Morse code is a method used in telecommunication to encode text characters as standardized sequences of two different signal durations, called dots and dashes, or dits and dahs. Morse code is named after Samuel Morse, one of the inventors of the telegraph.
International Morse Code encodes the 26 Latin letters a through z, one non-Latin letter, the Arabic numerals, and a small set of punctuation and procedural signals (prosigns). There is no distinction between upper and lower case letters. Each Morse code symbol is formed by a sequence of dits and dahs. The dit duration is the basic unit of time measurement in Morse code transmission. The duration of a dah is three times the duration of a dit. Each dit or dah within an encoded character is followed by a period of signal absence, called a space, equal to the dit duration. The letters of a word are separated by a space of duration equal to three dits, and words are separated by a space equal to seven dits.
Morse code can be memorized and sent in a form perceptible to the human senses, e.g. via sound waves or visible light, such that it can be directly interpreted by persons trained in the skill. Morse code is usually transmitted by on-off keying of an information-carrying medium such as electric current, radio waves, visible light, or sound waves. The current or wave is present during the time period of the dit or dah and absent during the time between dits and dahs.
To increase the efficiency of encoding, Morse code was designed so that the length of each symbol is approximately inverse to the frequency of occurrence of the character that it represents in text of the English language. Thus the most common letter in English, the letter e, has the shortest code: a single dit. Because the Morse code elements are specified by proportion rather than specific time durations, the code is usually transmitted at the highest rate that the receiver is capable of decoding. Morse code transmission rate (speed) is specified in groups per minute, commonly referred to as words per minute.