The French say arobase; the Dutch call it a monkey’s tail; and in Japan it is atto maaku.



On a qwerty keyboard, it’s shift-2. And next month, amateur radio enthusiasts will call it dit-dah-dah-dit-dah-dit. That is when the symbol @ officially becomes the newest character in the Morse code.

“As far as we know, this is the first change to the code in at least 60 years,” said Gary Fowlie, a spokesman for the International Telecommunication Union, which will oversee the official update on May 3.



In 1844, Samuel Morse sent the first Morse code message over a long-distance telegraph. The phrase “what hath God wrought” traveled almost instantly from Washington to Baltimore. The code was later used by the military, and today, ham radio enthusiasts communicate with it as a hobby. With the rise of e-mail, Morse code must now reckon with the @ symbol, essential to every e-mail address. Ham radio hobbyists use Morse code to exchange e-mail addresses, said Rick Lindquist, the senior news editor at the American Radio Relay League, the largest association of amateur radio enthusiasts in the United States.



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