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Morse Code: American and International Morse Code

Published Saturday, December 23, 2006

Morse code is a coding system for transmitting information, using standardized sequences of short and long signal (sound or light pulses) of different durations in the form of "dots" and "dashes" or "dits" and "dahs" that represents letters, numbers, punctuation marks or other characters. Short signals are called "dots" and long signals are called "dashes". Each letter in the alphabet represents a corresponding sound or series of sounds unique to each signal of different durations that are printed out as dots and dashes. Spaces between letters or words is based on the durations of silence between them.

The Morse code was invented in 1836 by American Samuel Finely Breese Morse (1791-1872) and it is used in sending messages over extremely low-quality pathways such as telegraphs and low-quality radio. Thus, this means that signals (sound or light pulses) can be communicated audibly by telegraph or visually at night with the blink of a light from a lamp. Morse code was also called the "American" Morse Code since it is the first and original Morse code. There are now other Morse codes, that adapted the American Morse code to use in other languages. Also, there is an Continental Morse Code or International Morse Code which eliminated all of the embedded spaces and long dashes within letters found in the letters of the original Morse code (American Morse code). This International Morse Code is given below long with the original Morse code.

Over the years there has been an increase in knowledge (science and technology) which led to modern development of more advanced communications system which make the use of Morse code almost obsolete. However, in spite of our technological advancement in communication, this method of communication still (even thought it is slow) provides a reliable (wireless) method of transmitting and receiving text messages through (and overcoming) disruptive interference conditions such as fading, noise, or other interferences. Morse Code has the advantage of being able to be read and understood by both man and machine.

Morse code is used today to a limited extent by; amateur radio operators, CW (continuous wave), maritime, landline telegraphers, navigational radio beacons, and military radio operators. Listed below is the American (original Morse code) and the International Morse Code.

Morse Code Alphabet

American Morse Code:

A . __ J . . S . . . 1 . __ __ .
B __ . . . K __ . __ T __ 2 . . __ . .
C . . . L ___ U . . __ 3 . . . __ .
D __ . . M __ __ V . . . __ 4 . . . . __
E . N __ . W . __ __ 5 __ __ __
F . __ . O . . X . __ . . 6 . . . . . .
G __ __ . P . . . . . Y . . . . 7 __ __ . .
H . . . . Q . . __ . Z . . . . 8 __ . . . .
I . . R . . . 0 ____ 9 __ . . __
International Morse Code (Continental Morse Code):

A .- G --. M -- S ... Y -.-- 4 ....-
B -... H .... N -. T - Z --.. 5 .....
C -.-. I .. O --- U ..- 0 ----- 6 -....
D -.. J .--- P .--. V ...- 1 .---- 7 --...
E . K -.- Q --.- W .-- 2 ..--- 8 ---..
F ..-. L .-.. R .-. X -..- 3 ...-- 9 ----.
The six elements of the International Morse code
  • short mark (pulse) which is a; dot or 'dit' (·)
  • longer mark (pulse) which is a; dash or 'dah' (-)
Where __ is a long pulse, ___ a very long pulse and ____ a extra long pulse.
  • Intra-character gap/space (This is found between the dots and dashes within a character)
  • short gap (This is found between letters)
  • medium gap (This is found between words)
  • long gap (This is found between sentences)
For inter-character and interword spaces, there is no standardization in length (durations) of the spaces.

Punctuation Marks:
period              .-.-.-
comma --..--
question mark ..--..
hyphen -....-
colon ---...
(also can mean 'divided by')
underline ..--.-
(This is used before and after the word to be underlined)
apostrophe .----.
quotation mark .-..-.
parenthesis open -.--.
{said to be replaced by -.--.- for both "(" and ")"
parenthesis (close) -.--.-
Mathematical Signs
equal sign -...-
(used also as spacing between parts of transmission)
plus sign .-.-.
multiplication sign -..-
fraction mark -..-.
separator (in fractions) .-..-
Here is an International Morse Code chart showing the Morse Code characters, since some browsers might show the codes above incorrectly.

Click to enlarge chart
Morse Code Converter - This Morse code translator translates from Morse code to text and from text to Morse code.
Morse Code translator with sound - This Morse Code translator allows you to translate a text into Morse Code translate with the sound.

Related Articles:
American Manual Alphabet: One-Handed Manual Alphabet
Languages by Countries

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At 9:41 PM, Blogger EuroYank said...
At 6:27 PM, Blogger R. Edmondson said...
At 8:05 AM, Anonymous Heather said...

Excellent blog, and I am glad I found you. You present info that is interesting and good to know. Thanks! (have blogrolled you)

Thank you very much EuroYank for the compliment and for your kind words. It is very much appreciated :)

Nice post which here are now other Morse codes, that adapted the American Morse code to use in other languages. Also, there is an Continental Morse Code or International Morse Code which eliminated all of the embedded spaces and long dashes within letters found in the letters of the original Morse code. Thanks a lot for sharing this article.

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