Dots and dashes still fascinating

Richie Bright at home with the apparatus he uses for morse code messages.
Richie Bright at home with the apparatus he uses for morse code messages.

Mr Bright is the secretary of the Morsecodians Fraternity of WA, and will soon be keying messages at the Perth Royal Show, showing the younger generation how messages were once sent and received.

Mr Bright joined the fraternity when it started in 1997, after a device was invented to allow morse code to be transmitted via a slow-speed modem.

‘We have about 95 members now, mostly people who used morse in the military, in the then Postmaster-General’s Department and railways,’ he said.

Before joining the group, Mr Bright had not used the system since he worked in the post office in the 1950s.

‘When I joined the post office in 1949, you had to start off as a telegram messenger and in your spare time you learnt morse which you had to know to get a promotion,’ he said.

‘Once I got up to a certain speed I went to the Perth GPO for nine months’ training, where I also learnt telegraphy and then I was posted to Merredin.’

Mr Bright used morse code for about 10 years until it was declared obsolete.

‘Once you have learnt morse code you don’t forget it,’ he said.

‘It is similar to learning your alphabet; once you learn that sound you never forget it.’

Mr Bright has two morse code devices in his Dianella house.

He happily demonstrates how seemingly complex combinations of dots and dashes can be interpreted into sentences, with numbers and punctuation included in the tapped- out messages.

Mr Bright and his family chose to live in Dianella after moving from the country in 1979.

He has since happily called the suburb home and now that he is retired he particularly enjoys its proximity to shopping centres, public transport and the Yokine Golf Course.