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History of the Ham Radio Callsign

Mike Ritz (W7VO) on May 20, 2017
View comments about this article!

The Storied History of the Ham Radio Call Sign

Every legal amateur radio operator in the world has a government issued call sign, and many hams are better known to their radio friends by their call sign than they are by their given birth name. The uniqueness and prestige of a call sign is indeed one of the most important things that provide the persona that IS amateur radio. Remember when you first opened that letter from the FCC, it was not unlike Christmas day as you learned what your new call sign would be. From then on, you would be known by that call sign.

Call signs are important indeed. Think of the call sign W1AW, and 99% of hams would know that this once identified Hiram Percy Maxim, the founder of the ARRL. The call sign was so important that it became the official call sign of the ARRL. But, if one thinks about it, we don’t really own these call signs, they’re leased to us by the FCC for our use as long as we remain licensed. We are the caretakers, and when we become a silent key, they are passed along to the next caretaker. (This author is the fifth caretaker of the W7VO call sign, and seventh if one includes the original 7VO, which has been traced back to 1922.) However, this begs the question; where did our treasured call signs first originate, and what is the evolution of this most important moniker? Of course, one cannot discuss call signs without covering some of the storied history of amateur radio itself in the process.

The origins of amateur radio call signs go back to the earliest days of radio, informally at first, then more formalized as major world events transpired that changed the face of amateur radio itself. This evolution can be broken down into five distinct periods of history:

1) The Pioneer Years, pre - 1918

2) The Reconstructive Years, 1918 - 1927

3) The Pre-War Years, 1928 - 1941

4) The Post-War Years, 1945 - 1975

5) The Modern Era, 1975 - present

The Pioneer Years, pre 1918, “The Days of Anarchy”

The very early days of ham radio was an interesting time, not completely unlike the untamed wild west itself. Prior to 1912 there were no real laws governing the new communications medium known as “wireless”, it was for the most part completely unregulated. The airwaves of the time consisted of signals emitting from crude spark gap transmitters, by a combination of governmental, commercial interests, and fledgling ham radio operators (who mostly worked for these other interests). The Marconi Company was among the first to use three letter call signs to identify their transatlantic coastal wireless telegraph stations, and to identify their company owned shipboard stations. The coastal station call signs started either with a “V” (for “Voice of (somewhere)”, or “M” (for “Marconi”), while the shipboard stations just used the starting letter of “M”. Amateur radio operators for the most part started off by using just names as identifiers, such as “BILL” or “MAC”, then that evolved into a combination of two or three letters, a mixture of letters and numbers, or even just numbers! It would be easy to see that there ended up being a LOT of overlap in call signs, both commercially, and among hams themselves. Was “MAC” a Marconi Company owned shipboard station sailing off the coast of Newfoundland, or Miles A. Cornwall (using the call sign “MAC”), the ham radio operator in New York? With such a limited range for the spark gap transmitter (often around a hundred miles or so), this wasn’t much of an issue, (at least at first.)

However, as the airwaves became more and more congested it was clear that more needed to be done to coordinate and publish established call signs to reduce conflicts. While there were publications that listed known commercial wireless stations, the May 1908 publication of Modern Electrics magazine published one of the very first list (a “wireless registry”) of known amateur wireless radio operators, their associated call signs, and also the approximate wavelength they operated on. (One could argue that these are really the first ten documented ham radio operators!) Most of these hams used two letter identifiers signifying their initials, but one ham, Otto Curtis of Rochester, New York was simply known as “Q”, long before the letter became associated as fictional James Bond’s technical advisor.

By May of 1909 the “wireless registry” listed many more amateur wireless stations and their call signs, most listed were using three letters by now. (It’s interesting to note that many used two letters followed by the third letter of “M” to denote that they were employees of Marconi Company). Some hams were listed with a combination of letters and numbers, such as J.C. Randall of Albany, New York who was listed signing as “S4”, and F.W Harris of Renton, Washington, who signed simply as “3B”. One special call sign listed was that of Earl C. Hawkings of Minneapolis, Minnesota who utilized the call sign of “HAM”. I guess one could argue that he was the first real “ham”!

In such an unregulated environment that had many wireless stations competing, (all utilizing transmitters with very broad emission spectrums), and coupled with crude receivers on the other end, conflicts caused by both unintentional and intentional interference were commonplace. This was getting worse by the day, and one day it all came to a head. That day was April 15, 1912.

