Well today everyone is Mr Samuel Morse Birthday! Happy birthday and Respect!
Believe it or not he was not a scientist - he was a professional artist. Educated at Phillip’s Academy at Andover, he graduated from Yale in 1810 and he lived in England from 1811 to 1815, exhibiting at the Royal Academy in 1813. He spent the next ten years as an itinerant artist with a particular interest in portraiture. He returned to America in 1832 having been appointed Professor of Painting and Sculpture at the University of the City of New York. It was on this homeward voyage that he overheard a shipboard discussion on electromagnets. This was the seed out of which the electric telegraph grew. Morse is remembered for his Code, still used today throughout this beautiful hobbie, and less for the invention that enabled it to be used, probably since landline telegraphy eventually gave way to wireless telegraphy.
From 1837 Morse gave the telegraph his full attention, having set up in partnership with Alfred Vail, Professor Leonard Gail, and congressman F O J Smith. Vail provided funds and facilities at the family ironworks, and Smith legal expertise. There’s an irony, therefore, that disagreements with Vail led to litigation; Vail provided funds for lawyers, too. The telgraph was eventually patented in Morse’s name alone, an event granted by the US Supreme Court in 1854. Morse’s decision to abandon painting was possibly due in part to his failure in 1836 to secure a commission to paint the Rotunda of the Capitol building, a commission he had expected. He did not entirely lose contact with his art, being President of the National Academy of Designfrom 1826 to 1845.
The first message sent by the electric telegraph was "What hath God wrought", from the Supreme Court Room in the Capitol to the railway depot at Baltimore on May 24th 1844. There is a website on this topic. The words were chosen by Annie Ellsworth; in one letter Morse wrote this phrase with ‘God’ capitalised and underlined twice.
In 1847 Morse bought Locust Grove, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and built there an Italianate mansion. This is now a Morse museum, and annually hosts the Poughkeepsie Amateur Radio Society for its Morse Day. In old age Morse became philanthropic.
For his 80th birthday in 1871 a statue was unveiled in Central Park in New York on June 10th, with two thousand telegraphists present. Morse was not, but was that evening at the Academy of Music for an emotional acclamation of his work.
Although most people nowadays would think of Morse code being used for long-distance radiotelegraphy, the land-line telegraph was standard until about 1880 for short-distance metropolitan communication. Over longer distances the telegraph tended to follow the line of the railways because there were no difficulties over rights-of-way. The lines were mostly overhead, since the problems of insulating underground lines proved insuperable for many years - indeed the development of the original line was hampered owing to this problem.
The telegraph of course came to be important for the military, being used first at Varna during the Crimean War in 1854. It was widely used in the American Civil War, where rapid deployment techniques for land-lines were developed; the Spanish-American War found the first use of telegraphy for newspaper correspondents (1898). The first military use for radio telegraphy was during the Russo-Japanes War in 1904 - 5.
Telegraphists were, no doubt, a special elite; perhaps one of the first documented to suffer from repetitive strain injury. ‘Brasspounding’, that is telegraphy on a straight (up and down) key gave rise to telegrapher’s ‘glass arm’; it was this that motivated the invention of the ‘side-swiper’ or ‘bug’ key, the most famous maker of which is Vibroplex.
The code itself is discussed more in my Morse Code pages which I plan on uploading soon :)The papers and correspondence of SFB Morse are in the Library of Congress; visit the Samuel F.B.Morse homepage for more details.
Mr Samuel Morse died on April 2, 1872 at his home at 5 West 22nd Street, New York City, at the age of 80, and was buried in the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.
For those of you are reading this and don't know what the hell Morse code is, well it is a type of character encoding that transmits telegraphic information using rhythm. Morse code uses a standardized sequence of short and long elements to represent the letters, numerals, punctuation and special characters of a given message. The short and long elements can be formed by sounds, marks, or pulses, in on off keying and are commonly known as "dots" and "dashes" or "dits" and "dahs". The speed of Morse code is measured in words per minute (WPM) or characters per minute, while fixed-length data forms of telecommunication transmission are usually measured in baud or bps.
Morse code was extensively used for early radio communication beginning in the 1890s. For the first half of the twentieth century, the majority of high-speed international communication was conducted in Morse code, using telegraph lines, undersea cables, and radio circuits. However, the variable length of the Morse characters made it hard to adapt to automated circuits, so for most electronic communication it has been replaced by machine readable formats, such as Baudot code and ASCII.
The most popular current use of Morse code is by amateur radio operators withinthis wonderful hobbie, although it is no longer a requirement for amateur licensing in many countries. In the professional field, pilots and air traffic controllers are usually familiar with Morse code and require a basic understanding. Navigational aids in the field of aviation, such as VORs and NDBs, constantly transmit their identity in Morse code. Morse code is designed to be read by humans without a decoding device, making it useful for sending automated digital data in voice channels. For emergency signaling, Morse code can be sent by way of improvised sources that can be easily "keyed" on and off, making Morse code one of the most versatile methods of telecommunication in existence.So there you go thats it in a nutshell, I will publish more about this code in future updates but for now here is some news thats floating around amateur radio in Ireland with thanks to the IRTS.
SOTA Amateur Radio and Hillwalking
Those who want to combine amateur radio with
hillwalking can get involved in the Summits On The Air
("SOTA") programme. SOTA is a bit like IOTA, with hills
and mountains replacing islands. It is designed to
encourage portable operation in mountainous areas, and
there are awards for activators, who ascend to the
summits, and chasers, who either operate from home, a
local hilltop or are activators on other summits.
More than 20 countries are currently involved in the
SOTA programme, including Ireland - North and South.
There are 387 eligible summits in EI (of which more
than 50 have been activated) and 66 eligible summits in
GI (of which 36 have been activated). More details,
including a list of eligible summits and a lot more,
can be found at www.qsl.net/sotaei and at
With a view to encouraging more SOTA activity, an
International SOTA Weekend is to be held on Saturday
2nd and Sunday 3rd May 2009, which is next weekend. It
is hoped that this event will see many summit-to-summit
contacts between different SOTA associations, and give
chasers the chance to work activators from several
different DXCC entities.
6-metre Guyana Dxpedition
The 6 Meter Beacon Project, Inc., is happy to
announce a HF-50 MHz DXpedition to Guyana between
June 16th and July 6th.
Antennas for 6 meters will be a 6M7JHV yagi at 45 ft.
on the Atlantic Ocean pointed towards EU and NA, and
using a 3CPX800A7 amp.
Activity will be split between two teams: 11 days will
be by Chris W3CMP and Dave N3DB, the other 11 days by
Terry K4RX and Ken AC4TO.
They hope to get some decent openings to, amongst other
places, Northern EU, 5B/4X and W6/W7. They expect to
have Internet access most of the time.
Operating frequencies and Web site will be announced at
a later date.
More information on Rallies can be found on the IRTS
History this week
1900 Marconi International Marine Communication Company
1900 Marconi Patent 7777 for tuned coupled circuits.