Did Dr. Gregg meet with Samuel Morse? Why don’t Morse operators write in GS?

I have spoken with several ham radio operators who use Morse code, and none of them use or learned Gregg shorthand, nor do they know of any Morse operator who does use shorthand.

This seems odd to me, as it makes sense that in taking down code, a faster method of writing would be most helpful.

The time of Morse and Marconi matches up with Dr. Gregg’s work.

Anyone know why the Morse operators don’t standardly use Gregg?  Or if Dr. Gregg ever met with Mr. Morse?

7 comments Add yours
  1. Mr. Morse died in April 1872 when Dr. Gregg was just 4 (he was born in June 1867).

    The purpose of Morse code is transmitting messages (Morse code predated radio and telephone), not to record speech as shorthand methods are. A message to be telegraphed is given to the operator by paper means (or dictated), the operator converts it to Morse code to be transmitted and a two-way conversation usually starts. I don't think there would be very little use for shorthand in this situation: it would be like needing to know shorthand to talk over the phone, which of course is not necessary.

    1. I was confused by the text at first as well, but I think what he meant was: given that Morse code is used for one-way transmissions, would it not be better for the receiving operator to transcribe the incoming Morse message into shorthand, and then later into longhand, rather than directly into longhand?

      That wouldn't apply to messages that aren't transcribed, of course (such as, presumably, the kind of two-way conversation you mentioned).

      I had always pictured Morse as one-way, though: like telegrams, they get sent from A to B but are not immediately replied to. (And telegrams would be a prime example of a Morse code message that gets transcribed into long-hand afterwards: surely no recipient of a telegram gets a ticker tape with dots and dashes on it!)

    2. HI, Phillip. 🙂 There are plenty of folks "talking" back and forth in Morse, all over the world, day and night. Here is the Ham Radio Operators site for learning Morse. They broadcast lessons over shortwave radio.


      I listen to shortwave and sometimes listen to the frequencies that are only Morse. I don't know the code, but I like listening to it.

  2. Carlos, thanks. I ought to have looked up the dates. The ham operators I spoke with said that they often have situations which requires writing down what is being transmitted in order to give exact information to others.

    When I asked why they didn't use GS, they said that they had not thought of it, and didn't know anyone who wrote shorthand.

    Thanks again for your kind answer. 🙂

    1. I heard that skilled Morse operators don't hear individual letters any more than skilled English readers read individual letters… they recognise entire words at a time from the "sound-shape" that the words make much as we often recognise words by the "letter-shape" of the word as a whole.

      So it would be not all that dissimilar from dictation, I think: hear a word, maybe even a short two-word phrase, set it down in shorthand. I don't think it would be letter-by-letter at all.

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