The lost art of Morse code

By Mark O’Neill
Contributing Writer, [GAS]

I’ve taken up a new hobby recently and that’s learning Morse code.   I’ve been wanting to learn this lost art for a long time, and was finally inspired to get started by this Art Of Manliness article, which supplied a printable card of all the Morse code characters for the alphabet along with various handy weblinks.

You might be wondering the practical use of Morse in this day and age when we have things like mobile phones, SMS and the internet.    Well for one, it’s interesting.  Secondly, it’s a very useful survival skill to know.   I often travel down to the Bavarian Alps and mobile phone reception can be spotty down there.   If I’m up a mountain and I break a leg and I suddenly can’t get mobile phone reception, wouldn’t Morse code be a good skill to have if I find myself in a position to use it?

I find it a shame that something like Morse code is gradually dying a slow death due to SMS, mobile phones and the net.   This is something that should be kept alive and that everyone should learn.

Do you know Morse code?   If so, where did you learn?

Oh and to show you that Morse code is indeed better than a SMS message, don’t take my word for it.  Here’s Jay Leno to show you :

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19 Responses to The lost art of Morse code

    • well I don't know about other mountains but on the Bavarian Alps, they have huts on various places on the mountains where stranded climbers can shelter.

      When I was in one of those huts a few years back, I found a Morse code sending and receiving device. :-)

  1. The amateur radio community in Alberta runs weekly province wide Morse code classes on a network of voice repeaters.

    Among the amateur radio community Morse code, or CW as it's more frequently called, is still in use. Of course the new practitioners aren't filling the ranks of those who were trained in the military or who worked in remote locations in Canada and who are dying off.

  2. The amateur radio community in Alberta runs weekly province wide Morse code classes on a network of voice repeaters.

    Among the amateur radio community Morse code, or CW as it’s more frequently called, is still in use. Of course the new practitioners aren’t filling the ranks of those who were trained in the military or who worked in remote locations in Canada and who are dying off.

  3. I've always wanted to do a morse code SMS application. iPhones are too expensive though. Maybe I'll try to get an Android as long as I can convince myself to sign another cell contract.

  4. I’ve always wanted to do a morse code SMS application. iPhones are too expensive though. Maybe I’ll try to get an Android as long as I can convince myself to sign another cell contract.

    • well I don’t know about other mountains but on the Bavarian Alps, they have huts on various places on the mountains where stranded climbers can shelter.

      When I was in one of those huts a few years back, I found a Morse code sending and receiving device. :-)

    • well I don’t know about other mountains but on the Bavarian Alps, they have huts on various places on the mountains where stranded climbers can shelter.

      When I was in one of those huts a few years back, I found a Morse code sending and receiving device. :-)

  5. If you're doing morse code, why not take the next step and get your ham license!

    Even though it's not required for a license anymore (I don't know code, yet) it's still heavily used on the air.

    -Adam

  6. If you’re doing morse code, why not take the next step and get your ham license!

    Even though it’s not required for a license anymore (I don’t know code, yet) it’s still heavily used on the air.

    -Adam

  7. I had to work long an hard to learn the code. I took the amateur license tests back when the FCC actually gave them. I eventually got the opportunity to go to sea as a commercial radio operator. This was before GMDSS, enjoyed the experiance and regret the loss of the Radio Officer position on ships. However, I don't think there is any going back for the world. I believe that the human condition is at a point now that it is likely impossible for people to learn morse, no sense of committment and inability to focus.

    Thanks;

    Frank D

  8. I had to work long an hard to learn the code. I took the amateur license tests back when the FCC actually gave them. I eventually got the opportunity to go to sea as a commercial radio operator. This was before GMDSS, enjoyed the experiance and regret the loss of the Radio Officer position on ships. However, I don’t think there is any going back for the world. I believe that the human condition is at a point now that it is likely impossible for people to learn morse, no sense of committment and inability to focus.

    Thanks;
    Frank D

  9. I love Morse Code. I was a Morse Operator in the USAF for around 10 years – that was over 20 years ago. The reason I found this site is I was looking for some practice.
    – My ears perk up every time I hear a dit. I grab a pen or pencil and start writing. Watching TV, the old cartoons (Bugs, Popeye) they sent real code; in the movies… not so much.
    – It saddens me to know its considered obsolete by so many. It wouldn’t surprise me if while our INTELL is so progressive and computerized etc – BinLaden has been using the antiquated Morse Code as his mode of comms and why he’s been so successful.
    – Now, someone send me some Code…. is there a site where I can hear it live? Really, I’m Jonesin’.
    Tnx for listening.

  10. I love Morse Code. I was a Morse Operator in the USAF for around 10 years – that was over 20 years ago. The reason I found this site is I was looking for some practice.

    – My ears perk up every time I hear a dit. I grab a pen or pencil and start writing. Watching TV, the old cartoons (Bugs, Popeye) they sent real code; in the movies… not so much.

    – It saddens me to know its considered obsolete by so many. It wouldn't surprise me if while our INTELL is so progressive and computerized etc – BinLaden has been using the antiquated Morse Code as his mode of comms and why he's been so successful.

    – Now, someone send me some Code…. is there a site where I can hear it live? Really, I'm Jonesin'.

    Tnx for listening.

  11. I learned Morse as an Aviation Radioman in the Navy back in WWII.  We qualified at about 25 wpm (5-letter code groups) using a key with a vertical grip on it in case you were wearing gloves.  Consequently, I can barely read high speed bugs, but the Code is fixed in my brain — so much so that I still hear the letters when I'm reading signs and license plates.  My first computer had a CW oscillator in it that allowed you to send Morse — that should be revived.  Is there a Web site for Morse users?

  12. I learned Morse as an Aviation Radioman in the Navy back in WWII.  We qualified at about 25 wpm (5-letter code groups) using a key with a vertical grip on it in case you were wearing gloves.  Consequently, I can barely read high speed bugs, but the Code is fixed in my brain — so much so that I still hear the letters when I’m reading signs and license plates.  My first computer had a CW oscillator in it that allowed you to send Morse — that should be revived.  Is there a Web site for Morse users?