The Evolution of Postal Delivery Systems: From Ancient Egypt to the Modern World

TLDR Postal delivery systems have evolved over time, from the first organized system in ancient Egypt to the development of the Cursus publicus in ancient Persia and the introduction of major changes by Roland Hill in the Royal Mail. The postal system has played a significant role in the spread of ideas and information throughout history, although its importance has diminished with the rise of electronic communication.

Timestamped Summary

00:00 Postal delivery systems have been around since ancient times, with the first known organized system for sending messages being developed in ancient Egypt around 2400 BC.
01:59 The first real generalized postal system was developed in ancient Persia, known as Chaparkana or courier houses, which allowed for the delivery of messages between any location within the Persian Empire.
03:44 The ancient Roman postal system, known as the Cursus publicus, was based on the Persian system and allowed for a single courier to deliver a message from start to finish, which was later modified by Augustus to allow the recipient to ask further questions; this system also became the basis for the postal system in the Byzantine Empire.
05:26 The postal system in Great Britain in the 19th century was inefficient and expensive, with recipients having to pay for delivery before knowing the contents of the letter and fees being based on distance and number of pages; however, members of Parliament were able to send mail for free, leading to widespread abuse of the system.
07:12 Roland Hill introduced major changes to the Royal Mail, including making the sender pay for postage, eliminating distance delivery charges, charging by weight instead of number of pages, and introducing the first postage stamp, the Penny Black.
09:03 The Treaty of Bern established the Universal Postal Union, which created a flat rate for mailing letters anywhere in the world, equal treatment for foreign and domestic mail, and allowed countries to keep the money collected for international postage.
10:54 The postal system played a major role in the development of science and technology, as shown by the correlation between the presence of post offices and patent applications, and while it may not be as important now due to electronic communication, it played an enormous part in the spread of ideas and information that helped create the modern world.
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