With the advent of email the @ sign has gained popularity. It is now as well recognized as the & (ampersand) sign.


The “American Morse”, also known as “Railroad Morse”, had a character for & which has been used by amateur radio operators most of whom did not know they were using an “American Morse” character. Because the modern amateur radio operator uses “International Morse” which has a different timing arrangement then “American Morse” the letters e and s are used to make up the & sign. So when es is sent it is recognized as “and” but it really is the &.


(The original character makeup for & was not es but a dit with a slightly less time then that used between letters followed by dididit.)


Because the @ is used in email addresses and there was no code character for @ email addresses were difficult to exchange via CW. This problem was addressed by the ITU-R.


On May 24, 1844 the first transmission of a message by telegraph to be publicly observed was sent so it was on this date 160 years later (2004) the Radio Communication Bureau of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU-R) formally added the @ (which they called “commercial at” or “commat” for short) to its list of Morse characters. The new character is AC (Underscore means it is not two characters but all sent together as one) so it is sent as didadadidadit (• — — • — •).


The ITU-R is the same group that required amateur radio operators to demonstrate an ability to send and receive “International Morse” until they dropped that requirement on an international level in 2003.


The @ sign is the first new character to be officially added to the Morse character set sense World War I. The information on what that character added during WWI was or its exact date of its addition seems to have been lost.


The problem now is to get the sign into common use so when sent other hams will be able to understand. We need to spread the word to others and use the character on the air.



History of the @ sign:


The origin of the @ sign has been lost to antiquity but it was known to be used by scribes to shorten the Latin word “ad” (at, to, or toward) as early as the 6th or 7th centuries.

The symbol can be found on 14th and 15th century clay pottery which were used to hold grain or wine and seems to have some connection to the measure or quantity it contained. Later it came to mean “at the price of”. Underwood added it to the 1885 typewriter keyboard.

The use of use of @ as part of the email address is credited to computer engineer Ray Tomlinson who in 1971 used it to separate the name of the intended recipient from their location with a character that would not appear in either name.

<?php facebook_ilike(); ?>

Share on Facebook

This entry was posted in Ham Radio and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *