Communication is a big part of society. Without it, people might still live in caves, and the possibility of advancement would be non-existent. But while it is very easy for people today to message or call someone, it wasn’t so in the past. 

The first telephone was only patented in 1876 by Alexander Graham Bell. So, before that, people had to be creative with long-distance communication, and that’s where the Morse code came in. Learning the Morse code alphabet, numbers and punctuations was the best way to talk to someone from afar back then, and if you want to know more about it, this article is here to help.

Who Was Samuel Morse?

Samuel Morse is widely known as the man who invented the Morse Code, but the story that led to him inventing it is tragic. Born in Charlestown, Massachusetts, on April 27, 1791, he was sent to England by his parents to study painting, as this was his main interest. This eventually became his main source of income which later landed him on painting a portrait for Marquis de Lafayette in 1825.

The job took him to Washington, D.C., where he, unfortunately, received terrible news. He came upon a letter that told him his then young wife had died back in their home in New Haven, Connecticut. What made it worse is that it was already too late when he got the message, making him miss the funeral. 

As he turned this grief into opportunity, he became one of the developers of the first telegraph in the 1830s. In 1837, he showed a prototype of his telegraph in public. As with any telegraph, it sent a pulse via wire to make its way to a receiver.

The First Transmission 

Although the Morse code came from the mind of Samuel Morse, he wouldn’t be able to refine and expand it if he didn’t have his brilliant partner Alfred Vail. The code consisted of every letter in the English language, with some punctuations and numbers from zero to nine. The code was deciphered from a series of short and long pauses, with short being a dot and long being a dash.

When Morse was finally able to show off his electric cipher, U.S. congress gave him a grant of $30 000, so he could build his long-distance telegraph, and on May 24, 1844, the moment of truth came. He sent a coded message to Vail from the Capitol Supreme Court To Baltimore via wire. The message contained the quote “What hath God wrought” from the biblical book of Numbers as suggested by his friend’s daughter.

Morse Code Going Global

The popularity of long-distance communication rose and spread like wildfire over the next few decades. It was very useful during the American Civil War where President Abraham Lincoln got updated with what was happening on the battlefield. But as the Morse Code spread globally, problems emerged.

So Friedrich Clemens Gerke, a German telegraph inspector, simplified the system. After a few tweaks and adjustments, the “International Morse Code” system was born. The former version was then called the “American Morse Code”, which has not been used today except in Civil War Reenactments.

People eventually found other ways to Utilize Morse Code. For example, in 1867, ships used blinker lights to signal other ships. In the 1890s, when radiotelegraph machines became popular, radio waves were used to send coded messages. 

Applications Today

At the end of the 20th century, the code was eventually phased out as phones, and satellite communication became the norm. But if you are planning to join the U.S. Navy, you will be forced to master Morse code as it is part of intelligence training.

Outside military application, there is an international group called the International Morse Code Preservation Society, where a coalition of amateur radio operators from all around the globe sends codes to each other for their love of it.


When it comes to the history of communication, one must not forget about the Morse code. Its contributions in the past pave the way for the convenience of modern long-distance communications. And because you can utilize it in different ways, learning the Morse code alphabet, numbers, and punctuations are still used today for sending out coded messages, especially in the military.