Morse code: what it is and code table

Do you know what the Morse code is? Or even when it was created and for what purpose? In this article we will give the answers to these questions and also show the alphabet in Morse code and give some tips on how to learn this language.

First of all, it is necessary to know that the transmission by Morse code is not used or monitored by any country in the world in an official way. However, it was an extremely important language code for the history of communications.

Especially with regard to the Second World War. Since, a decade earlier, the code started to be used in all marine transmissions and even areas.

This became decisive for maneuvers to avoid enemy attacks. Because of the historical importance of this type of code, this post is totally dedicated to answering questions and presenting curiosities about it.

What is Morse Code?

Morse code is a code transmission system , which uses binary signals , which was originally created for use with electrical telegraphs. A telegraph was a long-distance communication device that was created in 1835 in the United States.

One of the creators, who named the invention was Samuel Morse, an artist, physicist and inventor. He developed a system of codes, which used electrical pulses to send information over long distances.

This code system used electrical pulses to send information over long distances (Photo: depositphotos)

For that, it used points and lines that were organized to represent a certain number, which would be in a dictionary with the equivalent word.

In the beginning, the telegraphs worked using electric currents that served to control electromagnets and produce the varied magnetic pulses. Morse created this device together with physicist Joseph Henry and inventor Alfred Vail.

To be able to send the information it was necessary to create a code that used only three types of pulses and spaces between them.


At the same time, more precisely in 1837, in England, the inventors William Cooke and Charles Wheatstone created a similar system. However, theirs used a needle system that rotated to indicate which letter was being sent. However, this device did not win over the public and only two units were sold.

In 1844, Morse’s telegraph went public and soon became a success. The idea, from the beginning, was that trained operators decoded signals to send or receive messages from around the world.

A curiosity is that the binary coding system was not created by Samuel Morse. There are records that date between the years 400 and 200 before the Common Era of the region where India is located. This ancient system, which was very similar to Morse code, was described by the Indian mathematician Pingala.

See also :  First public demonstration of the telegraph

How did he become what we know today?

Morse’s initial idea was to create a system of lines and points, which could be translated into numbers. Each set of numbers would serve to represent a word, which would be contained in a large dictionary delivered to each of the controllers.

Shortly thereafter, Alfred Vail, who was his partner in the invention, worked to improve this code. As such, he added letters and other special symbols to make the transmission system more accessible and usable.

For this, he also analyzed the frequency in which the letters of the Latin alphabet were used in the English language. That way, he can place the most used letters in the shortest sequences of dots and dashes. The less used letters, on the other hand, kept the longer strings. As a result, the code became shorter and easier to learn and interpret. Even if all the code signals were not heard or seen.

Another fact that helped popularize the model created by Morse was that there was no need to have a sheet of paper attached to the machine. At first she typed the symbols on a strip of paper and shortly after that it became optional, as operators could hear the electrical points being sent. In this way, it was possible to perform a fast, accurate and confidential decoding. With that, the Morse code can be an audible, luminous or even written signal.

The best known alphabet in Morse code is in the Latin alphabet, which is used in almost all Western countries. However, some countries have their own alphabet. That is why, over the years, extensions to the official Morse code have been created, so that it could be used worldwide.

Where was the Morse code used?

In the beginning, the Morse code was used in all long distance communications , which needed to be done in a short time. For this purpose, a network of telegraphs spread throughout various parts of the world was used.

From 1890 on, it started to be used on a large scale in radio transmissions . It is worth remembering that at that time it was not yet possible to send a voice. In other words, the Morse code was the only possible way of communicating over the radio. In this way, most of the long distance communications that took place during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, used the Morse code.

Whether through telegraphs, radios or even submarine cables that have been installed in various regions. In the 1920s, every commercial or military aircraft should have a person on board capable of understanding Morse code.

This served to receive or send messages to the control tower, which was on the ground. In the following decade, civilian and military pilots needed to be qualified in the code to make any flight. Mainly because all navigation and communication systems are made this way. This system was called radiotelegraphy, since it united the two technologies to bring agility to the process.

During World War II , which lasted from 1939 to 1945, this technology was deployed on ships and used widely throughout the world. Therefore, all ships should have on board people who know Morse code, as a way to receive and send messages, coordinates and avoid attacks by enemy forces.

In the same way, interception of messages and espionage of enemy communication began to occur . It was also used to send messages directly to the battlefield, to pass orders and plans to act.

Where is it currently used?

Because of its importance for the beginning of long-term communications and in a short period of time, Morse code is recognized as an official language in almost all countries.

However, its use is currently restricted to specific services and amateur radio enthusiasts. Even, until recently, knowing the Morse code perfectly was one of the requirements to obtain the amateur radio license.

In the world navy the code was no longer used in 1999 . Being replaced by the World Relief and Maritime Safety System. The United States Coast Guard and Navy, however, still use Morse code communication to this day.

Some areas of aeronautics and civil aviation still use Morse code readers. For military purposes, almost no country in the world has officially declared to oversee transmissions under this type of code.

How to read in Morse code?

Anyone can learn to read or decipher messages in Morse code. To do this, just study and be patient in recording all the symbols and their equivalents in letters and numbers.

First of all you need to know the basic signs , which are two types. The short signals , which are represented visually by a dot and called DIT. Second, there are long signals , which are called DAH. These signals are represented visually by a dash and are generally three times larger or longer than dits.

Soon after learning the signals, it is necessary to listen to recordings, until you learn to distinguish them in audible signal . There are several recordings that can be found on the internet and even applications that help in learning Morse code.

Finally, you need to start training on a daily basis. This makes learning better assimilated and the use of it becomes more natural. For this it is possible to write tickets or shopping lists, for example.

Leave a Comment