learnt morse because it intrigued me…
Extract of my history on how I started in Radio:
One day, back in… 1984, 1985 maybe… when I was 10 or 11 years old, while walking around my home city Camagüey/Cuba (300000 hab), I saw thru a windows a room full of telegraph keys, it was a semi-military organization’s office named SEPMI that used to teach parachuting, how to shoot, swimming, telegraphy and maybe several other (semi)military related activities for civilians. So I asked my mother what were those thingies screwed to the tables? She told me it was an ancient way of sending telegrams, and told me that Agramonte, the chief or person in charge of the local post office was a telegraphist himself, that he used to send telegrams for the local post office. As she worked in the same company with him, we went to where Agramonte, and he was more than happy to talk with me about quite unknown things of telegraphy like dots and dashes, the correct way to hold the key and move the wrist.
Agramonte told me how was his work back in the 40’s and 50’s, etc., how he used to transmit at around 40wpm and write directly the telegram using a typing machine.. how it evolved in the then modern teletypes, he was even smart enough to read the teletype tape directly. Do you remember that teletype stripe with 5 holes in a colum representing a letter? I think it was kind of a baudot code. Well he was able to read directly from that punched tape and I was like “WOOOOOW”!!
Well, he then showed me what they used for sending telegrams, what a vertical key is (and other types of key), and showed me some sort of artifact that made sounds when he pressed the key. TACK tack tack, TACK.. or something, it was not dit/dashes but TACKs. It has a coil and some sort of metal bar above and the coil circuit got activated by the keypress and the metal bar slammed on the coil. Well, he gave me an old vertical key as a gift, a key I still have… someday I will polish it because it needs it. I used that key when I started in radio as CL7PE… I screwed that key to a thick piece of wood and glued a rectangle of the inner tube of a car tire to the bottom to minimize the key to “walk” around the table when using it and it still like this as of today.
I then learnt the code, I went to the SEPMI to learn and also Isidro, a friend of my parents, soldered and prepared for me a small CPO so I could practice at home with myself.