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Amazing History of the Courier Services Since 1776

The history of Courier Services Industry is too old and interesting. The present Courier Services industry faced many challenges in its history. Now we are using them to make our lives more comfortable. The present beautiful and earning face of any industry was so gloomy and poor that can shook us.

The Courier Industry is as old as our first civilization. In ancient times, couriers and important messages were delivered with the help of animals and birds respectively. In ancient history, messages and parcels were hand-delivered using runners, homing pigeons and riders with horses, camels and bullock carts, stagecoaches, trains, bicycles, automobiles, and finally an airplane.

On induction of cycles and vehicles, courier services got boosted. Time-consuming methods have the obsolete and a new era of quick and fast courier services started. The first recorded movement of goods is in Egypt while making the Great Pyramids. They used many methods of transportation to carry their construction goods from long distances.

As per ancient records, as documented records, the first organized courier services were done in Egypt in 2400 BC. In this courier service, runners carried carved stones as the message from one point to another.

In the present time, in the US in 1775, Revere rode through Lexington to pass the message to the residents. Another example is in the Revolutionary War when Ann Hennis Trotter Bailey (Mad Ann) rode 100 miles from Fort Clendenin to Fort Savannah to bring gunpowder.

Next Courier services were seen in 1852 in the US when Wells Fargo was built. In this expedition, Gold and other items were moved to newly established territories by a well-known company. In 1860, Pony Express was built to provide courier services for mail and small packages in St. Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California. Pony Express covers approximately 2000 miles of routes in 10 days. However, the company was sacked on the invention of telegraphic services in 1861.


History of Courier Services


In ancient times, delivering parcels or packets wasn’t an easy task as we see it in present times. We depended on animals and birds to deliver mail. The main animals to send parcels and important messages were Horses, Camels, Bullock carts, Dogs, etc.


Courier Services by Camels:-


In Australia, Camels were used to deliver parcels as well as mail. Camels have the ability to cover long distances with a load. Courier services with the help of camels were given in Gulf countries, many Asian countries, and Australia. With the invention of the railway far and wide, the use of camels lost their importance.



Courier Services by Dogs:-

Dogs were exclusively used in Australia, Alaska, and Canada for courier services. Dog sleds were used to deliver mail and parcels from 1890 to 1963. One such cart having ten dogs carries a load weighing up to 700 lbs!


In olden times, a traveling bag which was called Portmanteau Mail Bag was used as a mailbag. In the 18th-19th Century, courier services of letters and newspapers were transported in these leather mailbags. These types of bags were opened into two sections.


Portmanteau Mail Bag


History of Courier Services by Horses:-



Horses had great importance in ancient empires both on the battlefield and in messaging services. They were used as relay networks to deliver mail and parcels. The Hanseatic League was documented as having regular courier services by the horse in 1274 and it was run between the principal towns and castles.

By the end of the 16th century, the horse courier services network had stretched out to cover Europe and Asia completely. In 1860 (USA), the Pony Express delivered mail and parcels on a relay network from East to West across North America. Horses are still used to deliver mail and parcels today in remote parts of Tibet, China, and also at the bottom of the Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA.


Ancient Greece History of Courier Services

In ancient Greece, a sophisticated system of courier services was established to facilitate communication and trade between city-states. Known as the “Hermes System,” this network employed human couriers who would run from one city-state to another, carrying important messages and documents. These couriers were known as “hemerodromoi” and were highly respected for their speed and reliability.

The Hermes System played a crucial role in the success of ancient Greece. It allowed for the rapid dissemination of news, ensuring that military commanders were notified of developments on the battlefield and that political leaders could communicate with one another efficiently. The system also facilitated trade, as merchants could send orders and receive updates on the availability of goods in different cities.


Courier Services by Bicycle:-


The bicycles were used for courier services by Bicycle messengers (Cycle Couriers) to deliver parcels, messages, and courier packets. It is still in vogue in the rural areas of many underdeveloped countries and crowded cities. Courier services with Bicycle messengers are also found in metropolitan areas. Courier companies use bike and cycle messengers because it is convenient to carry/pick up in traffic jam areas.


The biggest advantage it is economical, speedy in populous localities, and pollution-free. Parking limitations, fees, or fines also make the bicycle more convenient and helpful to courier services.



The Modern History of Courier Services

The courier services Industry has experienced lots of changes since 2400 BC till today. With innovations in technologies, the industry has also changed its courier delivery vehicles, speed, area, and policies with time. Now it is led by expert carriers and fleets to carry its international load and packages.


With new inventions in the automobile industry, the Courier industry also stepped together with more speed since 1907 and parcels can now be sent all over the world in as little as one day. The latest development of the Internet opened its gateway to international parcel delivery with tracking and allowed the sender and receiver with the current status of their courier.


