Morse Code on 78 rpm Records.

 

This article is illustrated by small pictures of the 78 labels and booklets, &c. To see a larger and better quality picture of them, just click on the small one. To hear the audio examples (generally about 40 seconds in duration) simply click on the links in the text. All audio samples on this website are in mp3 format. Acknowledgements to contributors occur in the text and at the end of the article. Text references are indicated by a number in green.

 

This seems a very esoteric subject; but in fact there is already a small number of Internet references to such records, as I found a couple of years ago, to my surprise and delight. However – though I may be wrong – I don't think there are many places where you can actually hear audio samples of such discs, as you can on this web page.

 

I have been interested in early Jazz, 78 records, and also the origins and development of radio for all my life. From time to time the balance between these topics changes; and I must admit that, generally speaking, Radio tends to come in third place these days. But I had to learn Morse code to get my Amateur Radio Licence, and what could be more natural than to pick up 78s of Morse code whenever I saw them?

 

The fact that these are almost always records for teaching Morse code is inevitable: however, it takes but little imagination – especially with the surface noise of 78s! – to listen to these often ancient discs as if they were coming off the air. The fact that, however `beat-up' the record is, the code is virtually always readable, also forms a fitting tribute to the efficiency and versatility of ‘the code’ as a means of communication in unfavourable circumstances! Even if there is a negative signal-to-noise ratio, one can still read the Morse quite easily!

 

Have ‘dialects’ of Morse code changed in the last 90 years? I don't know; but hearing ancient Morse is still fun – and perhaps you will notice some trends? I once actually began to compile a serious Discography of Morse Code 78s (and cylinders!); but alas, I no longer have the time or the concentration to carry it on. So here, you'll just be able to see the label of the 78, and hear a sample of what it contains; plus the contents of whatever booklet or leaflet accompanied the discs... assuming I've been lucky, and the leaflet was still with the 78s!

 

Set #1.

 

   

 

Logically, the first American record company to issue Morse training records should have been the Edison concern. Thomas A. Edison had been, earlier in his career, a ‘wandering telegraphist’ (a romantic existence, virtually unique to the then frontier territories of the USA.) Also, Edison had always regarded his ‘favourite invention’, the phonograph, as a means to aid commercial and industrial development rather than its eventual role as a mere source of entertainment. At this time, we have no knowledge of any Edison recordings for teaching Morse code; we would indeed be disappointed to learn that there are none. In the event, the earliest such recordings so far known were made, probably in the second half of 1907, by the Electric Novelty and Talking Machine Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut, and are known as the ‘Mercury Telegraph Records’. They were available either as single-sided discs or as cylinders. We are deeply indebted to Mike Csontos for supplying the illustrations and audio samples for these elusive items, from the various examples in the AWA Electronic Communication Museum at Bloomfield, NY, USA, to which institution sincere thanks are also tendered. No details are known of the operator(s) who made them; but the discs themselves were manufactured by the Columbia Graphophone Company. Doubtless, the cylinders were made by them too; but no surviving examples are known to us. However, at this period, the quality of Columbia records was extremely good, and so the quality of the sound is excellent, helped by Mike's fine transfers. Note of course, that these discs were intended to train ‘line telegraphists’, and so the signal is in the form of the clicking of a Morse sounder. Click here for the start of the first disc. We don't have the documentation to go with the discs, but the record logically enough, starts with ten single dots, then ten single dashes. There next follows the letter A (di-dah) 5 times, then letter B (dah-dididit) 5 times. At this point, if you are not into the original American Morse, consternation reigns! Probably we are expecting letter ‘C’to be 'dah-di-dah-dit', as in the International Morse Code? No! In American Morse, ‘C’ was ‘didit , dit’, the comma indicating a space within the character. More on this later in the page. This set of 16 discs also appeared under the name of ‘Carnegie’, by which they had become double sided discs, still made by Columbia, now openly attested by the label itself. Click here for part of side 15. This set is also commendable because it brings in the characters at a fairly high speed, not slowed down as was all too often the case. This really does make it easier in the long run, when learning Morse, though you have to work harder in the first stages. Indeed, taken as a whole, in spite of being made almost a century ago, this set is one of the best to be found on this page, as you’ll hear, compared to some of the shaky offerings below... By the way, news of this set appeared over here in Britain; it is mentioned in the Trade Journal 'Talking Machine News' dated 1st January 1908. That interesting paragraph is given in Footnote 1. You can see 5 more of Mike's pictures of these discs and the sticker on the back of the single sided Mercury discs on this sub page.

