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SOS in Morse Code Becomes Worldwide Standard for Help

Hey Sparkles! Happy Monday! For today’s Monday Moment post, I am writing about SOS becoming the worldwide standard for help on July 1, 1908. I am also writing about Morse code.

That is 111 years ago today. SOS in Morse is …—…

This famous code was invented by an American, Samuel Finley Breese Morse. He was also a famous painter. Telegraph messages were sent by sending electrical pulses along the telegraph wire. Although Morse code only has two states, on and off, it is not binary, because pause lengths are required to decode it.

Originally created for Samuel F. B. Morse’s electric telegraph in the early 1840s, Morse code was also 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length of the characters made it hard to adapt to automated circuits, so for most electronic communication, it has been replaced by more machinable formats, such as Baudot code and ASCII.

Use of Morse code revolutionized international communication. Ability to use a visual signal also meant that Morse could be used to indicate distress and the need for assistance, whether from a life-boat at sea or from an isolated land location (signaling a searching rescue aircraft).

Over the years, Morse has been used in inter-governmental communication, in commerce, in times of distress, it has helped to make war but also peace. Its use is increasingly a matter of historical interest but few would dispute that it has made a contribution to human communication of incalculable value and significance.

Well, that’s all for today, Sparkles. I hope you enjoyed learning something about morse code this week, now that I am finished with my capital punishment unit study. Be sure to go ahead and sign up for Setting the Stage Summer Camp here. Thanks for reading, and Sparkles away!

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