Company.
1876: Telegraph between Cape Town and Kimberly was installed.
1902: The first public "call offices" (pay telephones) were introduced in South Africa.
1910: The Department of Posts and Telegraphs was created.
1922: The multiplex telegraph system ("teletype") opened between Cape Town and Johannesburg. This allowed 4 telegraphs to work in each direction simultaneously on a single line.
1924: The first overseas radiotelegraph message was received from London on 3 December.
1947: 26,000 new services provided -- rural priority. Rental was 7 pounds per year from Post Office.
1950: Between 1947 and 1950: 385,064 new services.
1952: 479,823 services; Cable theft becomes a problem. Direct radiotelephone service between South Africa and Australia in September.
1953-54: First radio link between South Africa and United Kingdom and America.
1957: 82 Auto exchanges exist. Russia launches Sputnik I.
1960-61: Automated trunk dialling. 91 auto exchanges. 879,945 services. Bad debt: R86,023.
1962: National subscribers trunk dialling was introduced. Telex service to America.
1960-65: Trunk Lines between Durban-Johannesburg-Bloemfontein-Pretoria-Vereeniging.
1963: Rental changed from yearly to monthly.
1965: 71 countries connected with Telex. First data transmission commissioned.
1967: First fully electronic telephone in the world, transistor phone.
1968: Microwave services installed between Pretoria and Johannesburg.
1969: First computer installed in Post Office to do billing. Full auto links between Zimbabwe-South West and South Africa in addition to 95 countries - Telex.
1970: Installation of the millionth telephone in South Africa on 29 April. South Africa ranked fifth country in terms of teledensity.
1975: South Africa's first satellite communication was provided by Intelsat. The 2 millionth telephone, a golden Protea telephone, was presented to a Witwatersrand client on 28 May.
1976: South Africa' first television service, TV1, was established on 5 January and offered 37 hours of broadcast per week.
1981: First push button phone (telephone dial was replaced by push-button switching) was introduced with the introduction of the Lorea telephone.
1988: South Africa's first card telephone was installed on 3 March in Pretoria. With a prepaid call card direct dialing was possible worldwide from these public telephones.
1990: On 10 April the 5 millionth telephone was issued in Pretoria.
1994: Main telephone services – 3, 659, 863 and payphones 49, 644. At midnight on the 31 March the South African cellular telephone network went live. Limited operations started on 1 April 1994 and full commercial operation on 1 June 1994. The two companies, Vodacom and MTN each have 50% of the market. The local launch of cellular telephony was among the fastest, anywhere in the world. In no other country has a cellular telephone system begun operation with 10, 000 subscribers on the first day. Vodacom has set up 280 base stations by March 1994.
1995: One of the year’s most exciting developments was Telkom’s debut as an Internet access network platform. Branded as SAIX (SA Internet eXchange), the network entered a pre-commercial phase in October 1995. Longest fibre optic cable in the world link Cape Town and Johannesburg on 24 March. This 1,538 km long cable can carry 622 Mb/s.
1997: Main telephone services – 4, 258, 639 with 94, 937 payphones.
1999: The electronic commerce offering, Beltel, has been replaced by a vastly improved service, CyberTrade. This Web-enabled network offered customers easier, faster and more secure electronic financial transactions. Vodacom: Customer base climbed to 2 million – increase of 50%. Turnover rose by 56% to R6.8 billion and operating profit stood at R1.5 billion.
2001: Internet: Telkom had 55,105 dial-up customers. This was unlimited dial-up Internet access with one e-mail account.
2002: Telkom Internet powered by ADSL was launched in August 2002, providing broadband access to residential and small business. Internet subscribers base grew 31% to 48, 811. The impact of network fraud has been reduced to R174 million, however cable theft increased to R249 million.
2003: Internet customers 98, 690.
2004: ADSL customer base expanded 661% to 20,313 from 2,669. There were 142, 208 internet customers in SA (a 44,1% growth). Telephones: There were 4 821 000 fixed access lines.
2005: There were 225, 280 Internet customers (of which 10,2% were broadband customers) in SA, the largest Internet market in Africa (estimated uses were 5,2 million). ADSL customers increased 188,2% to 58, 532. By 2005, 23% of companies made use of ADSL connections compared with 2% in 2003. In February 2005 Telkom reached a 50,000 customer base on ADSL, 60, 000 by April and 100, 000 by December this year. In July 2005 Telkom.
2006: Internet: 41,2% growth in managed data network sites to 16,887. 146,2% growth in ADSL subscribers to 143,509. 25,7% growth in Internet customers to 284,908. 10,3% growth in operating revenue to R47,6 billion. Telephones: there were 4, 708, 000 fixed access lines.

How many websites are there in the world?

The most accurate answer is "a lot". The number changes literally every hour and since there is no central server, no one can check how many sites there are without looking at every web server. In August 2005, there were 19.2 BILLION webpages, equating to 70,392,567 different websites where each site has on average 273 webpages. -- Yahoo Answers.

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