Hack #53. Learn Morse Code Like an Efficiency Expert

Learn the Morse code alphabet and numbers painlessly and efficiently in an hour or less—starting now!

Frank Gilbreth, the industrial psychologist who pioneered efficiency and time-motion studies in the early 20th century, invented a quick and simple way to learn Morse code. Only the first four letters of his Morse alphabet have survived, but this hack reconstructs the rest.

In their book, Cheaper by the Dozen, two of Gilbreth's children, now grown, describe how they learned Morse code:

For the next three days Dad was busy with his paint brush, writing code over the whitewash in every room... On the ceiling in the dormitory bedrooms, he wrote the alphabet together with key words, whose accents were a reminder of the code for the various letters... When you lay on your back, dozing, the words kept going through your head, and you'd find yourself saying, "DAN-ger-ous, dash-dot-dot, DAN-ger-ous."1

This might not be the best way to learn Morse code—and understanding it when it is sent to you will certainly take practice—but it is the quickest and simplest method I know of. My family members picked up roughly half the alphabet just by hearing me describe this hack while I was writing it.

In Action

Briefly, the mnemonic for each Morse code letter is a word or phrase beginning with that letter. In Table 6-1, unaccented (unstressed) syllables represent dots in Morse code, and accented (stressed) syllables represent dashes.


To use ...

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