07 May 2005

Morse Code

This from Slashdot so I’m sure everyone will see it eventually, but this killed me for some reason. I think it's WHAT they were sending. Probably the first time the 93 year-old ever had to send something like that:

Hardware: Morse Code Faster Than SMS "Engadget is reporting that Morse Code is actually faster than text messaging. According to the article, 93 year old Gordon Hill transmitted a message faster than 13 year old Brittany Devlin, despite Devlin's 'liberal use of texting slang.' And the fabulous quote they were they sending: 'Hey, girlfriend, you can text all your best pals to tell them where you are going and what you are wearing.'"

So... I decided to make this a more "cool" thing and satisfy one question I had anyway: What's the fastest morse code can go?

So I came to this

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Okay, who was the fastest code operator, ever??

I put that question to my friend Marshall Emm, N1FN,
who runs the world's best key and keyer shop (www.MorseX.com).
Marshall provided, from memory, some tidbits from the Theodore McElroy legend:

"Ted McElroy started manufacturing keys in 1934. McElroy was a master of both American and International Morse code and he promoted telegraphy most of his life, first as a telegrapher and later as a manufacturer of keys, bugs, and related equipment.

"By age 15, McElroy was a leading telegrapher (Wirechief) for Western Union. In 1922, he won the world championship in Asheville, NC by copying code at 56.5 WPM. That record was beaten in 1934. So, he went back the following year (1935) and beat the world record again. On July 2, 1939, McElroy broke the world record code speed at 75.2 WPM, which remains unsurpassed today. For the record, there is an individual ham radio operator who claims to have beaten it, on the basis that 75.2 wpm in 1939 currency is only worth about 65 wpm today.

"Anyone considering the nature of the record should recognize that the 1939 contest was a PROGRESSIVE test, with around a dozen candidates, but only two surviving to the final round. Each round consisted of a 15 minute transmission of text from a newspaper. Speed calculation was about as scientific as you could get- they cranked up the speed a couple notches, and at the end of the 15 minutes they counted how many words had been sent.

"Hams struggle with 5 minute tests (in which they only have to have solid copy for ONE minute!), and the two finalists in the 1939 test had to survive multiple, consecutive 15 wpm tests at ever increasing speeds.

"The legend is that Mac astounded the audience by not doing anything when the sending started- except to take a drink of water, and light a cigarette. He didn't start typing until a full 15 seconds of code had gone by. When the tape finished, he kept typing for that same 15 seconds. And it's no coincidence that he also won touch typing contests! Ever the showman, Ted "Mac" McElroy put his name and "World's Champion Radio Telegrapher" on his keys and bugs, which are highly prized today by discriminating operators and collectors."

Marshall Emm

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While I was there, I found this, which was cool reading. "Morse code memories." Ah... and we'll all be in the same boat. "Son, I remember email..."

By the way. If you ever need something converted into morse code, this will do it.

Anyway. Enough silliness for now.

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