Morse Code: The First Text Message System

Text messaging has taken the world by storm; so much so that some colleges and universities have stopped assigning email addresses to incoming students. For the most part, they can get what they need via text message, or Facebook. Not amazed? I am.

Not being content with the inability of most cell phones to quickly compose a text message by pressing telephone keypad buttons to get the desired letters, many have upgraded to the more familiar QWERTY keyboard to make text messaging even faster. To make it shorter still, texting has its own shorthand, and gains new abbreviations nearly daily. It’s a race to keep up.

My recent grocery store experience, where I viewed the words “Iceberg” and “Iceburg”, within five feet of each other and both placed to describe a standard head of lettuce, put me on a course to think about how far we’ve come in this regard. More specifically, I started thinking about icebergs. And the most famous? The one that took down the Titanic.

Out there in the North Atlantic, the crew aboard Titanic only had Morse Code to communicate quickly between ships. Have you ever tried to learn Morse Code? I’ve looked at it from time to time and I regard those experts who used it to manage train schedules and also to warn others of impending dangers as having the most critical jobs out there. Guess what? When Titanic was in danger, and even as it was going down, no one misspelled “iceberg” in their Morse Code messages.

Yes, they may have shortened the word to “berg” to save time, but they still used the correct vowel.


1 Comment

Filed under spelling, Uncategorized

One response to “Morse Code: The First Text Message System

  1. kathryn mccary

    Well, it probably had something to do with who got selected to be trained to operate telegraphic signal equipment in the first place. . .

    And, an iceburg is no doubt where the snowmen (and snowwomen. . .well, the snowfolks) live.

    [Before writing that, I had to go look up “burg,” to make sure it meant what I thought it meant–it did–“berg,” to make sure it wasn’t a synonym (it isn’t, in fact as a word in English it means “iceberg”) and “iceberg,” to figure out the derivation. As a matter of interest, the “berg” piece means “mountain”; as soon as I read that I wanted to say “I knew that,” but apparently I didn’t know it all that well! This blog is very educational, but occasionally exhausting!]

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