Ward Cunningham

I am the original author of the Morse Code Teaching Machine.

I was licensed in high school as WN9VRU in 1967 and then as WA9VRU many gruling months later. I hated learning the code. I wrote this program so that others could get through this period quickly with practice text customized to their exact needs..

I was finally licensed as an amateur Extra while still in college and at a time when one traveled to Chicago to sit before an FCC examiner for a 20 wpm examinaton. I took the prestige callsign, K9OX, while a graduate student and took it with me to the Pacific Northwest where I live today.


This is me posing with my Icom 735 transeiver and my Kent squeeze key.

In the '90s I set out to learn high-speed code. I did this by operating on the air every night while my wife watched the evening news. I always worked at the same frequency, 7030, and got to know the other folks that did likewise. I had a lot of trouble getting past 25 wpm because I still copied with a pencil. An old-timer gave me the tip I was needing: copy with the lights out ... that way you won't reach for the pencil when you start to loose it. Within a few weeks I was comfortable at 30 and started hearing whole words, not just letters. This makes copying truely enjoyable.

The fastest I've ever copied was 40 wpm. That was in a conversation with a woman up in Washington who had truely excellent timing. She admitted to work at this. She used a keyboard for sending but was always careful to strike the keys at the point that they would sound best. That is, she avoided typing ahead which would let the keyboard do the timing.

I know people who regularly copy at 60 wpm. Copy for them was so effortless that they could chat with you while they did so. At 60 wpm one copies every word as a word which makes word spacing completely optional or even undesirable.

For comparison, the operators that showed Morse Faster Than Text Messaging were operating at 30 wpm.

My ham radio pages can be found at http:/~ward/morse.


Last edited January 3, 2016
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