KM4OLT - Mike's Ham Home
Morse Code was invented by Samuel F. B. Morse in 1836 where he demonstrated sending information over wires. The information was a series of signals of short and long pulses, the short being the dits and the long being the dahs.
But why morse code today? It sounds like an antiquated form of communication. Far from it. By nature of it's simplicity and also how it's transmitted over radio it can reach through where other forms of communication cannot. From a bandwith situation on radio it takes far less bandwith, meaning less power needed to reach the same distance. Because of it's on/off nature too it's usually easier to decipher the difference between silence and the dits and dahs. Some people prefer it to other forms when competing in contests. Simply for the fact that they can reach further with less power, and in some contests distance vs least amount of power is the key.
With personal computers has come a revolution of sending and receiving morse code via computers. Some have even made standalone uints that decode morse to an led or lcd screen. Some programs can listen to a wide band and decode multiple stations at the same time.
Many people try to learn morse by counting the dits and dahs. Bad mistake. In fact almost impossible at faster speeds. Actually if you listen to the sounds each letter makes they have their own unique rythm or sound. By recognizing letters by those unique sounds becomes second nature after a while.
Though none of the exams for a Ham operator require Morse code any more many people still enjoy it's charm, rythmic sounds, and novelty as well as it's effectiveness.
CW - Continuous Wave
MCW - Modulated Continuous Wave
Morse Code on Wiki - A more detailed explaination of Morse Code and a table of characters vs dits/dahs.
Morse Code History - A brief history of Morse Code
Morse Code and Radios - A Guide For Kids and Amateurs
Types of Morse Keyers - Over the years the types of keyers has been expanded upon. Some to make it easier to send, others to make it easier to send faster and faster code. Many are works of art in and of themselves. Some people collect them from different eras.
I have an Android phone and found Morse Machine works great. When I have time I play with learning more and more characters.
Some Links to helpful information regarding Morse Code
Morse Code Machine - I like it for just practicing making the characters using the sounds. using the Press Here button by clicking the mouse quick for a dit and holding it for a dah I had it sound out and show the letters of my name.
Learn CW Online - with this you only need a browser. No software to install and you have your personal settings attached to your account so you can do it anywhere you have access to the internet and a browser.
Morse Test - Scroll down to the bottom. Click on Start. It's a nice test to check if you know the letters by looking at the dots and dashes. Mainly helpful in the beginning so that you know what you have to use to send a particular letter.
Morse Code Training Software - several links to different software that you can install to learn Morse Code. I don't think I've tried any of these. There's so many to choose from. You shouldn't have a problem finding one that works for you nicely.
Some people use electronic keyers. They can be used to change the speed, sidetones, etc. Some experienced users cringe at anything computerized or automated. To each their own. That's why there is variety in the ham radio world. People experiment and learn new and different ways of doing things. So you have to become somewhat thick skinned and just ignore them or remind them what the hobby is about.
Arduino CW Keyer - an open source Arduino based CW (Morse Code) keyer. You can buy a kit for ~$56 US at http://www.hamshop.cz/open-cw-keyer-c27/open-cw-keyer-i196/ Since it is open source and looks to have a ton of features it might be a future project for myself to build one.
nanoKeyer - a PS/2 keyboard keyer. They are currently building a new house so kits aren't available at this time. But if you really wanted one everything is there it seems to get a PCB done yourself.