Morse Code was invented by Samuel F. B. Morse (1791-1872), a painter and founder of the National Academy of Design. He conceived the basic idea of an electromagnetic telegraph in 1832, and produced the first working telegraph set in 1836. This made transmission possible over any distance. The first Morse Code message, “What hath God wrought?”, was sent from Washington to Baltimore.
Today experienced operators copy received text without the need to write as they receive, and when transmitting, can easily converse at 20 to 30 words per minute. Morse Code will always remain a viable means of providing highly reliable communications during difficult communications conditions.
Morse Code can be transmitted using sound or light, as sometimes happens between ships at sea. It is used in emergencies to transmit distress signals when no other form of communication is available. The standard international distress signal is •••—••• (SOS)
Morse Code can be used to transmit messages in English and many other languages. For languages not written with the Latin alphabet other versions of Morse Code are used. There are versions of Morse Code for the Greek, Cyrillic, Arabic and Hebrew alphabets, and for Japanese a version known as Wabun Code (和文モールス符号), which maps kana syllables to specific codes, is used.