 

Set #2.

 

 

There follows what may be the oldest, certainly the rarest early record in my collection. It was kindly presented to me by John Hobbs of Nottingham. The famous London department store Gamages issued records of Morse code: they have in fact the distinction of being the first major retail outlet to sell Wireless' components, this dating back to before the Great War. Indeed, Gamages were involved with the very dawn of the British amateur radio movement nationally; they leased a room at a nominal rent on their premises to the fledgling Wireless Society of London as far back as – 1912. This group eventually became the Radio Society of Great Britain (The equivalent of the ARRL in the USA). While on the one hand the store's motive may be seen as exploitive of a new, ‘high-tech’ and expensive pastime, on the other, we may well suspect the existence in the store's high management, of a devoted pioneer radio amateur: a person – as yet unknown – who served the hobby very well indeed during its early days. Of course, War engenders scientific progress, so it may be that this Gamage 78, doubtless one of a set, was produced after the start of hostilities in 1914. Anyhow: you already see its battered label... Now listen to some of it! I played this record to Major AM. Taylor, G8PG, who was a Marconi Wireless Operator in the Merchant Navy before joining the Royal Signal Corps on the outbreak of WW2. In his opinion, the sound was generated by a high-frequency buzzer; of the kind probably used for (land-line) communication between trenches and back to HQ during the Great War, and also WW2 for that matter. Certainly, the sound is, for the want of a better word ‘agreeable’, compared with some of the tones that were to be used in the future, as you'll presently hear. The number of records in this set is unknown; neither is it known whether a booklet accompanied the disc(s). This record is also unique among all that follow, in that it carries the Morse text on its label.

 

Set #3.

 

        

 

The next record is datable, because it is part of 2 sets made by The Gramophone Company (HMV) during the Great War. It was recorded on 24th January 1916. The exact date is not given in the EMI Archives, but Andrews and Bailey give this date. -1. These sets were produced by The Wireless Press, the publishing wing of The Marconi Company. Now let’s remember that records – especially HMV records – were expensive at the time, and so any aspiring telegraphist (Wireless or land-line) would need to spend quite a lot of money to buy this set of 6 discs! (HMV B-625 / B-630). How many people bought the full set we can never know. We can reasonably conclude, though, that some people started buying them one by one and then gave up, probably because of the expense. This is because I have found no less that three copies of the second disc of the set; but not more than one copy of the later ones, and some of them, no copy at all. By happy chance, each of the 3 copies of B-626 on the shelves here has a different label, and of course, the labels help to date the pressings. The earliest copy shown here may be the original label under which the discs first appeared. The HMV trade mark had been printed in colour until about 1915, when sepia was adopted as an economy measure. The second copy, because the picture appears in colour, must have been pressed after the War... it is thought that colour reappeared in late 1919 or 1920. The white quadrants are also characteristic of this time, as is the general label layout. The third copy is slightly harder to date, but my guesstimate is  ~1926. The set actually survived in the catalogue until 1933. Another useful thing is that because these discs were made under the aegis of The Marconi Company, the tone we hear on the discs may, I suppose, resemble what you would have heard if you were listening, on Marconi equipment, to a Marconi Transmitter. (Radio 'systems' were quite exclusive before the Great War, and one company (e.g. Marconi) would not communicate with another (e.g. Slaby-Arco) except for distress calls of course.) Enough talk! Listen to Part of HMV B-626. And, for good measure, some brisk faster sending from HMV B-629.

