Suiter Swantz IP takes a look back at past inventions and inventors with our Patent of the Day.  

On this day in 1840, Samuel F. B. Morse was granted U.S. Patent No. 1,647 for a IMPROVEMENT IN THE MODE OF COMMUNICATING INFORMATION BY SIGNALS BY THE APPLICATION OF ELECTRO-MAGENTISM. This invention led to the creation of Morse code.

Samuel Finley Breese Morse was a famous inventor and painter. He graduated from Yale and studied painting in England. In 1832, he began a twelve year period of perfecting his version of an electric telegraph. A code was needed to transmit natural language using only these pulses, and the silence between them. The Morse code was developed so that operators could translate the pulses into text. Originally Morse planned to only transmit numerals, but Alfred Vail expanded the code to use letters and special characters, so it could be used more generally.

An excerpt from the patent for the electric telegraph states:

It consists of the following parts–first, of a circuit of electric or galvanic conductors from any generator of electricity or galvanism and of electro-magnets at any one or more points in said circuit; second, a system of signs by which numerals, and words represented by numerals, and thereby sentences of words, as well as of numerals, and letters of any extent and combination of each, are communicated to any one or more points in the before-described circuit; third, a set of type adapted to regulate the communication of the above mentioned signs, also cases for convenient keeping of the type and rules in which to set and use the type; fourth, an apparatus called the “straight port-rule,” and another called the “ circular port-rule,” each of which regulates the movement of the type when in use, and also that of the signal-lever; fifth, a signal-lever which breaks and connects the circuit of conductors ; sixth, a register which records permanently the signs communicated at any desired points in the circuit; seventh, a dictionary or vocabulary of words to which are prefixed numerals for the uses hereinafter described; eighth, modes of laying the circuit of conductors.

The circuit of conductors may be made of any metal-such as copper, or iron wire, or strips of copper or iron, or of cord or twine, or other substances-gilt, silvered, or covered with any thin metal leaf properly insulated and in the ground, or through or beneath the water, or through the air. By causing an electric or galvanic current to pass through the circuit of conductors, laid as aforesaid,by means of any generator of electricity or galvanism, to one or more electro-magnets placed at any point or points in said circuit, the magnetic power thus concentrated in such magnet or magnets is used for the purposes of producing sounds and visible signs, and for permanently recording the latter at any and each of said points at the pleasure of the operator’and in the manner hereinafter described.

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Morse Code Patent