A Brief History of the Courier Industry

Most of us have had to use a courier service at one time or another, but how many of us have ever pondered on the origins of the courier service? If you’re a courier yourself, or have worked within the industry, you might have come across some historical facts, but for the rest of us here’s a brief history.

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Where It All Started

It’s not just the modern world that has demanded the services of a courier. People have been moving goods between destinations for several millennia. The first documented examples came from the Egyptians in 2400 BC, when messengers would courier ‘paperwork’ – in stone!

Animal Couriers

In the early days, along with human runners, homing pigeons would have to deliver important documents and packages. In Australia camels were used to travel long distances until 1929, and in Alaska and Canada dogs were used to pull anything up to 700lb by sleigh from 1890 to 1963. However, horses were the most popular animals to connect delivery networks, even during WW1. The USA’s equivalent took off in 1860-1861 with the Pony Express, which worked on a relay network across North America.

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Early 1900s

With the inventions of railroads, automobiles and interstate highways, the delivery system advanced rapidly. From 1907, Jim Cassey revolutionised how distribution worked after building up a business which saw the launch of the United Parcel System, now the oldest running courier company. It soon expanded from road and rail to offer air services.

Late 1900s

This is when the courier industry really expanded with the take-off of DHL (1969) and Fedex (1973), offering services anywhere from the Far East to the UK. By 1980 another new company, TNT, began to offer a door-to-door service in the UK. The 1990s saw companies branching out further with developments in technology: the introduction of online tracking software, electronic Proof of Delivery and the launch of websites. This evolution has magnified dramatically and means that companies such as https://www.uk-tdl.com offer a range of services to the customer, even when you need a man and van in Slough.

Today’s courier services have a comprehensive network delivering to far corners of the world. The courier industry has made the service affordable to both small businesses and individuals so that items are delivered in a timely manner.


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