On that fateful day, the seemingly impossible happened. The “unsinkable” RMS Titanic (call sign: MGY), with 2,200 passengers aboard hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic, and was sinking fast. While there were hundreds of passengers eventually rescued by the RMS Carpathia (call sign: MPA), several problems with wireless radio communications of the day played a key role in delaying the rescue effort, and undoubtedly added to the Titanic’s fatality totals. For one, the shipboard wireless station aboard the Titanic was owned and manned by employees of Marconi Company. Marconi’s main competition for the ship wireless telegraph market was bitter rival Telefunken, based in Germany. At the time Marconi Company owned stations were not allowed to have any contact with Telefunken owned stations (call signs beginning with a “D”), and as a result messages from the competition were largely ignored. In addition, there was both unintentional and intentional interference from other commercial stations (and hams alike), making for even a more chaotic scene. Many thought the distress signals from the doomed ship were fake. After all, how could the “unsinkable” Titanic really be sinking? It must be “fake news”!

There was also a third issue. The Marconi Company early on had established the “CQD” (“CQ Distress”), message. The now familiar “SOS” (“Save Our Ship, or “Save Our Souls”), had actually been made the worldwide standard at the second International Radiotelegraphic Convention, was signed in 1906, and became effective on July 1, 1908. This was a full four years earlier than the Titanic sinking Only the Marconi Company equipped ships still used “CQD” as the standard distress message when the Titanic ran aground.

While the above is a nice narrative about a well-known disaster, what does this have to do with amateur radio call signs? When the dust settled, the US Congress began investigations into how to keep this disaster from repeating itself. Besides the sole remaining Titanic wireless operator, Harold Bride, the radio pioneer and tycoon Guglielmo Marconi himself was called before Congress to explain his company’s practices. The end result of these hearings became what is known as the Radio Act of 1912, written into law on August 13, 1912. This historic act had the following provisions, among others:

1.) It established a Federal law that mandated that all ships constantly monitor distress frequencies, (the primary one at that time set at 600 meters (500 kHz))

2.) Mandated that the familiar Morse “SOS” be the defacto standard for distress calls

3.) Mandated that all radio stations in the US be inspected and licensed by the federal government.

4.) Provided the possibility of fines for intentional or malicious interference

5.) Limited experimenters (amateurs) to 200 meters wavelength (about 1.5 MHz) and lower, (as frequencies higher than that were considered “useless”!)

The end result of the new licensing requirements dramatically dropped the number of amateurs from about 10,000 to around 1,200 almost overnight, and almost killed off the hobby. This was a win for the Navy and commercial wireless interests, as they really didn’t want any “amateurs” on the air anyway, interfering with their airwaves. While US stations, (including amateurs), had to be inspected and licensed by the US government, this act didn’t really do much for formalizing call signs per-se.

On the international front, the International Radiotelegraph Convention of 1912 established the first internationally recognized call sign standards, based on the country. This standard replaced the random three letter call signs prevalent then. Major world powers were given single prefixes such as “N”, “ W”, and half of the “K” prefix allocations (KDA-KZZ) (United States), “A”, “D”, and “KAA-KCZ” (Germany), “F” (France), “B”, “M”, and “G” (Great Britain). The convention was signed at the International Radiotelegraph Conference in London on July 5, 1912. It is important to note that while these international standards were applied to commercial wireless stations, amateurs for the large part were still left on their own.

On May 9, 1913, the official United States Policy for Radio Call Letters was published:

“The call letters for amateur stations in the United States will be awarded by radio inspectors, each for his own district, respectively according to the following system:

(a) The call will consist of three items; number of radio district; followed by two letters of the alphabet. Thus, the call of all amateur stations in New England (which comprises the first district) will be the figure "one" in Continental Morse, followed by two letters; in California (in the sixth district) the figure "six" followed by two letters; in South Carolina the figure "four" followed by two letters; in Missouri the figure "nine" followed by two letters, etc. The letters “X”, “Y”, “Z”, must not be used as the first of the two letters.

The territory of each district was as follows:

(b) The three items; a given figure first, followed by two letters of the alphabet, thus may be combined in 598 different calls, which will probably suffice for the amateur sending stations in most districts for some time to come.

(c) Radio inspectors will insert amateur station calls in station licenses according to this system, and will keep a permanent chart, of 598 squares, lettered with the alphabet from left to right and from top to bottom (“A” to “W”), inserting in the appropriate square the serial license number of the station to which the call letters were awarded. Within these limitations radio inspectors will use their discretion in the award of calls, avoiding, of course, duplications.

(d) When a station is abandoned and the license canceled, or if a license shall be forfeited for violation of law, the call assigned to it may be allotted to another station.

(e) If the entire 598 calls have been exhausted, radio inspectors will issue additional calls, consisting of the figure of the district followed by three letters. From such combinations should be excluded the combination SOS, and PRB, all three-letter combinations beginning with QR or QS, all combinations involving the repetition of the same letter three times, three-letter combinations beginning with “K”, “N”, “W”, “X”, “Y”, “Z”, and other combinations, which, for various reasons, international, national, local, or individual, may be objectionable.”

