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However, the code was soon expanded by Alfred Vail in 1840 to include letters and special characters, so it could be used more generally.
Vail estimated the frequency of use of letters in the English language by counting the movable type he found in the type-cases of a local newspaper in Morristown. In the original Morse telegraphs, the receiver's armature made a clicking noise as it moved in and out of position to mark the paper tape.
Because many non-English natural languages use more than the 26 Roman letters, extensions to the Morse alphabet exist for those languages.
On the other hand, the three Americans' system for telegraphy, which was first used in about 1844, was designed to make indentations on a paper tape when electric currents were received.
Morse's original telegraph receiver used a mechanical clockwork to move a paper tape.
When an electrical current was received, an electromagnet engaged an armature that pushed a stylus onto the moving paper tape, making an indentation on the tape.
When the current was interrupted, a spring retracted the stylus, and that portion of the moving tape remained unmarked.