On This Date in 1840: Samuel Morse Receives Patent for “Morse code” System

Samuel MorseOn this date in 1840, Samuel Morse received a patent for his “Morse code” system. Morse was a painter, originally. He also studied photography with Louis Daguerre in France, and brought the new technology to America, where he opened a photographic studio in New York City. He became interested in telegraphy after he failed in his bid to become the mayor of New York. During a demonstration of one of his early telegraph machines, he met Alfred Vail, a young mechanical engineer. Vail was fascinated by the telegraph, and he convinced Morse to bring him aboard as an assistant. Vail helped Morse work out some problems with Morse’s original system, and it didn’t hurt that Vail’s father was a wealthy industrialist. Vail put up the money to pay the patent application fees in exchange for a share in whatever resulted.

The telegraph works by sending an electromagnetic signal over a wire. Morse had an idea that the current could be used to move a pencil along a moving strip of paper, but Vail simplified it by suggesting a cheaper and more practical alternative: an arm that would bounce up and down. The pair then had to devise a way to convert a tapping arm into a system of language. It was actually Vail, not Morse, who came up with the first dot-and-dash system, with each letter and number being made up of a different combination of long and short sounds or flashes. Vail’s first message using his code was, “A patient waiter is no loser.” But Morse was the better known of the two inventors, and it was his name on the patents, and that’s why we call it “Morse Code” and not “Vail Code.” -From Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac, June 20, 2020.

KM1CC QRV for Marconi’s First Transatlantic Wireless Message Anniversary, January 18-19, 2019

KM1CC signBill Kretschmer, N2KNL, writes:

On January 18, 1903, young inventor Guglielmo Marconi made communication history by sending the first public transatlantic wireless message from his station on the South Wellfleet bluffs to Poldhu, Great Britain. The KM1CC Marconi Cape Cod Radio Club operators will talk to hams around the world on January 18-19, 2019 beginning at 1000 Eastern Time (1500 GMT). Instead of operating at the Coast Guard Station in Eastham this month, we will operate from Russ Apgar’s home, K1RTA, in Wellfleet, MA, at 285 Old Wharf Road off U.S. Route 6 across the street from the original Marconi Site. Grid Square FN51av. Operators are welcome to attend. Here are the operating frequencies and modes:

80M 3.660-3.860 SSB / 3.535 CW
40M 7.130-7.260 SSB / 7.035 CW
30M 10.110 CW 
20M 14.260 SSB / 14.035 CW
17M 18.160 SSB / 18.080 CW
15M 21.360 SSB / 21.035 CW



“Due to our usual operating site in Cape Cod National Seashore being closed as a result of the current federal government shutdown,  KM1CC will operate from multiple home operator locations.  SSB operations will still be from an amateur station located in grid square FN51 (a Wellfleet location close to original Marconi station site).  CW operations will be from amateur radio stations in FN42.


 When:  Jan 18   1500-UTC   through   Jan 19,  2100 UTC


QSL card requests- best to use LoTW Log Book of the World.  Please do not direct mail QSL card requests to KM1CC until after the US Federal Government – DEPT OF THE INTERIOR shutdown ends as Cape Cod National Seashore is closed until the shutdown ends.


See also: “Marconi: Beyond the Horizon

Fessenden Commemorative Transmission Set for Christmas Eve

From the ARRL Letter, December 20, 2018:

A replica 1921 CW and Heising modulated AM transmitter constructed by Brian Justin, WA1ZMS. [Brian Justin, WA1ZMS, photo]

As he’s done in years past, Brian Justin, WA1ZMS, of Forest, Virginia, will commemorate what may have been the first radio broadcast [from Brant Rock, Massachusetts] to include speech and music by experimenter Reginald Fessenden on Christmas Eve 1906. Justin will fire up his vintage-style transmitter operating on 486 kHz under Experimental license WI2XLQ to mark the 112th anniversary of Fessenden’s accomplishment. Justin will begin his transmission on December 24 at 1700 UTC and continue until December 26 at 1659 UTC. [Full story]

See also: Fessenden’s Christmas Eve Broadcast