 

Undoubtedly, a book or booklet was issued to accompany these discs, but alas, I have never seen a copy of it. Curiously, though this set was recorded in January 1916, it was not issued until February 1917! The reason for this surprising delay is unknown; but it must have been due to something quite significant.

 

Set #4.

 

 

I only have two discs from the second set of 6 issued by HMV. They were recorded on the 12th December 1916 (all except one side – that devoted to Distress working' - which was made on the 13th January 1917.) The set was issued in April 1917, and deleted in December 1926. All other details are similar to the set described above. However, one interesting disc – B-789 – is devoted to the Morse sounder. This had been of course the 'traditional' method of receiving Morse since what, the 1840s? It is fascinating that Samuel Morse's original system was devised for automatic sending and receiving; it had apparently not been envisaged that ‘ordinary human people’ could learn the various Morse symbols in their heads, and become, as it were, an organic interface! Quite soon, though, the skill of doing this was acquired, and the operator would simply listen to a clicking relay connected to the land line, and write down what the message said. This was regarded as an amazing thing at the time... and of course immensely simplified much early line telegraphy. It has also been regarded as an ‘amazing thing’ by countless hundreds of thousands of service personnel trying to learn Morse code under the eagle-eye of a determined instructor, that they themselves would ever survive the ordeal itself; never mind learn the code! Nearly all of them did, though. Anyhow, you can hear some of this ‘sounder’ record (B-789) by clicking here. The label of the adjacent record (B-790) is also reproduced as a matter of interest, because my copy has a 'white quadrant' label, but with the picture in sepia, so it’s an early-ish pressing, and hence represents a fourth label type for these discs. Again there must be a booklet for these discs; or perhaps there is one book or booklet for both these HMV sets? Who knows?

 

Set #5.

 

        

 

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, the irresistible might of the United States of America had entered the Great War. There, too, the incredible expansion of Wireless Telegraphy (W/T) in naval and military spheres required thousands of new telegraphists, and the Victor Talking Machine Company hastened to supply records from which people might learn the Morse code. The set of 6 Victor records came in a stout cardboard container. A corner flap opened to allow the discs to be withdrawn. This flap is of unfavourable configuration (it's visible in the scan), and, alas, many a purchaser of these must have snapped off a piece of one of them trying to get it out of its box, as has occurred with disc 5 of my set. But no matter! Here is a picture of the front of the box. The set came with a small booklet, which was separate: if you put it into the box, it would be very hard to get out again, so its survival with this set of discs is quite amazing. I am very much indebted to Kurt Nuack of Texas, USA, for sending this set to me, when I intimated to him in a letter (Good grief! It was well before the Internet reached ordinary people!) that I was interested in Morse code 78 records. For those who may not know, Kurt is one of the foremost and most highly respected dealers in the ‘Ancient, Rare and Desirable Incunabula’ of the 78 record (if I may coin a phrase). It has always been one of the ‘skeletons in my closet’ that I have never paid him for these discs. True, he did not enclose an invoice; but, when my conscience pricked me into emailing him a few years ago, he replied that well, it really didn't matter: it certainly wasn't a problem, and he would be happy if I would accept the discs as a gift. I'm not suggesting that Kurt would send to you ‘the 78s of your dreams’ gratis; but the very least I can do is to provide a reference to his excellent website, -2, and re-state my appreciation of his truly regal magnanimity in allowing me – and you! – to hear what International Morse (Footnote 2) sounded like in the U.S. of A., back in 1917, when these discs were recorded! Here's an extract  from side 12, Victor 106-B, the last disc in the set. The disc is illustrated here. The front of the accompanying booklet is illustrated too; and if any of you are thirsty to know what the rest of it said, that's not a problem! By clicking the following link, you will go to a sub-page, where you may read the whole of it!

 

Set #6.

