Hanging by a Thread

The global telecommunications industry passed a little-noticed milestone last month when the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced it was dropping a longstanding requirement that holders of amateur radio licenses be proficient in Morse code. These days, few save hobbyists use electronic dots and dashes for messaging. But in 1858, when the first undersea communications cable linking two continents was strung between the U.S. and the U.K., Morse code was the industry standard. A century and a half later, the FCC's move makes it an all-but-dead language.

Primitive though Morse may be, the world may want to keep...

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