Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Going through a box of inherited antiques, I ran across a small book entitled "Unicode". No, it has nothing to do with early computer languages- it's a set of codes used in telegraph messages,published in 1922. These codes were used to avoid running up large fees, as telegraph messages were charged by the word- hence "Unicode", a series of words that represented entire sentences. For example, the word "Abrasi" meant "Met with an accident, boat upset, all safe". I found this fascinating, and flipped through the book to see what all kinds of situations were covered by this code, and was amused to find this one: "The improvement is not sustained" is replaced with the single word "Dogma".


Scott Wells said...

Do you have a citation for it; as you can imagine, finding a book on Unicode that's not about an alphabetic system is pretty hard.

Chalicechick said...


Joel Monka said...

>Scott From Wikipedia:
"Telegraph companies charged based on the length of the message sent. Therefore, to save money, elaborate commercial codes were developed that encoded common phrases as words or numbers. Another aim of the telegraph codes was to reduce the risk of misunderstanding by avoiding having similar words mean similar things.

Those sending telegraph messages were also able to encrypt the messages to ensure secrecy.

Examples of these codes include the A.B.C Telegraphic Code, Bentleys Second Phrase Code and Unicode."

Scott Wells said...