 

   

 

We could not leave the USA without a tribute to the great Thomas Alva Edison, could we? This is the only recording on this page that is not a tuition record. According to Edison Sales Bulletin No. 199, dated 13th. October 1920: ‘A short time ago at the solicitation of The Old Time Telegrapher's Association, Mr. Edison made a special disc RE-CREATION in the "Morse" code, a copy of which was presented to all members of this association.’ The bulletin goes on to say that this un-numbered disc (a corresponding Blue Amberol cylinder existed, too) would be made available to any others who might want to purchase one. Read the whole bulletin here. It seemed unlikely that a copy of this exotic item would ever surface, but luckily I was informed -3 that the Edison sounder record had been issued on an LP. This LP, on the Mark 56 label, at first proved very elusive, but eventually a copy of the track was sent by Merle. Several years later, my excellent discographical friend Joe Moore -4 was paying one of his regular visits to the Edison National Site at Orange, and he brought me back a transcription made directly from the copy in the archive there of master 7459-A. He even supplied a photostat of the file card, which you see here. Listen to 73 year old Thomas Edison sending part of the following text, which was supplied by Merle Parten, K6DC. The record is generally quoted a being made on the 24th July 1920, but the file card differs! If you would like to hear the whole of this record (which lasts for about 4.5 minutes), just click here.

 

'GS GS NY

iGS

GA your Edison Message please OK min

To the Telegraph Fraternity

Amid the activities of a busy life full of expectations hopes and fears my thoughts of early association with my comrades of the dots and dashes have ever been a delight and pleasure to me I consider it a great privilege to record in morse characters on an indestructible disc this tribute to my beginnings in electricity through the telegraph and with it a godspeed to the fraternity throughout the world

73 Edison'

 

Set #7.

 

   

 

Following the Great War, interest in ‘Amateur Radio’ burgeoned. Transmission by Morse code continued to expand rapidly of course; but wireless transmission of speech – and music – was now possible too. Many men and boys put up aerials and tinkered with coils, variable condensers and crystal detectors. Some women certainly did so too: but, oddly, ‘pottering about with bits of junk’ has always tended to be a male preserve, hasn't it? The more affluent enthusiasts could afford to buy one or more valves (vacuum tubes), a seemingly magical device that could do many things... It could greatly amplify a radio signal; it could rectify (or ‘demodulate’) it, thus rendering it audible; above all, it could serve as a generator of radio frequency oscillations. (It could even do all three things at the same time, though you might not want it to!) The inevitable result was the birth of radio broadcasting as we know it today. Many people became just regular listeners to the programmes of news, lectures, musical recitals, church services, stock prices and so on. Some others, though, wondered what the many Morse signals they could also hear through their headphones ‘were talking about’. Accordingly, there remained a market for Morse training records. We have already seen that the first HMV set remained in catalogue until 1933; thus, this set, engendered by the fury and tragedy of War, clearly enjoyed a new lease of life in peacetime for a more constructive purpose. But HMV were not allowed by their competitors to be the sole source of Morse discs. By no means! The Radio Craze of the early 1920s was to be catered for by more than one company. Some time in 1922, Gamage's Department Store returned to the fray with a monumental set of 24 discs! Alas, we have never seen any of these, so know nothing about them. But also, sometime in the second half of 1922, the Edison Bell Company produced a 4-disc set (with optional album), together with an 8-page leaflet. This really is a rare item, and I am again grateful to John Hobbs of Nottingham for presenting me with the set he found. Hear some code from disc 1903. There are a number of strange things that are recommended as aids to learning Morse in the various books and booklets that accompany these early discs! Several are to be found in this Winner leaflet. As before, you can examine all of it at your leisure on this sub-page.

 

Set #8.