The “official” US amateur ham radio station call sign was officially born, but what is interesting to note here was that the Department of Commerce, who was responsible for these regulations, thought that 598 call signs per district were plenty “for some time to come.” Little did they know that the number of US amateurs would balloon to the almost three-quarter million we have now!

Then on April 7th, 1917 the entire world of amateur radio was turned upside down, when by executive order amateurs were told to “dismantle and render inoperable radio wireless equipment, and antennas” as the United States formally entered ”The Great War”, World War One. This mandate applied to both receivers and transmitters, and all amateur licenses issued to date were immediately cancelled. Amateur radio was dead, and radio itself became a government monopoly utilized strictly for the war effort. To ignore this mandate could be considered an act of treason, so it was not taken lightly.

Radio amateurs, while no longer licensed, were a valuable asset for the war effort. They were encouraged by the government to help man coastal wireless stations and enlist in the Signal Corps for field radio operations.

The Reconstructive Years, 1918 - 1927, “Starting Over”

At the conclusion of the war the US Navy put together a very large push with the Congress to ensure that future amateur radio activity remained silent, so the military could continue to have the airwaves for themselves. Mostly due the effort of Hiram Maxim and the ARRL that effort was defeated, and amateurs could once again be licensed and back on the air starting in early 1919.

Since all licenses had been cancelled at the start of US involvement in the war, all previous call signs were forever lost. When the nine district radio offices once again opened for business amateurs lined up in an attempt to ensure low letter suffix assignments. (Are things really different now outside Apple stores these days when the new phones come out?)

As early as 1920 some of the call districts had run out of two letter suffix assignments, so began the three letter suffix call sign. (That said, there were some reassignments of two letter call signs, if you knew the right person!)

By 1923, as both receiver and transmitter technology greatly improved, international contacts between amateurs were becoming commonplace. Amateur stations, for the most part, still didn’t follow the call sign prefix standards set by the International Radiotelegraph Convention of 1912, so there were again problems related to duplication of call signs. Only this time on a worldwide scale. Remember that the policy established in 1913 did not cover call sign prefixes for amateurs, only the district assignments and suffixes. There could be a 2AL in New York working a 2AL in Brazil, or another one in England. Amateurs, (being inventive as they are), took the matter in their own hands, and sometime starting in the mid 1920’s US amateurs began using an unofficial “u” or “U” as a prefix on call signs to denote they were from the US. By 1927 the prefix “nu” (North America, United States) became commonplace on QSL cards (example: nu6AA), while a ham in Canada would use “nc” (North America, Canada) as a prefix, (ie: nc7AA).

In 1925 the Department of Commerce opened up the “Z” letter suffix for assignment, and allowed the “Y” letter suffixes to be used for educational institutions. Examples of the latter are still in use to this day; Stanford University is often on the air with W6YX (originally 6YX), and down the road San Jose State University is still on the air (since 1928) with the W6YL call sign. The “X” letter suffix remained for “experimental” stations, and was not released as a 1X2 (ie: W7XQ), standard call sign until 1977. Two-by-three letter “X” suffix call signs remain to this day reserved for experimental stations. Not exactly as the Convention of 1912 dictated, but better than nothing!

The Pre-War Years, 1927-1941, “Amateur Radio is Here to Stay!”

The Washington Conference / Radio Act of 1927 established formalized US amateur radio bands, and finally put US amateurs under international prefix rules that were loosely established in the international conference of 1913. As a result of this act a new commission was formed, the Federal Radio Commission. The commission was assigned the task of issuing licenses, including amateur radio. Also part of this latest act, the US was finally going to follow the already established International Telegraph Union (ITU) call sign standards.

The ITU standards were upgraded to grant the entire “K” prefix to the US, in addition to the existing “W” and “N” prefixes. (Remember that Germany had the “KAA” to “KCZ” prefixes issued previously). The Navy was reserved the “N” prefix, while starting in 1928 the “W” and “K” prefixes were authorized for civilian services, such as amateur radio. As new amateur licenses were issued, and old ones were renewed, the “W” prefix was simply added to the existing call sign. For example, the call sign of 6UO, (or the unofficial nu6UO), became W6UO. The “K” prefix at that time was reserved for US possessions, such as Alaska, Hawaii, and other islands. (Note that “A” block letters were unassigned until 1947, when the US received the “AA” through “AL” prefix blocks). The US amateur radio call sign had finally taken its modern shape we all know today.

