THE French say petit escargot; the Dutch call it a monkey's tail. On a qwerty keyboard, it's Shift-2. And next month, amateur radio enthusia

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2022-05-14 14:30:09

THE French say petit escargot; the Dutch call it a monkey's tail. On a qwerty keyboard, it's Shift-2. And next month, amateur radio enthusiasts will call it dit-dah-dah-dit-dah-dit.

''As far as we know, this is the first change to the code in at least 60 years,'' said Gary Fowlie, a spokesman for the International Telecommunication Union, the arm of the United Nations that will oversee the update, which is to become official on May 3. ''There is a need for it.''

In 1844, Samuel F.B. Morse sent the first Morse code message over a long-distance telegraph. The phrase ''what hath God wrought'' traveled almost instantly from Washington to Baltimore.

Later the code was used by the military to transmit messages over radio frequencies. Today, a handful of ham radio enthusiasts communicate in Morse code as a hobby and also use it during power failures.

''This is one of those technologies that never really dies completely,'' said Elliot Sivowitch, a museum specialist emeritus for the Smithsonian Institution who specializes in radio communications.

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