 

        

 

The Columbia Graphophone Company seems to have been the next British firm to enter the Morse disc market. Recorded in early 1923, their three-disc set (3262 – 3264) was accompanied by an 8-page booklet. These discs were available separately, but the booklet came with the first disc. I'm lucky to possess two sets of these, plus a singleton disc that turned up. It's quite amusing, actually: the first set acquired was quite expensive, but I didn't mind, as I really wanted it; besides, the discs were mint, and the leaflet was still with them. Then, a couple of years later at a record bazaar, a collector who knew I was looking for such discs, offered me a set again, also mint, with booklet. He'd kept them on one side for me. ‘Oh, that's great!’ I said; ‘thanks! How much do you want for them?’ He replied: ‘Make me an offer!’ That was fair enough; and on the basis of what I'd paid for the first set, I offered him fifteen pounds. (~ US $22). ‘Oh no!’, he exclaimed, ‘that's too much!’ Having lost my presence of mind due to this unexpected response, I countered with a conciliatory offer of five pounds. (~ US $7.50). He frowned at this, which was evidently too low; but he accepted it anyway! If that dealer happens to read these lines, I'll be happy to buy him a couple of pints of best bitter as belated compensation! A very curious thing is that all seven of the discs on the shelves here – in spite of the fact that the set appeared in 1923 –have labels from the 1930s. These are quite distinct, as the catalogue number appears to the right of the centre hole; on earlier pressings, the number appears at the bottom right of the label. So, just for completeness' sake, we also show a near-contemporary label, which would have been the original label for this set. I can't help wondering whether, the Spectre of War looming again in the mid 1930s, these discs enjoyed an enhanced sale at that time. No definite deletion date is known to me for this set; but I do know it was still available around say 1934. Because, in one of his books, the famous writer on radio matters F.J. Camm recommends that people wishing to learn Morse should use another set of discs, because ‘…the Columbias have rather a 'spark' sound to them..’ or something similar. And in fact, when you listen to a sample of the sending on these discs, the sound is really rather like that of the buzzer on the primary of an induction coil; this form of ‘spark transmission’ was general in 1923, but was superseded – in some cases very slowly – by the far more efficient continuous wave system. Camm was, of course, perfectly right; but these Columbian give us the chance to hear what we might have heard if we were sending on a small spark transmitter in 1923, and thus are very fine! Above all, the first disc in the set carries a spoken commentary, the first we have so far encountered. The beginning of this side is reproduced here. A further, faster sample from disc 3264 is included here. And, as before, you can study the whole of the booklet (which is also pretty idiosyncratic!) on this sub-page.

 

Set #9.

 

   

 

A long gap follows; and I'm not sure exactly when this next set appeared. The Linguaphone Institute had existed since 1901 offering language courses on record. (Indeed it still exists and flourishes, and I learn from its website that it goes from strength to strength and currently offers courses in at least fifty different languages. These are of course, on CD and not the original wax cylinders of 1901!) However, they do not, apparently, offer a course in the Morse code. But they did at one time! In the absence of definite information, I must date this set of 5 Linguaphone discs to... er... the mid-1930s. It has a 48 page booklet with it (so you will have to be content, alas, with a couple of extracts from it), authored by Lieutenant-Colonel L.V. Stewart Blacker, O.B.E., and the sender of the code is Sergeant C.E. Harvey of the Royal Corps of Signals. But let me hasten to explain several anomalies with these discs. First, the wording of the introductory part of the booklet is rather ‘olde-worlde’, and suggests a date more like the 1930s; ‘The Romance Of Wireless’, all that sort of thing. But near the end of the booklet, a reference is given to the publication ‘Handbook For Wireless Telegraph Operators’, 1940, published by His Majesty's Stationery Office. This is after the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939; but the general text of the Linguaphone booklet makes no special reference to the importance of Wireless in Wartime, as would assuredly have been the case had the book been written (or extensively re-written) after the outbreak of the War. Thus I place the booklet itself as ‘early war years’. A further problem arises in that the 5 discs are pressed in vinyl, not the usual brittle shellac. Vinyl came into use in this country in about 1949. So I think here we have a set of discs that was around for a very long time – nothing unusual about that, as we have already seen – and that the various components of the set (the master records, the contents of the booklet, the pressings) here occur in a confusing time-spread! So let us hear some of Sergeant Harvey's sending. The booklet has 48 pages, so is too large to be reproduced here. But it contains a couple of fascinating appendices: a page listing some symbols of the American Morse code, and another listing the Cyrillic alphabet with their International Morse equivalents. These are reproduced on this sub-page.

