O.G. AMERICA ONLINE
A half-century before Rob Hale began selling phone lines to businesses, a then-108-year-old Western Union had transformed itself from a “onetime woebegone has-been” into a “top comer in the communications eld” with its own plan to tap the corporate world for fast growth: its private wire business, which generated $42 million a year ($430 million today) handling internal communications for customers such as United Airlines, the Pennsylvania Railroad Company and the United States Air Force.
Resplendent in a silk shantung suit, Walter Peter Marshall, troubleshooting president of Western Union, stood beside Brigadier General Bernard Woo on at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii one day last month, a wide grin spreading over his high-cheekboned face.
Flicking a switch, General Woo on formally put into service the Air Force’s spanking new communications network, linking Hickam with Fuchu, Japan, and the U.S.’ 250-station, 250,000-mile high speed electronic private wire system, all of it designed, built and installed by Western Union. —Forbes, August 1, 1959