Unrelated to amateur history, (but a question that always seem to arise), is the history of how the US commercial broadcast stations got geographically divided into “K” (for stations West of the Mississippi), and “W” for Eastern stations. This oddity goes back to early Federal Radio Commission regulations, and was originally applied to ships operating either in the Atlantic, (“K” prefixes), or Pacific or Great Lakes area (“W” prefix). Eventually, this was applied to land based commercial stations as well, (but somehow in reverse order), using (with exceptions), a rough line matching the course of the Mississippi river.

In 1933 President Franklin Roosevelt requested the Secretary of Commerce to appoint an interdepartmental committee for studying electronic communications. A recommendation was made by the committee for the establishment of a new agency that would regulate all interstate and foreign communication by both wire and radio, plus telegraphy, telephone and broadcast, under one umbrella. This resulted in what became known as the Communications Act of 1934. A key part of this act was the creation of a new federal organization known as the Federal Communications Commission, (FCC) to replace the Federal Radio Commission that was previously established in 1927. Amateur licenses were now moved under this new commission, and this act also created many of the laws that still govern the hobby to this day.

On December 7, 1941, the “day that will live in infamy”, the world of amateur radio was upended for the second time, as the US was drawn into the Second World War. All amateur activity was officially suspended January 9th 1942 for the remainder of the war. The big difference here though, was that the FCC continued to issue and were allowed to renew amateur radio operator licenses. After all, that gave the government a ready pool of trained and certified radio operators and technicians for the war effort. There were no station licenses issued, and existing ones were considered revoked. Once again hams were forced to silence their stations but at least this time, unlike the previous war, receivers were still allowed to be used.

This lasted until the war officially ended in September 1945, and shortly afterwards amateurs were granted limited permission to get back on the air in November of 1945, with only the ten and two meter bands to start. The US amateurs were back, even if only in a limited capacity at the time.

The Post-War Years, 1945-1975 “The Glory Years of Amateur Radio”

The Atlantic City International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Conference of 1947 (the ITU had changed its name in 1932), reallocated some call sign blocks, and granted a few developing island nations their own prefixes. Meanwhile in the US, the call sign districts were moved around to equalize ham populations.

During the war the Midwest , and West coast industrial centers had greatly increased the amateur radio populations in those areas. As a result, a new 10th call district formed for the central Midwest, allowing Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana to have the 9th district to themselves. The 6th district was changed to encompass California only. The remaining states that used to be part of the 6th district (Nevada, Arizona and Utah), were moved into the lesser populated 7th district. As licenses were renewed, the new call sign districts were mandated, and often entire call signs changed as a result. A new call was assigned to denote the new district, but one “might” keep their old suffix if it was currently unassigned in the new district. If the suffix was already assigned to somebody in the new district, a new suffix was assigned as well. For example, pioneer Charles Newcombe, 6UO, in Yerington, Nevada became W6UO in 1928, but had to change to W7VO when the state became part of the 7th district in 1947 as W7UO was already in use. The rule allowing special call sign suffix dispensation lasted until 1978, when the systematic call signs program began. (More on that later.)

Also at this time US Possessions had own unique prefixes assigned, ie: KP4 for Puerto Rico, KH6 for Hawaii, and KL7 for Alaska.

In 1951 there was a big push to create an “entry level” amateur license, so in response the FCC created a new Novice amateur radio license class, originally as a one year, non-renewable, low power, and CW only license. These new “novices” were assigned either a WN or a KN prefix, but the “N” would be dropped form the call sign once the licensee upgraded. (For example, new novice WN7XYZ would get a new call sign of W7XYZ once he upgraded.). When the FCC ran out of “KN” and “WN” call signs, they began issuing “WV” prefixes for novices, which became “WA” or “WB prefix calls when upgraded. US Possessions used “W” for the first letter of the novice prefix, (ie: WH6ABC to denote a novice call sign, which changed to KH6ABC when upgraded).

Another interesting thing happened at the same time. Another new class of license was created, called the “Technician” class. It was a new VHF/UHF/microwave (220 MHz and higher) licensed designed to encourage experimental exploration of these frequencies, (but not intended as a communicators license!) The call sign assignments for the Technician class license followed the same rules as all of the other amateur classes, except Novice. Since Novice and Technician privileges didn’t overlap, it was possible to hold two different call signs at the same time. There was also another rule that if an amateur had homes, (such as a “snowbird”), in two different FCC districts, he or she could hold call signs that reflected the numbers of both districts. So, technically, one amateur could potentially hold four amateur call signs simultaneously! It is unknown whether anybody ever took advantage of this loophole, but it was technically possible. When the Novice license was upgraded, the Technician license was forfeited, as the General class already included all Technician privileges. This system was in force until sometime in the 1960’s.

