History of the Courier Industry

People have been moving goods from A-B for several millenniums with the first recorded examples being that of the Egyptians moving materials vast distances to build the infamous pyramids. There have been many methods of transporting goods throughout history from human messengers that would have to physically run many miles, to homing pigeons that would fly home to deliver important documents. The first documented organized courier service dates all the way back to Egypt in 2400 BC where runners would courier documents carved in to stone.


Delivery by Animals


Before the invention of motor vehicles, delivering parcels wasn’t an easy task and man had to rely on our four legged and winged friends to help deliver mail and packages. Here’s some of the animals that were used as couriers before the extensive delivery networks that we have today were implemented:



In Australia, Camels were used to carry mail and parcels across long distances up until 1929 when the implementation of railroads replaced them.



Also in Australia, as well as Alaska and Canada, dogsleds were used to carry mail and parcels from 1890 all the way to 1963. 10 dogs would pull a load weighing up to 700 lbs!


Ancient empires used comprehensive relay networks to deliver mail and parcels by horse. The Hanseatic League were documented as having a regular courier service by horse as early as 1274 which ran between the principal towns and castles. By the 16th century a horse courier network had expanded to cover the whole of Western Europe. In the USA between 1860 and 1861 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.


The Modern Courier Industry

The courier industry has come a long way since the days of delivering by horseback and is now led by expert carriers and numerous resellers with comprehensive networks spanning all over the globe. Developments in technology and the internet has opened up national parcel delivery to every one and has allowed for vast improvements to the services offered by the biggest players in the industry. Below is a brief timeline of how the modern courier industry has developed over the last century:



The first of the big four carriers was born when Jim Cassey borrowed $100 from a friend and started a messenger service  in Seattle which would eventually become UPS.


1913 -1918

Jim Cassey’s company focuses on delivering packages for retailers after acquiring a car. Jim Cassey soon merged with his competitor and in 1916 the company was joined by Charlie Soderstrom who introduced the brown colours and even more vehicles.


1919 -1930

Jim Cassey and his partners establish the name United Parcel Service and expand their operation to include most cities throughout the Pacific Coast. UPS were soon offering daily pick-ups, streamlined documentation and were the first to debut conveyor belt technology for handling packages. By 1930 UPS had expanded to the East Coast of the USA



In 1946, K.W Transport was established with a single truck by Ken Thomas in Australia, changing its name to TNT 12 years later.



UPS operates its own aircraft and officially becomes an airline.



UPS introduces electronic tracking for ground parcels



UPS launches online tracking software providing a real time  image of the recipient’s signature.


2004 – Present Day

The introduction of companies like Urban Valley Transport offer a new alternative to consumers looking for fast, reliable and secure shipping solutions.

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