Morse Code Uses in Communication

When did the Morse code Originate? Who Invented the Morse code? Where was Morse code used? How did it become Useful for Disabled People?
Morse Code Uses

In your childhood, you all must have heard about Morse code uses and the kind of code language to communicate with your peers. Some have developed the urge to be a spy by watching detective and secret agent movies. It was a childhood fantasy, but there was a code system. The Morse code was invented to encode the messages sent through the telegraph. Today you will get to know about how does Morse code work and Morse code symbols. You will also learn about the Morse code uses.

1. Define Morse Code

It is the language of telecommunication. This language includes only two characters: dots and dashes or dits and dahs. The frequency of these characters was assigned an alphabet, and the message was encoded accordingly. These characters were called electrical pulses. A short pulse represents the dot and a long pulse represents a dash. (Also read What is a code gray in a hospital?)

2. Origin of Morse Code

Inventor Samuel F.B. Morse invented the electric telegraph between 1832 and 1835. In 1838, along with Alfred Vail, he invented the Morse code. Earlier, the code included only numbers according to Samuel’s decision. In 1840, Alfred Vail decided to add special characters and letters also. The reason behind this was to make it easy for everyone to use and understand. Check out the 4 most important inventions of the industrial revolution.

Morse code was first used on May 24, 1844. The first message was sent using this code from Washington D.C to Baltimore. It was the first time a message traveled a long distance electronically in human history. After the first successful code use, it was known as the Morse landline code. It was referred to by other names also, like American Morse Code or Railroad Morse code. (See When Were Numbers invented?)

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3. Morse Code Symbols

Morse code used only two symbols: dots and dash. It included 26 Latin alphabets, numbers, and symbols. They were assigned different frequencies of dots (.), dash (-), and space. For example, let us say Hi in Morse code. It would be Dot dot dot dot. Dot dot. Four dots for the letter H and two dots for the letter I. The following points also need to be memorized to understand the morse code uses. (See 5 Pound Sign Phone Symbol Facts)

  • A dit takes 1 unit of time.
  • Dah takes 3 units of time.
  • The pause between dits or dahs takes 1 unit of time.
  • The pause between letters equals 3 units of time.
  • The pause between words equals 7 units of time.

4. Types of Morse Code Machine

Writing the codes was easy for the operators having experience doing so for a while. But machines were used to ease the pain and increase the number of words per minute written. Two types of machines can transmit the words faster: 


  • A bug is a semi-automatic machine with one lever and paper or tape attached to it.
  • Pushing the lever to the sides changes the code from dots to dash, and the machine will transmit the message accordingly.
  • If the lever was towards the dash side, it becomes the manual key. The operator can type a series of dashes quickly.
  • If the lever was on the dot side, then a vibrating spring helps the machine make dots


  • A keyer is an electronic machine using a paddle for making dashes and dots.
  • There are two paddles arranged side-by-side to transmit the paper’s message effectively.
  • The intensity and frequency can be adjusted by squeezing the paddle. (See All Battery Sizes with Pictures)

5. Sound of Morse Codes

While printing the dots and dash, the machine produces some sounds. Morse code uses have increased widely and the telegraph operators even learned the sounds it made while printing the code on tape or paper. At the moment, telegraph operators decided that they could individually translate and note down the message by just hearing the sound. In this way, paper and tape were no longer required. They were trained to decode the sounds of the message. There were classes for teaching the new telegraph operators about the sounds and understanding them. (Also read What is the name for the @ (at) symbol?)

6. How does Morse Code Work in Telegraphy?

During World War II, radiography with Morse code was used. Every military, army, and navy personnel needs to know the Morse code. This was used to send messages between warships and naval bases. One of the Morse code uses was to transmit a message over long distances within large ships. Navies sent long-range patrol planes to spy on enemy warships, cargo, and troopships. These planes were equipped with radiography, and the pilot was skilled in sending a message using Morse code to their base. (See 13 Different Types of Compasses)

7. Morse Code Uses in Radio Communication

Soon after its first successful transmission, Morse code was adapted to radio communication. This kind of communication was among agents, secret agencies, and some government or non-governmental security forces. Engineers and other technical staff were trained to encode text characters of different signals or sounds (called dots and dashes, or dits and dahs). (Also read How Does A Remote Control Work?)

8. Morse Code Uses in High-speed International Communication

The Morse code was widely used worldwide during the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was mostly used in high-speed international communication from undersea cables, radio circuits, and telegraph lines. At the beginning of 1930, all the civilians and pilots used to learn Morse code. They had to know how to understand the code and decode its message. The knowledge of this code was made necessary for basic communication systems and to identify the navigational beacons. (See How do Earbuds Work?)

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9. Can it be used on a Phone?

These dots and dashes can be used on your phones also. Knowing the Morse code is essential for many government employees to tackle emergencies. Space shuttles are also equipped with a telegraph keypad to enable the transmission of messages in Morse code. In an emergency or during rescue operations when network coverage over the phone is difficult, rescue teams can be reached by sending messages in Morse code. (Also read Why smartphones are so popular?)

10. The Last Use of Morse code

On January 31, 1997, the French Navy transmitted the last message using Morse code. The message said, calling all this is our last cry before our eternal silence. And after that, they stopped using radiography with Morse code. The International Standard for Maritime Distress used the Morse code till 1999 because afterward it was replaced by the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System. (Also read How Does A Magnifying Glass Work?

11. Do you Use it in the Digital Age? 

Even though modern technologies took over the traditional Morse code, it never ceased to exist. The official authorities are not issuing a license to use the Morse code, but amateurs are using the code for a wide cause using the digital and technological aspects. (See How Does a Digital Camera Work?

  • David Ramsey is a radio ham who told the BBC through an online message that amateurs are picking up the Morse code after every country stopped using it.
  • Another group using it to transmit messages is radio hams with disabilities. People with speech and hearing impairment use the Braille system to study, so they find this Morse code easier to understand.
  • Paralyzed people who cannot use their body parts completely can operate Morse code with their fingers or even their tongues. Must read the 10 facts about plane smoke.

So today, you have learned about different Morse code symbols along with Morse code uses in communication and telegraphy. You get to know how does Morse code work and how it is useful. It helps physically challenged people in the communication process. There are other applications too but nowadays technology has grown and the old traditional morse code uses are replaced by smart automatic devices. (Also read 15 Unique Facts About Fingerprints)

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