Morse code ( From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia )
Morse code is a method for transmitting information, using standardized sequences of short and long marks or pulses — commonly known as "dots" and "dashes" — for the letters, numerals and special characters of a message. Originally created for Samuel Morse's electric telegraph in the mid-1830s, it was also extensively used for early radio communication beginning in the 1890s. However, with the development of more advanced communications technologies, the use of Morse code is now largely obsolete, although it is still employed for a few specialized purposes, including navigational radio beacons, and by CW (continuous wave) amateur radio operators. Morse code is the only digital modulation mode designed to be easily read by humans without a computer, making it appropriate for sending automated digital data in voice channels.
Morse code can be transmitted in a number of ways: originally as electrical pulses along a telegraph wire, but also as an audio tone, as a radio signal with short and long pulses or tones, or as a mechanical or visual signal (e.g. a flashing light) using devices like an Aldis lamp or a heliograph. Because Morse code is transmitted using just two states — on and off — it was an early form of a digital code. International Morse code is composed of six elements:
What is called Morse code today actually differs somewhat from what was originally developed by Morse and his assistant, Alfred Vail. In 1848 a refinement of the code sequences, including changes to eleven of the letters, was developed in Germany and eventually adopted as the worldwide standard as "International Morse". Morse's original code specification, largely limited to use in the United States, became known as Railroad or American Morse code, and is now very rarely used.
Beginning in the mid-1830s, Samuel Morse and Alfred Vail developed an electric telegraph, which used electrical currents to control an electromagnet that was located at the receiving end of the transmission wire. The technological limits of the time made it impossible to print individual characters in a readable form, so the inventors had to devise an alternate method of communication. Beginning in 1837, William Cooke and Charles Wheatstone operated electric telegraphs in England, which also controlled electromagnets in the receivers, however, in their systems needle pointers were rotated in order to indicate the characters being sent. In contrast, Morse and Vail's initial telegraph system, which first went into operation in 1844, marked a paper tape — when an electrical current was transmitted, the receiver's electromagnet rotated an armature, so that it began to scratch a moving tape, and when the current was removed the receiver retracted the armature, so that portion of the tape was left unmarked.