Latest Technology for Courier Delivery by Drone


In recent years, technological advancements have revolutionized the courier service industry once again. Delivery drones have emerged as a cutting-edge solution for fast and efficient deliveries. These unmanned aerial vehicles can navigate through the air, bypassing traffic and physical obstacles, to deliver packages to precise locations.


Delivery drones offer numerous advantages. They can reach remote areas that are otherwise difficult to access, providing essential supplies to communities in need. Drones also reduce carbon emissions associated with traditional delivery methods, contributing to a more sustainable future. As technology continues to advance, the delivery drone courier service is poised to transform the way we send and receive goods.


Brief timeline developments of modern courier companies are given below for your information.



UPS Express Courier


Jim Cassey is known as the Big Four Carrier.  He started courier services in 1907 in Seattle in the US. He borrowed $100 from his friend and created a courier services company which is now known as UPS today. In 1907, the company began its courier services with just one vehicle on the West Coast of the US.


Jim Cassey started focusing on delivery packages for retailers in 1913 by acquiring a car and soon merged with other competitors. In 1916, he joined hands with Charlie Soderstrom and acquired more vehicles to grow their business. With his partners, Jim Cassey renamed his company i.e. United Parcel Services (UPS) expanded their courier services operation throughout Pacific Cost. By 1930, UPS started offering daily pick-ups and streamlined their business properly.


In 1930, it expanded its operation to the East Coast and started expansion to an already grown business. They also introduced conveyor belt technology to handle packages. In 1953, UPS started their air courier services between the West and East coasts (US). In 1977, UPS started air services to all states in the USA.


UPS started their own aircraft and became an airliner officially in 1988. By 1989, UPS expanded its courier services to more than 175 countries. In 1992, UPS introduced electronic tracking for ground parcels. In 1994, launched its official website, and in 1996, launched online tracking software providing a real-time image of the recipient’s signature to the courier.




In 1946, TNT started their courier services as KW Transport with a single truck. The company was founded by Mr. Ken Thomas who started his services in Australia. 12 years later, KW Transport changed its name to TNT in 1958. In 1978, TNT started its courier services in the UK and became Britain’s first-ever door-to-door next-day delivery service. To fasten their courier services, in 1982, TNT started “Sameday Delivery” courier services in Britain.


In 1997, TNT launched Electronic Proof of Delivery for their courier. They also started to collect parcels within 30 minutes of a customer’s request which further became a trend line for other courier services companies. TNT launched an advanced track and trace system in 2002. This facility enabled customers to track parcels through the web and also with mobiles by WAP, SMS, and email.




DHL was founded in 1969 as the first international courier services provider company. The company provided great services by carrying documents to the customs office for Customs clearance before reaching of flight and provided grounds to pass goods without delay. DHL opened territories in the Far East in 1969.

In 1972, DHL established its offices in Hong Kong, Japan, and Australia and expanded its business overseas. In 1974, the company extended its services to the UK, New Zealand, Fiji, Thailand, and Malaysia with 500000 shipments daily.

DHL opened express courier services in Europe initially. DHL started SMS Services Information initially and was later adopted by other courier services companies.



FedEx was founded on 18 June 1971 in Little Rock, Arkansas, United States by Frederick W. Smith. FedEx initially took delivery of 186 packages on the first night and showed its great presence in the industry. By the end of 2000, FedEx became a global brand of courier services and extended its courier services throughout the globe.

Summary of Courier Industry


Today, the courier industry is flourishing daily with double-digit growth and fulfilling their customer’s daily needs. Starting a Courier Service is a good business idea with low investment and high profit and the E-commerce industry has also added good potential to the courier industry and thus created plenty of options for your delivery needs. It is just a matter of a day or two to deliver any shipment around the world. Businesses and individuals can ship documents and packages to recipients within one business day and within the same business day if sent out by a certain time and the destination is within a certain distance.


Courier resellers in the market have made courier services much speedier and customer’s oriented. Now Small businessmen and individuals get competitive rates and easy access to a vast network. The Internet revolution has facilitated the courier industry and reduced paperwork at a reduced cost of shipping. You can see cheaper costs of courier agencies in comparison to national postal services.


In modern times, the courier industry has extended its delivery network more than ever and widened its wings to remote locations of the world. The present facilities are developing day by day at a rapid rate and making life more convenient than ever before. The history of courier services is a testament to human ingenuity and the constant need for efficient communication and trade. From the use of animal couriers in ancient civilizations to the cutting-edge delivery drones of today, courier services have evolved to meet the ever-changing demands of society.


Each era has brought about new innovations and improvements, enabling faster, more reliable, and more sustainable deliveries. As we look to the future, it is clear that the courier service industry will continue to adapt and embrace new technologies, ensuring that goods and information can be swiftly transported to their intended destinations.