From foot messengers to the technology of tracking packages, there is no doubt that the courier services industry has come a long way from its beginnings.

A Humble Start

Egypt: The earliest records that we have about the transportation of goods arefrom ancient Egypt. At those times, couriers included the delivery of documents that had been carved in stone. Another instance is when the ancient Egyptians had to move various materials over great distances to build the famous pyramids.

Greece: One of the most celebrated couriers from Greece is the one that participated in the Battle of Marathon. He ran 26 miles to announce victory at Athens, and his exertion caused him to collapse and die. The Olympic Marathon is run in his memory.

Did You Know?
Courier is derived from currere (Latin), which means ‘to run’

Animal Couriers: Before motor vehicles, a variety of animals like camels, dogs, horses, and of course, carrier pigeons, were used to send messages.

The Royal Mail

The Royal Mail is one of the UK’s oldest institutions. They delivered their first letter in 1516. The Master of Post was established by King Henry VII to maintain communication between the King and the appointed Scottish Privy Council. These deliveries involved horseback messengers traveling for days to deliver the King’s letters.

Did You Know?

The route became famous in 1603 as Sir Robert Carey rode from London to Edinburgh in 3 days to inform James VI of Scotland of the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth I. Today, the Great North Ride (436 miles) is a yearly tradition for many horse riding enthusiasts.

Development of Better Logistics Routes

About 1605, people saw the increasing popularity of horse-drawn carriages, which were available for hire in London. Earlier, the routes were little more than tracks and this development led to a need for more developed and larger roads that were not only horse-friendly but also catered to carriages. This was a primary factor in the development of an effective logistics route, and the foundations of the national courier network were laid.

The Industrial Revolution

With the Industrial Revolution, all industries saw major developments, and travel and logistics were at the heart of it. Train lines, steamships and communications technology was developed beyond recognition, which meant that larger loads of products and parcels could be sent.

The Modern Courier Delivery Service

It may be said that the modern courier service as we know it today began with a US entrepreneur, Jim Casey, who started his messenger service in Seattle when he had only a hundred dollars in hand. This start-up was the one that is today known as United Parcel Service (UPS).

That folks, in a nutshell, is how courier services came to be!