Tuesday, October 19, 2010

We've Come a Long Way from Morse Code

Or have we?

Text messaging (and Twitter), a more sophisticated version of Morse Code has taken the world by storm. In the time of Samuel Morse telegraph companies charged based on the length of the message sent; therefore Morse Code's system of dots and dashes was a very economical and efficient way of sending messages across great distances. Although many people seem to be under the assumption that xoxo was a Morse Code term for hugs and kisses, in actuality 88 was love and kisses. However, many Morse Code abbreviations are strikingly like "text speak" today - tnx = thanks, tu = thank you, ge = good evening. Instead of revolutionizing the world with modern "text speak", we have just repurposed and remarketed Morse Code abbreviations.

According to the UN Telecommunications Agency almost 200,000 text messages are sent every second.

The International Telecommunication Union reports that:

  • In 2007 a total of 1.8 trillion SMSs were sent.
  • In 2010 the total number of SMSs sent was an astounding 6.1 trillion.
  • The revenues from SMSs generate a whopping 14,000 dollars (10,050 euros) every second and 812,000 dollars every minute.
  • Users in the Philippines and the United States were among the most prolific, accounting for 35 percent of all text messages sent in 2009.

Morse Code was invented in 1835 - 1836. In almost 200 years of evolution, is a text message the best that we could come up with? Where is the next latest and greatest in communication?

1 comment:

  1. I'm an amateur radio operator (KB5NJU) who had to learn Morse Code to earn the license. It was easy for me to make the transition to texting because of my familiarity with the abbreviations.

    I remember reading in the American Radio Relay League publication "QST" that a contest was held on Leno's late night show to see if someone could send a message via Morse Code faster than a teenager could text it - and the code operator won as I recall.