As the number of licensed amateur operators greatly increased in the boom years following the war, “W” prefix call signs started to run out, so starting in 1947 the first “K” prefix calls began to appear in the continental US. By 1953 most districts were issuing them, and some still were until 1964. (The 9th call district area was first to implement the new “K” prefix)

By the late 50’s/early 60’s all of the possible combinations of 1X3 format “K” were all assigned in some districts, so “WA” and “WB” (2X3 format) call signs started appearing. “WB” call signs were issued from 1965 to 1975, but in the mid 1970’s some districts were also running out of “WB” calls, so the FCC began recycling old “WA” calls that were expired or otherwise unused in the system. (The author’s first call sign was one of these, WA6HKP). The amateur ranks were filling up fast!

However, the recycling of old call signs was not new when they began reissuing unused “WA” call signs. Starting in 1966, (and until 1977), Extra Class licensees, licensed for 25 years or more, could apply for unused 1X2 call signs.

The Modern Era, 1975 to Present “Things get complicated”

The issuance of the recycled call signs was a lot of extra work for the FCC, so it began issuing new “WD” prefix call signs in the 8th, 9th and 10th area call districts, starting around 1976. (In 1978 the “WD” prefix was replaced with the “KA” prefix, as systematic licensing was put into place). But what happened to the “WC” prefix, which logically should have come after “WB”? The answer is; those prefixes were reserved for Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) stations at the time. VHF and UHF club owned repeaters also had their own 2X3 format call signs issued, starting with the “WR” prefix. At least one “WT” (WT6AAA) call sign is known to have been issued in the 1970’s, as a “temporary” call after a FCC mixup denied a prospective amateur’s new license. (He had the same first and last names as somebody who previously had their license revoked, and once cleared up a temporary license was issued until the standard license could be processed).

In 1975 the FCC released special 1x1 call signs for special event stations, choice 1x2, and “AA-AL” and “Nprefix call signs. Starting in 1977 the 25 year licensing requirement was dropped for Extra Class upgrades to unused 1X2 call signs, and in addition, the 1X2 “N” (ie: N1AA) prefix call signs were added to the mix. Also, the new 2X2 “AA-AL” prefixes (ie: AA7CR) became available for Extra class licensees. There were certainly a lot of new “Extra Class only” call signs to choose from, and many licensees took advantage of the opportunity!

However, just as things seemed to be running smoothly for the issuance of call signs, in early 1977 a FCC employee at the 3rd District office in Gettysburg, PA was indicted for taking bribes offered by amateurs wanting special call signs, and who did not have the license class to be awarded the change, (among other issues). This unfortunate event resulted in the termination of all then informal FCC processes for issuing call signs. The new rules implemented on February 23, 1978 required that all amateur call signs must be issued only by the "systematic" process as specified in the rules. No specific call signs could be assigned; call signs were instead assigned consecutively, via a computer database. There were a few other sweeping changes:

· Amateurs were no longer required to change their call sign when moving to a new district.

· Secondary, Repeater, Control, and Auxiliary Station licenses were discontinued

· Call signs were now going to be assigned by Groups, and by license class

The Groups were defined as:

Group A -- Amateur Extra Class
Contains all “K”, “N” and “W” 1x2, most 2x1, and most "AA-AK" prefixed 2x2 call signs

Group B -- Advanced Class
Contains most “K”, “N”, and “W” prefixed 2x2 call signs

Group C -- Technician & General Class, (and later, the Technician Plus Class)
Contains all “N” 1x3 call signs. Unassigned “W” and “K” prefixed 1x3 call signs are not issued under the sequential call sign system, but are available under the later Vanity call sign system

Group D -- Novice Class
Contains most “K” and “W” prefixed 2x3 call signs. The letter “X” may not be the first digit of the suffix.

Note that no provision had been made for the issuance of AA-AL and NA-NZ prefixed 2x3 call signs, and these call signs are not currently issued to anyone.

In 1995 the Vanity “for a price” program opens, consisting of four “gates”:

Gate 1: 5/31/96, for those amateurs that had held a call before, or eligible for “in
memoriam” calls
7/22/96, for Club station trustees that were eligible for “in memoriam” calls

Gate 2: 9/23/96, Amateur Extra requests

Gate 3: 8/6/97, Advanced Class requests

Gate 4: 12/2/97, Everybody else

So now we have the full history of the ham radio call sign, from the infancy days of amateur radio, until the present day. What does the future hold for our call signs? Who knows? Eventually, the “N” and “A” 2X3 call sign formats will have to come into play as the “K” and “W” prefixes run out. There also have been other ideas floated out there that include authorizing a mixture of letters and numbers for Extra class call signs, similar to what is in use in Europe. (ie: W71VO), or even the “sale” of 1X1 call signs to Extras, now reserved for special event stations.

