We found the above card in an old dresser we
bought. For those who are not familiar with the OSS: It was a U.S.
Intelligence Agency started during WWII under the direction of Colonel "Wild
Bill" Donovan. It was the precursor to the CIA which was formed just
after the war.
The Vibroplex is a special kind of telegraph key
and has been in production for 105 years. Morse code consist of two
symbols, a Dit and a Dah, which is three Dits long. For instance, the
character "a" is Dit sp DitDitDit, or DitDah.
You see the paddle at the right of the photo
above: The operator creates each Dah manually by pressing the paddle to
the right at right speed for each Dah. Dits are created when the operator
presses the paddle to the left. The Dits are mechanically created by a
weighted spring. The longer the operator holds the paddle to the left
the more Dits that are created. A kind of semi-automatic telegraph key.
Using a Vibroplex (also known as a "BUG") first requires a solid
familiarity with Morse Code which requires dedication and lots and lots
of practice. To use a Vibroplex requires considerable more
training and practice but speeds up to 40 words per minute can be
obtained, something almost impossible with a straight telegraph key.
The Vibroplex has largely been replaced by
electronic keyers which create both Dits and Dahs electronically with a
similar looking, but much simpler telegraph key. My radio has a built in
keyer and you can see my telegraph key in the picture above, the brass
device to the right of the headphones. Press the left paddle and Dahs
are automatically created. Press the right paddle and Dits are
automatically created. The result is a much cleaner, easier to read,
signal at any speed you chose.
So this will give a flavor for the age and significance of
this little card.
Learning Morse Code is no longer required to
obtain a Amateur Radio license but still widely used by hams. Morse Code
is the most reliable form of radio communications. All you have to hear
are the tones of the Dits and Dahs to copy a message and that can be
done with an extremely weak signal or one with interference. One aspect
of Amateur Radio is Moon Bounce. Hams bounce signals off the surface of
the moon to communicate over vast distances. Morse Code is the mode
used. Within the past few years Hams have also bounced signals off of
Venus. Again, Morse Code, and a lot of high tech behind it. Morse Code
is the original digital mode of communications and is not going away anytime soon.