Morse Code

The telegraph was the most revolutionary invention in the history of communication. It separated the technological boundary line between the nonelectronic and electronic modes of communication. However, the invention itself—first contemplated in 1753—would have been all but meaningless without an accompanying language. That language, also a significant innovation, is Morse code, a series of closed circuits (or dots and dashes), and open circuits (periods of silence), which corresponds to the Roman alphabet and Arabic numerals zero through nine. Morse code has been used in military and rescue operations, shipping, and public safety, and it played a critical role in the development of American journalism during the Civil War era. This entry discusses how Morse code works, its development during the 19th century, and its ...

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