Ancient Telegraph Code

Jeffrey Herman jeffreyh at HAWAII.EDU
Thu Apr 13 23:53:27 EDT 2000

On Thu, 13 Apr 2000, Chris Trask wrote:
>         I picked up a very odd book over the weekend entitled "ABC
> Universal Commercial Electric Telegraphic Code", published by the American
> Code Publishing Co. in 1899.  It appears to be a manual for a form of
> telegraphic shorthand used by merchants and shipping agents, similar to
> the Q-codes and numerical codes we still use.  There are over 25,000 codes
> in this book, and they were able to use either a number or a word.  They
> also had to add additional information if there's a "fill in the blank"
> portion.

The 6th edition (1920) is 1400 pages thick, and contains 89,900
numeric codes for common words and phrases. Such a code book
helped to encode common expressions used on the landline telegraph
wires. The person wanting to send a telegram might be charged by the
word, when in fact, a group of words could be encoded into a single
numeric expression and sent in a faster manner, thus freeing up the line
for other messages to be sent. Such a code book also helped to bridge
various languages.

Library call number: HE 7673.C58 1920.

73  <---a numeric code for "best regards"

Jeff KH6O

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