character encoding system originally invented for use with the telegraph, by 1860, earlier Morse key (1858), so called in honor of Samuel F.B. Morse (1791-1872), U.S. inventor who produced a system of telegraphic communication in 1836. He invented both the recording telegraph and the alphabet of dots and dashes.
c. 1600, "victory involving one's own ruin," translating Greek Kadmeia nikē, from Cadmus (Greek Kadmos), legendary hero-founder of Thebes in Boeotia and bringer of the original sixteen-letter alphabet to Greece. Probably a reference to the story of Cadmus and the "Sown-Men," who fought each other till only a handful were left alive. Compare Pyrrhic (adj.1).