Friday, October 9, 2009

Morse Code (-- --- .-. ... . / -.-. --- -.. .)

-.-. .- -. / -.-- --- ..- / .-. . .- -.. / - .... .. ... ..--..

If you’re scratching you head, don’t worry. Not many people know Morse code these days despite it being a pretty easily learned mode of communication.

Morse code is a form of character encoding that transmits telegraphic information using rhythm. The language uses a sequence of short and long elements to represent letters, numbers, punctuation marks, and special characters. These elements can be made by sound, marks, or pulses in on/off keying where the elements are known as dots and dashes or “dits” and “dahs”.

In 1836, Samuel F.B. Morse and Alfred Vail created the electric telegraph which sent pulses of electricity to an electromagnet at the receiving end of a wire. When the first telegraphs went into operation in 1844 they made indentations on a paper tape when the electric current was transmitted. Morse code was developed so that operators could translate these indentations into readable text.

telegraph "switch" key

In turn, while the firsts telegraphs were making their indentations, they made an accompanying clicking noise. Operators soon learned to translate the clicks directly into text without the aid of the paper strips. It was quickly noted that learning Morse code as a language was more efficient. Subsequently, dots became “dits” and slashes became “dahs”.

The Modern International Morse Code was developed in 1848 by Friedrich Clemens Gerke. Morse code was utilized by aviation and navies until the end of the 20th century. Experienced operators can send 20-30 WPM (words per minute).

If you’ve got the time to spare learning a language that probably will have no practical use in your life, you’re in luck. After researching possible Morse code learning techniques, I’ve found that the most popular, free learning software is available a You can download it right from their site as a program on your computer. It is highly customizable but, I’ll admit, a little difficult to learn how to operate.

On the other hand, if you would just like a catalog of available teaching sources, this link will take you to a large index of helpful websites, products, and organizations.

I want to know…How does the first line read? First person to answer correctly will win a copy of Guns and Roses legendary Appetite for Destruction album. Rock on!

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