According to Floyd Davidson :
Amateur radio operators often use "c.w." as a kind
of informal short form for radiotelegraphy. It isn't
what it actually means.
[ ... ]
Here is the technical definition of "continious wave", according
to the FTC 1037C Standards, available at
continuous wave (cw): A wave of constant amplitude and
Clearly it means a transmission that is neither amplitude,
frequency, nor phase modulated. Any such modulation necessarily
must cause a discontinuity in the wave. The only thing you can
do is turn it on and off... which is called radio telegraphy!
Well ... to *my* mind, even keying (turning on and off) is a
form of amplitude modulation -- a rather extreme one at 100% modulation.
And it is certainly causing a discontinuity in the wave.
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