As connoisseurs of history, we sometimes find styles, habits and turns of phrase from the past that we wouldn’t mind bringing back to the present, Doc Brown-style. This time around, we’re dusting off morse code.

You never know.

It’s one of the few constants of life. After tomorrow, you could be lost in the wilderness, wrestling bears for survival. You could find yourself becalmed on the high seas, signaling to passing ships with a flashlight. The future is cloudy, like the fortune tellers say.

All you can do is try to develop skills that will get you through any situation intact. Skills like knot-tying, tent-pitching…and an ostensibly outdated system known as Morse Code.

Of course, as methods of remote communication go, it’s slightly outmoded. You could text, telephone, email, Facebook post, fax or smoke signal—any one of which would offer a more reliable and emotive method of getting your point across. But as we move into a world in which no one uses or understands Morse, it means a simple S.O.S. may be falling on deaf ears—not to mention the offbeat skill of manning a telegraph at speed, which has a rhythm all its own. Take a few minutes with a telegraph machine (and the metal plate above), and you’ll start to see what we mean.

And if you’re ever trapped in the hold of a super tanker with nothing but a pair of wires…you’ll be well equipped to MacGyver your way out.

—R.B.

CONTRIBUTORS

  • Russell Brandom