Ham Radio History (H)
From Daryl Stout
@HURRICAN/THUNDER to All
on Sat Mar 4 10:15:00 2017
The International Code
Although Samuel F. B. Morse's code achieved nearly universal use on the landline telegraph systems of America, the Europeans never did like it.
They felt that the "space" characters were likely to cause errors in
receiving. (The letter "O," for example, was sent "dit dit" and the "I"
was sent as in the now familiar International Code: "didit.") The
Europeans developed a number of binary dot-dash codes to suit their own
needs. The code in use on the wires of the Prussian Empire in 1852 bore
a strong resemblance to the present International Code, but it used the American Morse numerals. Seven years later the "European Code" was
formulated, using the Austro-Prussian alphabet, and adapting the numerals
we now use. This was adopted for use by all European countries, and the
name was changed in 1912 to "International Code," although it is also
known, even today, as the "Continental Code."
The numerals themselves are interesting. No known code of the European continent shows anything which resembles them. They just showed up in
the European Code. However, the Bain Code, used on many lines in the
U.S. circa 1846, had numerals which closely match those of the
International Code. From one through five, Bain and International are identical. Reversing the Bain Code numerals six through zero produces
the International numerals. There is nothing to prove that the Bain Code
was the basis for the International numerals, but the conclusion is
almost inescapable that someone at the Vienna conference at which
International was adopted, was familiar with Bain's numerals. Bain's code
was a modification of the Davy code of 1839, so it is possible that the numerals we now use are older than any of the alphabets.
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