April 27: Morse Code Day!

April 27 was Morse Code Day which commemorates the birth of the inventor of the Morse Code – Samuel Morse in 1791.

Self portrait by Samuel Morse
Self portrait by Samuel Morse

Samuel Finley Breese Morse (April 27, 1791 – April 2, 1872) was an American painter and inventor. After having established his reputation as a portrait painter, in his middle age Morse contributed to the invention of a single-wire telegraph system based on European telegraphs. He was a co-developer of the Morse code, and helped to develop the commercial use of telegraphy.

In 1825 New York City had commissioned Morse to paint a portrait of Lafayette in Washington, DC. While Morse was painting, a horse messenger delivered a letter from his father that read, “Your dear wife is convalescent”. The next day he received a letter from his father detailing his wife’s sudden death. Morse immediately left Washington for his home at New Haven, leaving the portrait of Lafayette unfinished. By the time he arrived, his wife had already been buried. Heartbroken that for days he was unaware of his wife’s failing health and her death, he decided to explore a means of rapid long distance communication.

While returning by ship from Europe in 1832, Morse encountered Charles Thomas Jackson of Boston, a man who was well schooled in electromagnetism. Witnessing various experiments with Jackson’s electromagnet, Morse developed the concept of a single-wire telegraph. He set aside his painting, The Gallery of the Louvre. The original Morse telegraph, submitted with his patent application, is part of the collections of the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution. In time the Morse code, which he developed, would become the primary language of telegraphy in the world. It is still the standard for rhythmic transmission of data.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_F._B._Morse