Thursday, May 05, 2005

FLASH.... code beats txt msg

A race to the wire as old hand at Morse code beats txt msgrs
By Mark Henderson

DOTTY and old-fashioned means of communication can still be the best: Morse code has seen off the challenge of the text message in a contest pitting the best in 19th-century technology against its 21st-century successor.

The race to transmit a simple message, staged by an Australian museum, was won — at a dash — by a 93-year-old telegraph operator who tapped it out using the simple system which was devised by Samuel Morse in 1832 and was the mainstay of maritime communication up until 1997.

Gordon Hill, who learnt to use the technique in 1927 when he joined the Australian Post Office, easily defeated his 13-year-old rival, Brittany Devlin, who was armed with a mobile phone and a rich vocabulary of text message shorthand. Mr Hill, whose messages were transcribed by another telegraph veteran, Jack Gibson, 82, then repeated the feat against three other children and teenagers with mobile phones.

n the competition, at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, Mr Hill and his rivals were asked to transmit a line selected at random from an advertisement in a teenage magazine.

It read: “Hey, girlfriend, you can text all your best pals to tell them where you are going and what you are wearing.” While the telegraphist tapped out the line in full, to be deciphered by Mr Gibson, Miss Devlin employed text slang to save time. She keyed: “hey gf u can txt ur best pals 2 tel them wot u r doing, where ur going and wot u r wearing.”

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Just 90 seconds after Mr Hill began transmitting, Mr Gibson announced that he had the message received and written down correctly. It took another 18 seconds for Miss Devlin’s message to reach the mobile phone belonging to her friend.

Learn Morse Code in one minute here.

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A race to the wire as old hand at Morse code beats txt msgrs - Britain - Times Online


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