Creating Morse Code


Hayley Nicole Veen, Staff Writer

Although rarely used today, Morse code was once helpful in getting messages across great distances. Morse code does not have a very well-known inventor because it is so old. However, Samuel F. B. Morse and Alfred L. Vail are accredited with starting the Morse code. Yet, they do not get much credit for the Morse code aid in World War 2.

Many inventors helped aid the invention of the telegraph before Morse’s model was built. These people include Alessandro Volta, Hans Christian Ørsted, Francis Ronalds, and Leonard Gale. Alessandro Volta provided one of the first inventions that would help the telegraph. Volta was an Italian inventor who invented a battery with continuous current and the Electrophorus, which generates static electricity. This became a foundation for many electric inventions in the future. The Danish physicist Hans Christian Ørsted built onto this electric technology and knowledge by drawing a connection between magnets and electricity. In several studies, Ørsted found that an electric current could deter a compass needle controlled by magnets which was the original discovery of the electromagnetic theory. Finally, Sir Francis Ronalds, born and raised in England, used this technology to make the first telegraph using static electricity technology. However, Sir Francis was not recognized for his invention because on August 5, 1816, the British Government ignored the invention because they found it “wholly unnecessary.” While not always mentioned, Leonard Gale made many connections between people in order to ensure the telegraph could be built. Some people believe he was most important in the creation of the telegraph, but others took credit for his invention.

Samuel Finley Breese Morse is also a key to one half of Morse Code’s story. Morse was born to a distinguished father in Massachusetts on April 27th, 1791, and went to Yale College (now University), taking a strong interest in electricity. Morse also studied painting for four years in England(1811-1815). After returning to the United States, Morse developed an electric telegraph from 1832 to 1835. Morse’s telegraph recorded messages on paper moved by an electromagnet, building off of previous designs and findings. However, Morse did not event the system of communicating through this device alone. These gaps were where Alfred Lewis Vail came in. Vail was born in New Jersey on September 25th, 1807, and became a “financial backer (Britannica, Alfred Lewis Vail).” Vail met Samuel F. Morse in 1836 before Morse, Vail, and Gale all helped in the first victorious presentation of an electric telegraph. After making a deal to provide supplies, Vail helped Morse develop a better system for Morse Code. 

The first message sent through Morse Code was taken from the Bible. It came from the Book of Numbers or the 4th book of Moses, 23:23, “What hath God wrought?” Now, this doesn’t seem to mean much, but it was chosen because many people in the United States were Christian then. Perhaps this verse is very important to Samuel Morse in particular. 

Morse Code isn’t used as often today, but it was a vital form of communication in wars. And, while most people don’t find themselves in survival situations where Morse Code is needed, Morse Code could help people communicate through hearing or seeing disability by feeling a pattern of vibrations or taps. Now, people make Morse Code bracelets or necklaces for entertainment or friends.