In conclusion, please take the time to appreciate the past efforts and tenacity our forefathers, and especially the gallant early efforts of the ARRL, had to ensure that the hobby we all enjoy as radio amateurs even exists today. Our unique call signs define who we are as amateurs, and have from the start. Please remember to take good care of our special call sign heritage for future generations of amateurs.

Bibliography:

http://earlyradiohistory.us/1913call.htm
http://legisworks.org/sal/37/stats/STATUTE-37-Pg302b.pdf
http://www.americanradiohistory.com/Archive-FCC/Federal%20Radio%20Act%201927.pdf\
http://www.rollanet.org/~n0klu/Ham_Radio/History%20of%20Ham%20Radio.pdf
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amateur_radio_licensing_in_the_United_States

Member Comments:
Add A Comment
 
History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by AK4YH on May 20, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Great article, thank you!
 
History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by KA2LIM on May 20, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Very Informative, thank you for sharing.
 
History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by KC8JX on May 20, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks very much for this extremely informative history article; well researched.
 
RE: History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by K0UA on May 20, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Great informative article. This should be a "sticky" placed somewhere.
 
RE: History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by N4CQR on May 20, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Outstanding work!

73 Craig
 
History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by W5ZIT on May 20, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Some Added Information.

In late 1953 in the 5th call area district, call signs with the W5 prefix were re-issued for several months before starting the K5 series. My callsign (W5ZIT) and my buddies callsign W5ZKD were issued in mid 1953 and another buddy was issued W5ATF and W5ZKD's brother was issued W5ENA. Another buddy was issued W5GSP before another member of our high school ham group was issued K5AVH.

So for a brief time callsigns were re-issued before starting the K5 series.

73 - Jim W5ZIT
 
RE: History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by W7VO on May 20, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks for the update, Jim. I'll add it in the next revision!

73;
Mike
W7VO
 
RE: History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by W7VO on May 20, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks to everybody! This article has been a passion of mine, and is taken from a presentation that I put together for local ham clubs here in the Pacific Northwest. It was turned down by QST Magazine, so I asked to publish the work here instead.
Unfortunately, this version on e-Ham is less all the graphics and QSL card samples that go along with it, but I'll publish something later with all the graphics included somewhere else.

Thanks again!

73;
Mike
W7VO
 
RE: History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by N4KC on May 20, 2017 Mail this to a friend!

Absolutely great article. Thanks for all the work. I had wondered about some of these things. I only vaguely remember the circumstances of my requesting my 1 X 2 call way back in the mid-70s. I got my second choice. Now, if anyone actually knew "KC" was once a common reference to "kilocycle" before we finally honored Mr. Hertz with "khz."

And I hope W4IC enjoyed his call, the one that he beat me to!

Don N4KC
www.n4kc.com
www.donkeith.com



 
History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by W8RXL on May 20, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Great Article, but I have a question, when did they add the 1X3 calls into the call sign pools?
 
History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by WA7ZK on May 20, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Great article. In the early years up to about 1925 the X,Y, and Z calls were reserved for special use. The "Z" calls were issued to Amateurs that were also commercial radiotelegraph operators at sea. My great uncle was issued his 7ZK call in 1920. He was the Sparky on the SS Senator in the late teens and early twenties. The "Z" calls permitted the licensee to operate on 300 meters as well as regular amateur privileges. He became inactive about 1923 and went to Dental school to become a Dentist. I remember him telling me he was later thrilled getting back his old "Z" call (1939 W7ZK). 73 Mark
 
History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by KB9FMV on May 20, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
GREAT ARTICLE !!!!!!!!!!!

Thank you
Paul
KB9FMV
 
History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by K8AXW on May 20, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
GREAT article representing a great deal of research. This article is a "keeper" that one can reference to if the need arises.

Thank you for this piece.. BTW, it should be in QST magazine!

73

AL - K8AXW ex-K3FKA

 
History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by WA7SGS on May 20, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I liked the "T" for Temporary callsign trivia. That was the first time to hear about that! I do wonder why QST would not want a historical article about callsigns in their magazine?

Rick
 
History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by K9FV on May 20, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Great article, and sure glad you posted. One tiny question, you mentioned "Only the Marconi Company equipped ships still used “CQD” as the standard distress message when the Titanic ran aground."

Ran aground???? Didn't it hit an iceberg?

Again, GREAT article.

Ken H>
 
RE: History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by W7VO on May 20, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Good to know about the "Z" suffix. I will have to research that one. I hadn't heard that before.

73;
Mike
W7VO
 
RE: History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by W7VO on May 20, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Ran aground???? Didn't it hit an iceberg?

I said that earlier in the text. I guess I need to fix that in the later text.

Thanks!

73;
Mike
W7VO
 
RE: History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by W7VO on May 20, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
"Great Article, but I have a question, when did they add the 1X3 calls into the call sign pools?"

