F?g. A. The International Morse code used univer-solly in wireless since July I, 1913, and! throughout the World in telegraphy except for America and Canada, sage. As the holder moved forward, llie points on the type worked a lever up and down which regulated the times and intervals electricity flowed to an electromagnet mounted on the pendulum. When energized* the electromagnet moved the pendulum sideways and a spring pulled it back. Each action zig-zagged the line making a series of spaced "V's on the paper. As the machine could not break the continualline, it could not produce dots and dashes.
The code Morse devised to work with this machine required a dictionary suitably prepared with numbered words, ¿y counting the l'V"s and observing the space arrangements, the receiver obtained groups of numbers which he deciphered by means of the numbered dictionary, See Fig, 2, An inverted L\ represented a zero; if it appeared before a figure or group of figures, one read the group as an actual number instead of a word. Numbered codes existed long before this one. Both optical and semaphore telegraphs as well as naval signals used them. But Morse's system produced a permanent record. Speed averaged about five words a minute.
After a laboratory demonstration in September 18 37, Morse hired Alfred Vail of the Speedwell Iron Works at Morris town, N.J., under contract. Then came big changes. At an exhibition of the telegraph at the New York
City University on January H J838, the electro magnet no longer operated a pendulum; it moved a horizon-tat bar, Each time it moved a dot or dash appeared on the moving strip of paper. And the operators, working directly in the language* reached a speed of 10 words a minute. The demonstration marked the first use o! a dot-and-dash code and communication by means of an alphabet.
The original dot-and-dash code named after the Morse telegraph instrument, appears in column VII of Fig. 1- Morses patent application of April 7, 1838 and the patent issued June 20, 1840 contain it, This alphabet p c l i.~i s m 111 Ci language in words and sentences for the first tiitie. The general plan used the simplest and shortest combinations of symbols to represent the most frequently recurring letters oi the English alphabet. In this code, "(T and "j" took the same symbol as did 'Lf and £fcy" and V and Also, the code included seven broken letters,
Morse and Vail didn't use this code when they opened the Washington to Baltimore telegraph line in 1844, They used revised Morse: the code that opened careers to t housands over the next 100 years. This code incorporated thv folowing basis:
The dash 3 units
The space between the elements of each letter 1 unit
The space between two letters . . . . 3 units The space between two words , , . . 6 units Fig, 3 shows the complete alphabet of the revised Morse code used in telegraphy throughout the United States and the Dominion of Canada. Her vised Morse contains six spaced characters: C, O, R, Y, Z, and This arrangement secured economy of space and consequently of time. No letter, except \ exceeds 5 dots or 9 units, and frequently used letters in the English language contain the fewest and shortest elements. Numerals kept within a six dot or eleven unit restriction to distinguish them more easily from the letters.
Revised Morse became a high-speed code in the hands of professionals. Glamorous careers sprang up everywhere. Speedy operators transmitted blow-by-blow descriptions direct from ringside. Others watched big-league baseball games and fed the play-by-play action into newspaper lines. Some traveled West with the railroads. Some died in the middle of a message manning dangerous frontier outposts deep in the Indian lands. How itting the first message sent by Morse—a message composed by the daughter of the U.S. Commissioner of Patents: "What hath God Wrought!" Morses harnessing of electiicit\ soon brought the telephone, a cable linking Europe with America, electric light, an amplifier tube, and wireless.
When you transmit in International Morse, you use four letters from Original Morse and eleven from Revised. he remainder come from the best of various European codes. Developed on the European continent where it got the nickname ^Continental/' International Morse became the universal code for wireless but never for the telegraph,
Austria and Germany share responsibility for the ^Continental*' code. Austria adopted the Morse apparatus after the Emperor saw a demonstration in 1845, Yhree years later two Americans built a 90-mile line conecting Hamburg with CuxhaverL Earlier, the Bavarian Government adopted Steinheils's slow system and installed a short line between Munich and Augsburg. Several of the North German railroads used Wheatstones equipment.
When the Austrian Government appointed Steinheil to organize the telegraph systems ot that empire, he met in Vienna with representatives of the German states of Prussia, Bavaria, Wurteniburg and Saxony in October 1851. After scrutinizing all systems and all codes, the delegates unanimously adopted (he superior Morse apparatus but not the code. They never wanted any part of spaced letters.
From the code of Dr. Clemens ( ¡erke, a telegraph engineer of Hamburg, the Vienna telegraph convention selected letters C5 F, L, and R. Steinheil s code furnished O and P. Letter X and numerals 2, 3, 4, and 5 came from M. Lefferts' code introduced on the American Bain lines in 1849 as did also 6, 7, S and 9 though arranged in reverse order. By this arrangement the first half of the five-digit number act as a check on the second half. Other sources supplied letters J, Q, Y, and Z leaving 15 to come from revised Morse.
Besides the regular letters of the alphabet, International Morse contains 32 other characters. An accented "e* and the apostrophe satisfy the French language, t;ie a, o and ii the German, and the n the Spanish, The period consisted of six dots sent in three groups of two. This stood until September 1, 1939. At the Cairo International Radio Convention in 1938, the delegates agreed to change the period to the symbol used for the comma; This satisfied telegraph companies whose printers produced it as three 'T's, The symbol for the exclamation mark then became the comma, (Telegraph operators never used the exclamation mark except to abuse each other within lie law. A half dozen !!!!!! expressed ironical admiration of another operator's stupidity). See Fig. 4.
England switched to the Continental code when cables laid in 1854 and 1855 connected the British Isles to Holland, Germany and other European countries. Like the Americans and Canadians, English operators didn't want to change; however, they soon succumbed to pressure. Each operator received a copy of the new alphabet with two monltis grace to learn it. When the day for the change arrived, the company found many not ready. Granting of another month produced the same result. Not until the company gcntJtj promised a reduction in pay for those not ready by the end of a tlrird period did the new code go into operation.
Adventure trailed Morse's telegraph as it moved eastward from the business countries of Europe. At army outposts in India, dangerous excitement awaited British operators and sometimes a saber in the back. The British call the code "Morse." Others think of it still as "Continental." But the gain in international scope as the Morse telegraph spread, caused the Continental" moniker to diminish in favor of International Morse."
Was this article helpful?