Crowds of people pass the window of the CUB Bookie on the WSU Pullman campus daily, most never noticing marks etched on the window there.
They’re not just decorative.
The line of dots and dashes are Morse code, and spell out W S U.
The pattern has been there since Barnes and Noble remodeled the space when the CUB was undergoing a multimillion-dollar renovation in 2008. It seems to have gone largely unnoticed over the years, aside from a couple mentions on Reddit.
“It was something the designer for Barnes and Noble’s interiors came up with. They were looking for a way to break up the expanse of glass in a subtle way and somehow came up with the WSU Morse code idea,” said Jeff Lannigan, associate director for utilities and energy in WSU Facilities Services. “I’ve always thought it was clever.”
Chuck Crane, an architect who was involved with the CUB renovation, said he doesn’t recall it ever being discussed with the building design team.
Morse code was created in the 1800s and named after Samuel Morse, one of the inventors of the telegraph machine. Each letter is a specific pattern of short and/or long sounds, tapped out on the machine by a telegraph operator and decoded on the other end. Morse code was the international language used for distress calls well into the 20th century. The French Navy formally retired its use in 1997 with the somewhat dramatic last message, “Calling All. This is our last cry before our eternal silence.”
Federico Serrano, a graduate physics student who posted about the Bookie window on Reddit, said he first noticed it a few weeks ago.
“I was in the Starbucks drinking coffee and I noticed the pattern,” he said. “It was a common pattern, an irregular pattern, and I thought ah, this is clearly Morse code.”
Barnes and Noble’s college retail unit didn’t respond to a request for comment, but if they had we assume they’d say, “— — • — — — — • — • — — — • • — — — • • • •” (G O C O U G S).