 

Set # 10.

 

   

 

War came again, and the Columbia set was now definitely obsolete. So they re-made it, and extended it to 4 discs (DB-1995 – 1998). All 8 sides were recorded on 28th January 1941, and the set was issued in April that year. We have 2 incomplete sets on the shelves here, each consisting of the first 3 discs, plus a singleton of the first. These three are very much a re-make of the early ones, as you can hear from the spoken introduction. We have no original leaflet, but Pat Hawker, G3VA, kindly sent a photocopy. It's down to 6 pages, but contains the text of all four records, and is also closely based on the 1923 booklet, even to having the vertical strokes for the dashes. They were described in ‘The T & R Bulletin’ (the magazine of The Radio Society of Great Britain; the magazine was later re-named 'The RSGB Bulletin', and later still, ‘RadCom’). In a letter to me dated 4th March 1991, Pat relates that it was the note in the RSGB magazine that led him to buy the 4th disc, which attains the speed of 18 words per minute. On 30th July 1941, four more sides were recorded, and issued on DB-2041 and DB-2042 in October 1941. They comprised 'Unpronounceable Code in Five Letters and Figure Groups'. The four sides were at seven, eight, eleven and thirteen words per minute. To hear an extract of Columbia DB-1997 (which features two signals; the student has to follow the main one without being distracted by the other), just click here. Examine the whole booklet on this sub-page.

 

Set#11.

 

        

 

At around the same time, our two final examples were probably also made. Levy's, originally a record shop in Whitechapel since at least the early 1920s, had also produced their own labels, which issued much exotic material in the Jazz line in the 1920s and 30s. Their longest-lived label was called Oriole, and they eventually had two custom recording studios in central London. Unfortunately, all their recording files have been lost, so dating Oriole products is extremely difficult. More by hunch than anything else leads us to include these 2 exotic, privately produced, items here. They might date from the War days; or even late 1940s or early 1950s. Clearly a number of copies of these were made, because they are proper shellac pressings. On the other hand, there can't have been too many copies, or else a proper printed label would presumably have been used. The printed text for the first disc is typewritten, while that for the second disc was printed on an ink duplicator. These discs simply appeared at a record bazaar, where they were bought for me by a friend. I'm afraid I can't remember who it was. The frequencies of the notes employed here is by far the highest we've experienced; on the first disc, it is around 1485 Hz. Listening fatigue would tend to set in quite early, I would have thought! The text of disc 1 refers to the opening of a chain of radio stations to ensure efficient communication between aircraft. This sounds rather like the return of civil aviation after WW2; or might it even be from the later 1930s? Click here for an extract.

 

N.B. Following a discussion with the noted discographer Steven Walker in early September 2006, it now seems likely that these Orioles are most likely pre-WW2 (i.e. pre-1939). It's being looked into; if it proves to be the case, this entry will simply be moved up the page. Though whether they come before or after the Linguaphones - who knows?)

 

In conclusion, I hope you have enjoyed this little tour around some of the byways of Morse code on 78s. There are certainly sets waiting to be discovered! I already know that Linguaphone issued a set with red labels. Logic suggests that these were a second set, with faster sending.

 

If you have comments, corrections or observations you wish to make, please email me at jazz@normanfield.com ; I'll be happy to receive them and of course to give you credit for further information.

 

Footnotes, credits, references &c.

