Morse code is a method of transmitting text information as a series of on-off tones, lights, or clicks that can be directly understood by a skilled listener or observer without special equipment. It is named for Samuel F. B, Morse, an inventor of the telegraph. Because many non-English natural languages use more than the 26 Roman letters, each Morse code symbol represents either a text character or a prosign and is represented by a unique sequence of dots and dashes. The duration of a dash is three times the duration of a dot, each dot or dash is followed by a short silence, equal to the dot duration. The letters of a word are separated by an equal to three dots, and the words are separated by a space equal to seven dots. The dot duration is the unit of time measurement in code transmission. To increase the speed of the communication, the code was designed so that the length of each character in Morse varies approximately inversely to its frequency of occurrence in English. Thus the most common letter in English, the letter E, has the shortest code, Morse code is used by some amateur radio operators, although knowledge of and proficiency with it is no longer required for licensing in most countries. Pilots and air controllers usually need only a cursory understanding. Aeronautical navigational aids, such as VORs and NDBs, constantly identify in Morse code, compared to voice, Morse code is less sensitive to poor signal conditions, yet still comprehensible to humans without a decoding device. Morse is, therefore, an alternative to synthesized speech for sending automated data to skilled listeners on voice channels. Many amateur radio repeaters, for example, identify with Morse, in an emergency, Morse code can be sent by improvised methods that can be easily keyed on and off, making it one of the simplest and most versatile methods of telecommunication. The most common signal is SOS or three dots, three dashes, and three dots, internationally recognized by treaty. Beginning in 1836, the American artist Samuel F. B, Morse, the American physicist Joseph Henry, and Alfred Vail developed an electrical telegraph system. This system sent pulses of current along wires which controlled an electromagnet that was located at the receiving end of the telegraph system. A code was needed to transmit natural language using only these pulses, around 1837, Morse, therefore, developed an early forerunner to the modern International Morse code. Around the same time, Carl Friedrich Gauss and Wilhelm Eduard Weber as well as Carl August von Steinheil had already used codes with varying lengths for their telegraphs. In 1837, William Cooke and Charles Wheatstone in England began using a telegraph that also used electromagnets in its receivers
Typical "straight key". This U.S. model J-38, was manufactured in huge quantities during World War II. The signal is "on" when the knob is pressed, and "off" when it is released. Length and timing of the dots and dashes are entirely controlled by the telegraphist.
Morse code receiver, recording on paper tape
A U.S. Navy Morse Code training class in 2015. The sailors will use their new skills to collect signals intelligence.
A commercially manufactured iambic paddle used in conjunction with an electronic keyer to generate high-speed Morse code, the timing of which is controlled by the electronic keyer. Manipulation of dual-lever paddles is similar to the Vibroplex, but pressing the right paddle generates a series of dahs, and squeezing the paddles produces dit-dah-dit-dah sequence. The actions are reversed for left-handed operators.