Baudot code

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The Baudot code, invented by Émile Baudot,[1] is a character set predating EBCDIC and ASCII. It was the predecessor to the International Telegraph Alphabet No 2 (ITA2), the teleprinter code in use until the advent of ASCII. Each character in the alphabet is represented by a series of bits, sent over a communication channel such as a telegraph wire or a radio signal. The symbol rate measurement is known as Baud, and is derived from the same name.



Baudot invented his original code during 1870 and patented it during 1874. It was a 5-bit code, with equal on and off intervals, which allowed telegraph transmission of the Roman alphabet and punctuation and control signals. It was based on an earlier code developed by Carl Friedrich Gauss and Wilhelm Weber in 1834.[2][3][4]

The code was entered on a keyboard which had just five piano type keys, operated with two fingers of the left hand and three fingers of the right hand. Once the keys had been pressed they were locked down until mechanical contacts in a distributor unit passed over the sector connected to that particular keyboard, when the keyboard was unlocked ready for the next character to be entered, with an audible click (known as the "cadence signal") to warn the operator. Operators had to maintain a steady rhythm, and the usual speed of operation was 30 words per minute.[5] Baudot's code became known as International Telegraph Alphabet No. 1, and is no longer used.

Murray code

During 1901 Baudot's code was modified by Donald Murray (1865–1945), prompted by his development of a typewriter-like keyboard. The Murray system employed an intermediate step, a keyboard perforator, which allowed an operator to punch a paper tape, and a tape transmitter for sending the message from the punched tape. At the receiving end of the line, a printing mechanism would print on a paper tape, and/or a reperforator could be used to make a perforated copy of the message.[6] As there was no longer a direct correlation between the operator's hand movement and the bits transmitted, there was no concern about arranging the code to minimize operator fatigue, and instead Murray designed the code to minimize wear on the machinery, assigning the code combinations with the fewest punched holes to the most frequently used characters.

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