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A man named Samuel Finley Breese Morse (1791-1872) invented the Morse code. In addition to being an inventor, he was also a painter.
Frequently, long-distance communications were carried in writing or by messengers memorizing them before the development of the telegraph. They could not be delivered faster than the speed of a horse. Messages could also be sent visually, using flags and later, with mechanical systems called semaphore telegraphs. However, these systems required the receiver to be close enough to see the sender, and they were ineffective at night.
Telegraphs, powered by electricity, enable messages to be sent over long distances very quickly. William Fothergill Cooke and Charles Wheatstone invented the first commercial telegraph in 1837. A device was developed that allowed compass needles to line up on a grid containing letters from the alphabet so that messages could be sent. In 1838, Samuel Morse and his assistant, Alfred Vail, demonstrated an even more successful telegraph in which messages were sent in a special code called the Morse code translator .
Telegraph messages were sent by tapping out the letters' codes in the form of short and long signals. A short signal is referred to as a "dit" (represented as a dot). Long signals are called "dahs" (represented by dashes). The code was converted into electrical impulses and sent via telegraph wires. On the other end of the wire, a telegraph receiver decoded the message by converting the pulses back into dots and dashes.
The telegraph was demonstrated by Morse in 1844 to the United States Congress using a now-famous message called "What hath God wrought?".
Samuel Morse, Telegraph Receiver
History of American Museums, Smithsonian National Museum
Morse's original code included pauses, as well as dahs and dits, unlike the one in use today. Nonetheless, a conference in Berlin in 1851 produced an international version that is shown below.
Morse Code is most commonly used to send the following signals:
. . . - - - . . .
and is the distress signal SOS.
As much accuracy as possible is required between dits and dahs, letters, and words in Morse code.
Dit takes - 1 unit of time
Dahs take - 3 units of time
The pause between Dits and Dahs - 1 unit of time
The pause between letters - 3 units of time
The pause between words - 7 units of time
A Morse code message is usually sent at a speed of words per minute (WPM). As a standard word, the word "Paris" (including the space after it) is used. How long will it take? It is explained later in the article. A competent Morse code operator can send and receive messages at a rate of 20-30 WPM.
As Morse aimed to keep the code as short as possible, he decided to make the letters with the most common codes the shortest. Morse came up with a wonderful idea. He approached his local paper. The printers of those days produced their paper by assembling individual letters (type) into blocks, then covering them with ink and gluing paper on top. The printers stored the typed letters in cases with each letter stored in its own compartment. Since they knew they would need more letters when they created the print page, they had more of some letters than others. In Morse's case, he simply counted the number of pieces of type for each letter. He found that the number of e's was more than any other letter, so he gave 'e' the shortest code, 'dit'. Thus, there appears to be no obvious correlation between alphabetical order and symbols.
Paris consists of 50 time units (43 for the letters and 7 for the space after the word).
Why did Morse invent Morse Code?
Before the invention of telephones, messages could be sent over long distances by using electrical pulses to signal the machine to make marks on a moving paper tape. To help translate the marks on the paper tape into readable text messages, a code was required. The first version of this code was created by Morse.
Why is Morse Code the way it is?
Morse code is perhaps the most sophisticated example of the brain's ability to process temporal patterns. Because of its simplicity, the code is simple to transmit. Messages can even be delivered with brief and long blinks of the eyes. During the Vietnam War, the American admiral Jeremiah Denton famously did this.
Who uses Morse Code today?
Morse code grew in popularity in maritime shipping and aviation. Until the 1990s, pilots were obliged to know how to communicate using Morse code. Morse code is now largely utilized by amateur radio operators.
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