Amateur radio has come a long way since the glory days of vacuum tubes, once referred to as valves, and open construction transmitters containing very high voltages and exposed contacts. A lot has been refined and many of the every day devices used by the general public were inventions created by Amateur radio operators.
One thing in particular that has changed is the licensing requirements, particularly for the entry level license known as the "Novice" class. One of the requirements for this entry level license was to learn Morse Code at a mere 5 words per minute. Today, the requirement to learn Morse Code is no longer necessary.
Many veterans of Amateur radio find this removal of Morse Code requirement to be of more harm than good to the Amateur radio service. Most feel that learning the Morse Code early in the stages of working with Amateur radio will provide a benefit to the applicant later on as they advance their knowledge and participation in the Amateur radio bands. Some actually find it offensive that the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) would go to the extent of removing the Morse Code requirement to obtain a license.
Me personally, I think that the position of taking it offensively or looking down upon applicants to a point where they should not be allowed to earn a license because they are not required to learn Morse Code for the Novice level is taking it a bit extreme. Here is why I believe that.
Communications today utilize the latest technology. There are devices that easily allow anyone with absolutely no Morse Code knowledge to be able to receive and send Morse Code. These devices can "read" the code pulses sent by a CW (Continuous Wave) or modulated tone signal and display each letter sent on a screen or character display such as an LED display. These devices can also take simple text from a computer or even spoken words and convert them into the Morse Code which is then transmitted.
Does this necessarily mean that the operator using such a device would not be able to learn the Morse Code while using such a device and later actually send out messages using the typical Morse Code key?
I think that the old traditional ways and those who are firmly planted in those ways have a point, however I do not think or believe that removing the Morse Code requirement at the early levels of Amateur radio licensing is such a bad thing. I have seen even the Amateur Extra classes use these devices sitting next to their old Morse Code key and which one is used most often? The more modern device! I have even heard some say that they use that device because of some sort of problem with their hands such as arthritis or motor control issue and even attribute it to hearing or eye sight problems! To me that is laughable.
Maybe its true some of the old timers cant hold the hand steady to key in the right "dots and dashes". Maybe its true they cannot hear the tones completely and miss a letter or two. Anything is possible.
But is it really fair that entry level applicants should be shunted and frowned upon because there is no longer a Morse Code requirement to earn an Amateur radio license? Are those individuals any less deserving of a license than their counterparts of 20+ years ago?
It has been proven that the removal of the Morse Code requirement has drastically increased the number of applicants for the Amateur radio service. More individuals are attracted to Amateur radio now more than ever before because of the removal of the Morse Code requirement, which means more participation and more stations to serve in times of emergencies when other forms of communication are down.
I believe that the old veterans of Amateur radio should welcome the new licensees with open arms and put away the attitudes over the no Morse Code requirement. Especially those old veterans sitting there right now using those modern electronic Morse Code readers/senders while speaking into a mic or typing the messages out on a keyboard!
There is room for both in the Amateur radio service.