See Subsection (e) of the 1913 United States Policy for Radio Call Letters as in the text. I can't tell you exactly when they started using the 3 letter suffix callsigns, but I'm sure it varied by district. There may have been some "exceptions" (guys that knew the right person, and for some reason wanted a 3 letter suffix).

73;
Mike
W7VO
 
RE: History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by K9MHZ on May 21, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Mike, you ought to see about purring that in QST/CQ etc. That's a very fine interest story.
 
RE: History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by K9MHZ on May 21, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
"putting"

Sheesh, my eyes.
 
RE: History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by W7VO on May 21, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I formally submitted the article to the QST Editorial Board earlier this year, but they turned it down without comment (as they do for all articles submitted and rejected), probably for several reasons (these are my own opinions though!):

1. QST gets thousands of articles submitted to them each year, and they can only publish a few of them. I was warned about that when I submitted it.

2. It is 11 typewritten pages long, probably too long for that magazine unless they run it over several months. If you look at a QST you will find that most of the articles are one or two pages.

3. I believe that the league itself is focused on the future of amateur radio, not the past. Sure, they throw in tidbits for us "old-timers" with the vintage equipment pages, but that is not their focus now.

4. There has been one shorter and more condensed QST article about call signs published quite a while ago that I found after I researched and wrote this one.


I thought about sending it in to CQ Magazine after I was turned down by QST, then for some reason I chickened out. I sent it to e-Ham instead a couple of months ago. It's great to get all the feedback from this forum!

73;
Mike
W7VO
 
RE: History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by K9MOV on May 21, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
W7VO, Mike, thank you for your research and sharing this information with us.Excellent article which will be saved and read from time to time. Yes, it should have been in QST.
Thanks, Mike, well done.
Lane-- K9MOV ( KN9MOV, 1958 )
 
History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by KB2DHG on May 21, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
A very nice article. I got a lot out of it Thank you
 
RE: History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by N4KZ on May 21, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
A nice read that very closely matches my own readings on this subject. But one small item to add. WD 2x3 calls were also issued in call areas 2, 4 and 6 -- in addition to the ones mentioned in the piece. Oddly enough, in the 2nd call area, the FCC only issued WD2 2x3 calls with a suffix beginning with A before the big call sign system change was made in 1978. So WD2A-- calls are rare. I worked one of those guys a few years back on 40 meters and he shared that with me. I looked in the callbook and his information was accurate.
 
RE: History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by K8AXW on May 21, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Mike: I too submitted an article that was "too long" and it was published on line.... "QST in Depth" I think it was called.

I suggest you re-submit and suggest they publish it on line because your article represents the most extensive information on call sign assignment that I've ever seen. It should be considered a classic.

As an aside, I now receive my QST by Internet after telling them that their new QST monthly format is terrible and isn't worth taking up space in my shack!

They no longer really care what one thinks.
 
History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by G3YWX on May 21, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Fascinating history. Really enjoyed reading it. It is interesting to see how radio as we know it today including ham radio reached the point where we are now. This obviously includes the callsigns.

I wrote something on UK ham callsigns and this includes the dates when they were first issued: https://www.electronics-notes.com/articles/ham_radio/call-signs/uk-amateur-radio-callsigns.php

In the UK there are different callsign formats according tot he time when they were first issued.
 
RE: History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by KB6QXM on May 21, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Outstanding. I would like to see an addendum or another article on the history of the Amateur radio license classes. Some of that was included in this article, but you have to dig it out from the call sign history.

One of the most well-written article I have seen on eham.

Bravo!
 
History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by K3CXG on May 21, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
The history buff in me likes this! Mad props to you.

Mike K3CXG
 
History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by N1QZ on May 22, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Great history Mike, Thank you.
 
History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by WB4M on May 22, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Great article! Do you know why the FCC went to issuing KA calls after the last WD? Why did they not continue with WE, WF, etc? KA prefixes were once US personnel stationed in Japan.
 
