“CW” is amateur radio lingo for “morse,” roughly. It’s an antiquated reference to “continuous wave” which in turn is meant to distinguish from the very ancient times when morse transmissions (the only kind) were just spark gaps.

CW Academy is an online 8-week course meant to bring someone who’s never done morse code (me) up to a reasonable standard. I’m in week 3 of meeting twice per week and it’s been going pretty well. Now I’m up to doing several letters and numbers, both being able to understand them, copy, and to send.

And because this is ham radio, it also involves some gear:

Bencher Morse key with an audio jack connector, coiled up.
Bencher morse key

This is (as I understand it) sort of the standard iambic key, having two paddles.

One thing that I want to dig into more is the intersection between morse and really early computer hardware. I haven’t seen anything explicitly, but I’m assuming that there’s a crossover between morse prosigns and teletype control codes. And then in turn, there’s definitely a straight line from teletype control characters and modern terminal emulators. This strikes me as pretty cool that there could be a direct lineage from what we put in text files today with, 150+ year old communication modes.