New Book Brings Fresh Approach to Morse Code Training

In 1936, Ludwig Koch, a German psychologist, published the results of extensive research on Morse Code proficiency and showed how he trained students to copy at 12 words per minute in as little as 13.5 hours. That is by far the fastest Morse training program ever published.

Based on its documented success, Koch's method should have become widely, if not universally, adopted by hams trying to pass the 13-wpm or 20-wpm exams. But it wasn't. Today, very few people know about his work. How come?

"Very simply, Koch's technique was ahead of the technology of his time," says Dave Finley, N1IRZ, author of a new book on Morse training. "For most people, the kind of practice you need for Koch training wasn't available until microprocessors came along," Finley said. "Because the technology for using his method didn't exist back then, the method was forgotten."

In "Morse Code: Breaking the Barrier," published by MFJ Enterprises, Finley shows how, using a computer or a microprocessor-based pocket code trainer, today's hams and would-be hams can use Koch's technique to build high-speed code proficiency quickly and efficiently. Besides its speed, Finley says, Koch's method has another, more important advantage over "traditional" code-training methods.

"With Koch's method, you receive frequent, positive reinforcement -- assurance that you really are making progress. That means there are no 'plateaus,' you stay motivated and don't quit out of frustration," he says. "Koch's training speed was achieved with students hand-picked for code aptitude, so most people won't match that speed. However, the positive reinforcement of the Koch Method means that people will see results and stick with their training until they achieve their goal."

Finley, who used Koch's technique himself to go from no-code Technician to Amateur Extra Class, became an avid CW operator. "I learned that using Morse Code on the air is fun, and I'd like to help other hams join in on that fun after they've upgraded their licenses." For that reason, "Morse Code: Breaking the Barrier" also includes chapters on sending code with keys, bugs and keyers; on making your first CW QSOs; and on a variety of on-the-air activities where CW can make your hamming more fun.

The book also includes a fast-paced chapter on the fascinating history of telegraphy, both landline and wireless. "When we use Morse Code on the air, we become part of a tradition that goes back more than 150 years. Knowing that history adds to the pleasure of operating," Finley says.

"Morse Code: Breaking the Barrier" (MFJ-3400) is available for $14.95 plus shipping from MFJ Enterprises, Inc., P.O. Box 494, Mississippi State, MS 39762, (800) 647-1800, FAX (601) 323-6551, email:, WWW:, or from your nearest MFJ dealer.

For more information about the book, visit the author's World Wide Web page at URL: