The International Code of Signals is properly considered as indispensable to the seafaring world. It is of such recognized importance than an international conference met some time ago in London to revise the code and put it into a form from which it could be adapted to seven languages instead of the former three.
Although the International Code of Signals has undergone numerous revisions in the past, its present development is largely a product of the past forty-four years, as it was not until 1889 that a complete flag alphabet was provided. It is possible that the various conferences and national representatives have not had available for their guidance a small book which may be considered as one of the first attempts at an international code. This book, dated 1818, is “The Universal Signal Book, Containing a Complete Code of Signals for the use of Merchant's Ships of all Nations, by N. Squire, with Improvements adapted to the Vessels of the United States of America by James M. Elford.”