 

Footnote 1. TEACHING TELEGRAPHY BY TALKING MACHINE. The latest rôle of the talking machine is as a telegraphy teacher. It is so utilised by the Electric Novelty and Talking Machine Company, of Bridgeport, Conn. In one of their booklets, an interesting account is given of the extent of the present-day demand for skilled telegraphists in the States. It is estimated that there are immediate openings in the United States for at least 30,000 operators. Evidence of the exceptional opportunities of advancement that are open to telegraphists is offered by the testimony of leading railway men to the fact that about 85 per cent. of the railroad managers of the United States began as telegraph operators, while the point is still further emphasised by am impressive list of men now eminent in various spheres who started life at the Morse Key. The Electric Novelty and Talking Machine Company have come to an arrangement with the Columbia Phonograph Company, and a series of lessons in telegraphy have been prepared on disc and cylinder records. The lessons are numbered from 1 to 16 on 4 in. cylinders and 10 in. discs, and from 1 to 9 on 6 in. cylinders and 12 in. discs. These records are known as “Mercury Telegraph Records.” They give a faithful presentation of the work of competent telegraph manipulators, arranged in graded form from the simple dots and dashes which constitute the Morse alphabet, through all possible combinations of these elements, to the most complex Stock Exchange messages. A book of lesson keys is supplied with the records. The learner simply sets his talking machine going and listens with the lesson key before him. Constant repetition trains the ear until perfect proficiency in reading by sound is attained. Similarly, the pupil is enabled to have unlimited practice in sending messages, and to cultivate a rhythmic “touch,” by simply imitating the finished work which the talking machine reproduces to him. It is claimed that the entire course can be mastered in from 6 to 9 months.

 

Footnote 2. The American Morse Code and the International Morse Code were different. The American code was, to be sure, the earlier and therefore more authentic code, closely following Samuel F.B. Morse's original code. This first code employed not only dots and dashes but also internal spaces in a letter. Some of it can be seen in the picture above, accompanying the Linguaphone Morse records. For example, the letter ‘C’ was indicated by two dots, then a two-unit space, then a further dot; while Y was two dots, a two-unit space and then two more dots. However logical this may have been to Samuel Morse, it received short shrift in Europe when Morse system telegraphs were first installed here. I believe it was in Germany that the American Morse code was rationalised; the internal spaces were discarded, and new symbols brought in. The shorter symbols were carefully allocated to cater for the frequency with which common letters occurred in German. Now in German as well as English, the letter  ‘E’ is the most frequently used letter. Therefore it was allocated the shortest symbol: a single dot. In German, the second most frequent letter is ‘I’ so this was allocated the next-shortest symbol, i.e. two dots. But in English, the second most frequent letter is ‘T’. The Germans allocated a single dash to this letter. So there is a small discrepancy there! Incidentally, there seems to be one single survival of American Morse! The symbol ‘dit-space-dididit’ was apparently the American Morse symbol for the ampersand ‘&'. To this day, ‘dit- space-dididit’ that is, ‘ES' in International Morse – is still used all over the world as the standard abbreviation of the word 'and'.

 

References, credits & links.

 

-1. Catalogue Of HMV "B" Series Records. Frank Andrews & Ernie Bayly. CLPGS, 2000.

 

-2. 78 enthusiasts will benefit greatly from visiting Kurt's website: www.78rpm.com

 

-3. Merle Parten, K6DC, of California.

 

-4. Joe Moore, one of the most indefatigable discographers we have. He runs a 'Queries Forum' in VJM magazine and has long been a student of, and specialist in, the (American) Edison Company's recordings, especially of Jazz and Dance Music.

 

Thanks again to: The AWA Electronic Communication Museum at Bloomfield, NY, USA: www.antiquewireless.org/museum/museum.htm; Arthur Badrock; Mike Csontos; the late George Frow; Adrian Hope; Richard Johnson; Pat Hawker G3VA; John Hobbs; the late William McGhie; Joe Moore; Kurt Nauck; Merle Parten, K6DC; Tony Smith G4FAI; Thomas Sutton; Major A.D. Taylor G8PG; also G2KU; GOGDN, G4TPB, G4HGV. If I have left anybody out, or inadvertently used copyright material please let me know & it will be rectified.

Norman Field.

 

Page finished 9th January 2005.

 

Revised & corrected 29th December 2008.