The History of Morse Code - K8UTT

The History of Morse Code - K8UTT

The History of Morse Code Ford Amateur Radio League David Treharne, N8HKU November 9, 2006 The Task In the 1800s, communication over wires had been established. Europe, French, British, Germans all had patents on various telegraphy designs, by such people as Charles Wheatstone They were, however, complicated and unreliable.

An American Republic prize existed for an efficient communications system that covered the Atlantic Coast. Prior communications were done by optical signalling, which had distance and weather conditions issues. Samuel Morse Born: April 24, 1791 In Charlestown, MA Education: Degree in Art and Sculpture from Yale

University Occupation: Painter of Portraits and other art. Created over 200 portraits during his lifetime. Got involved in Electricity later in life. Communications Issues Samuel Morse found existing communications frustrating. During one of several trips to

Europe aboard the Sully in 1832, he discussed electricity and long distance communication with Dr. Charles Thomas Jackson, a medical doctor who also worked with electricity and magnetism, and who dabbled with the telegraph himself. In Pursuit of a Design In 1835, Morses career as

an artist was not feeding his family. Knowing that others were working on the telegraph as well, he got to work on his own design. Charles Wheatstone was one of the competitors. Wheatstone used 5 circuits, two were energized to send a letter. J, C, Q, U, X and Z had to be omitted, though, making words difficult. Morses Early Work

Morse was working on a device that could print out the code on a piece of paper, allowing unattended reception of the code. His original code used numbers to equal words He quickly determined that this method was not going to work well, though. The conversion of numbers to words was too limiting.

The Alphabetic Code Morse developed the code for both letters and numbers around 1935. This allowed for unlimited communication. Here is an early aid for learning the code. Timeline to Demonstrations 1838: Demonstrated messaging on 3 miles of wire around New York University Exhibition Hall 1843: Morse finally secured a $30,000 grant

to make a demonstration Original Line made between Baltimore to Washington DC. Insulation failures prevented underground installation, B&O Railroad Counsel John Latrobe convinced Morse to string the wires on poles along the rail track. Convincing Demonstration May 24, 1844: Messages were sent back and forth between Baltimore and the Supreme Court chamber, including the infamous phrase: What Hath God Wrought

Messages from the capital to Baltimore in the ensuing days and weeks gave the Baltimore Patriot the scoop over rivals, and the value of the telegraph as a communication media was firmly established. Newspapers touted the transmission via Telegraph across their mastheads. Start of Commercial Business Samuel Morse made his first patent application in 1837. Attempted to sell his invention to the government for $100,000.

Started the Magnetic Telegraph Company in 1845. Western Union bought up the various telegraph companies in 1857. Royalties made Morse quite wealthy by the end of the Civil War. Final Tidbits Telegraph: Greek: Tele=Distant, Graphos= Writing Morse attempted to choose the shortest code for the most often used letters. He toured

New York print shops and counted their letter type to choose the final code. When Marconi sent the first wireless transmissions overseas, Morse Code was the logical method, easy to use, and well known to all telegraph operators (he sent s) Credits QST: April 1991: Samuel F. B. Morse, Radios Mysterious Progenitor http://www.morsehistoricsite.org/general/links.html http://www.faradic.net/~gsraven/index.shtml#contents

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