Is Morse Code Used Today? — The Brief History and Importance of Morse Code
What is Morse Code?
According to the online Merriam Webster Dictionary, Morse Code is defined as, "either of two codes consisting of variously spaced dots and dashes or long and short sounds used for transmitting messages by audible or visual signals."
Basically, Morse Code was a means of early communication using dots and dashes or long and short sounds that correlated to each letter of the Latin alphabet. These messages were typically sent by electric telegraph (also known as a straight key) or by light signals.
The first Morse Code is known as the American Morse Code because that is where it originated, but there are now multiple versions of Morse Code, such as the International Morse Code for languages that also use the Latin Alphabet, the Japanese version the Wabun Code, or the SKATS which is the Korean morse code.
Who Invented American Morse Code?
Samuel Finley Breese Morse is credited with the creation or invention of Morse Code, who it is named after. He was an American inventor who was also a well known painter. He was born on April 27, 1791 in Charlestown. He graduated from Yale in 1810 and began his career as a painter. Samuel Morse helped found the National Academy of Design before he pursued his passion of invention.
In the 1830's, Morse began work on the first electrical telegraph, which was a means of communicating using electricity. He received his first patent for the electrical telegraph in 1837.
How does it work?
Morse Code was used to send messages over long distances. Morse code messages can be sent using light or by pulses. In Samuel Morse's time, the most common way to send a pulse message was via a telegraph. A telegraph, also known as a straight key, sends pulses in the form of electrical current based on the message that was "tapped out" using the telegraph key.
Telegraph operators would then key messages using a series of clicks based on the spelling of the words of the messages. An operator on the receiving end would hear the clicks and translate them back into words.
With Morse Code, each letter of the alphabet was translated into short and long signals (also known as dots and dashes). The pulse length of a dash is equal to the pulse length of three dots. Eventually, when Morse Code was adapted to radio, the dots and dashes began being referred to as "dits" and "dahs" based on the sound of the radio pulses.
Morse Code By Sea
What was the Importance of Morse Code?
Before the invention of Morse Code and the telegraph, messages were still handwritten and carried by horseback. Morse Code changed the way we communicated. In the time of its invention, it was the fastest long distance form of communication.
Morse Code allowed for ships at sea to communicate over long distances using large lights. Morse Code was especially pivotal during the second World War because it greatly improved the speed of communication. Naval war ships were able to communicate with their bases and provide critical information to each other. War planes also used Morse Code to detail locations for enemy ships, bases, and troops and relay them back to headquarters.
The Universal Code for SOS
The most commonly used signal for distress is SOS in Morse Code. It is represented as
. . . - - - . . .
(Three dots, followed by three dashes, followed by another three dots)
Is Morse Code Still Used Today?
Morse Code is still widely recognized, even if it is not as widely used as it once was. Morse code is still popular among amateur radio enthusiasts, although proficiency in Morse Code is no longer a requirement to obtain your amateur radio license.
Morse Code is most prevalent in Aviation and Aeronautical fields since radio navigational aids such as VOR's and NDB's still identify in Morse Code. The US Navy and Coast Guard still use signal lamps to communicate via Morse Code.
Morse Code has also been used as an alternative form of communication for people with disabilities or whom have their abilities to communicate imparied by stroke, heart attack, or paralysis. There have been several cases where individuals have been able to use their eyelids to communicate in Morse Code by using a series of long and quick blinks to represent that dots and dashes.