"Sparks" was also the nickname
given to the radio
operator aboard a ship, especially in the days of tube electronics
. As the shipboard environment
was always a little damp and salty, the equipment needed constant supervision to operate
, and had a dedicated radio operator to maintain the system as well as communicate with other ships and the shore
. Also, as messages in the day were almost exclusively in morse code
(as the contact was so noisy and of such poor quality that only code pulses could make their way through with any clarity) a dedicated operator was required to send and recieve messages.
Due to the nature of electrical circuitry, especially those of an antique vintage, sparks and coronal discharges were common, and the unaccquainted would often shock themselves on the equipment when they made a pilgramage to the cubbyhole where "Sparks" and his gear resided.