RE: History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by N4KZ on May 22, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
The answer to your question about the new call sign system that began in 1978 was touched upon in this piece. In 1976 and 1977, the FCC was kind of in a patchwork approach to issuing ham call signs. In some call areas, such as 4-land, the commission was re-issuing old available WA and WB 2x3 calls. My own former WB4 2x3 was re-issued to a guy in the Carolinas. About this same time, the FCC was dealing with a scandal involving an employee of the Gettysburg processing center. He was accused of accepting money for giving people preferred call signs. The WC 2x3 block of calls was skipped over for government use in RACES, etc. In other words, there was not a clear strategy for how to issue ham calls in the future. So people at the commission decided to clear the slate and start with a brand new call sign system -- one in which your class of license determined the type of call you were eligible to receive, if you wanted a new one. Because it was always optional. No one was ever forced to change their call because they upgraded to a higher license. Novices and techs were eligible for 2x3 calls beginning with KA. Generals were eligible for 1x3 calls beginning with N. Advanced class could get a 2x2 call beginning with KB and extras qualified for 2x1 calls that ran through the AA-AL, K, N and W prefixes as well as 2x2 calls with the prefixes AA-AL. Someone said KA calls were issued to U.S. military personnel in Japan. True. But those were always just 2x2 calls with the KA prefix. That's why novices and techs could get KA 2x3 calls and advanced class people could get 2x2 calls beginning with KB except in the 1 and zero call areas. There were never any KA1 or KA0 calls issued in Japan so those were available in the states while in call areas 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 all 2x2 calls began with KB. When the 1978 new call system was announced, the FCC said from now on all calls would be issued systematically by computer. Well, that went out the window in 1996 with the implementation of vanity calls. Also in 1978, the old rule about your call always having to designate your call area was discontinued as well as the requirement to always sign mobile or portable when operating away from home. More than you wanted to know!
 
History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by WR5E on May 22, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks for the great article. Interesting too! I was challenged a couple of times after getting my Extra being accused of "using a repeater call". The FCC provided me with "WR5E", so that is what I used then and still do. It was interesting to see about how my old "N5HPF" call getting it when upgrading from Novice to Technician, then able to keep N5HPF when upgrading to Advanced (although not the best call on CW). The drive or "kicker" for getting my Extra was personally projecting that the W5 1x2s as seen in QST's call sign listing each month were going to be running out soon (as seen in early 1985?). And I really wanted a W5 1x2 call sign. So, I got my CW proficiency "up" with some on-the-air contacts to ensure that I could pass the 20WPM CW test, took the Extra, then waited for my new call from the FCC. "WR5E" it was!
 
RE: History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by W1NK on May 22, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
What an outstanding piece of research, Mike!

I would like to point out one overlooked period of callsign assignment that likely occurred during the 1927-1941 period. It was known as the "Oh No, What Have I Done Incident".

Apparently this occurred on or about April 1, but the exact year is unknown, when, a fledgling FCC license typist typed an I instead of a 1. Before the mistake could be corrected, the call WIOU was forever assigned to one Larson E. Rapp of Kippering-on-the-Charles, Massachusetts (just off Route 128). The rest, as they say, is history.

Frank, W1NK ... 3rd caretaker of W1NK, 2003-present
Robert E. Coleman, W1NK 1927-2003
Fred Hunkins, 1NK 1920 (maybe earlier)-1927
 
History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by W0FEN on May 22, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
There is some additional information that is not mentioned.

Even though today we only think of one license. The FCC
until 1978 era considered that there were 2 licenses.
The Operator License and the Station License.

Also due to the above Amateurs were allowed a second
call sign to be issued to a second address. Therefore
Amateurs were allowed to have two callsigns.

I had two callsigns during that period.

Robin Cross
w0fen
 
RE: History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by W7VO on May 22, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Actually, your last statement IS covered, in a discussion related to the new Technician class licenses, verses the Novice/General licenses: "There was also another rule that if an amateur had homes, (such as a “snowbird”), in two different FCC districts, he or she could hold call signs that reflected the numbers of both districts. So, technically, one amateur could potentially hold four amateur call signs simultaneously!"

But, this is a paper on callsigns, not licenses themselves. I do make mention that before WWII they FCC issued operator licenses AND station licenses, and only cancelled the station license during the war. After WWII the station licenses became valid again. I don't think I mentioned when they became just single license, but that is not really related to the topic in hand.

If I added more chapters on the evolution of licenses themselves then this all becomes a short book! ;-)

Thanks for the input!

73;
Mike
W7VO
 
History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by WA1YIH on May 23, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
The one thing I remember about my call sign is that I ordered 200 QSL's with WN1YIH on October 1, 1978 only to find out on October 2nd the calls were going to change!
 
RE: History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by WA1YIH on May 23, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
That should be 1976, not 1978.
 
RE: History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by W7VO on May 23, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
The 1930 Callbook shows W1OU belonging to an Earl Burlingame of Auburn RI. Such an error (issuing an I instead of a 1), must have been later.

Great information. When I get a chance I'll research this further for confirmation.

73;
Mike
W7VO
 
History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by KA3JLW on May 23, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
VERY cool - great stuff!

2 questions:

- The early German Telefunken stations that started with "D" - is that the cause of Germany taking the "D" prefix once the laws were established? Or a happy coincidence?

- Is there a source of which callsigns were 'first' of their kind(s)? For instance, was W1AA the first 1 are callsign assigned? There was some discussion of this in the "DXing on the Edge" book regarding the history of 160 meters...just wondering if there's a list of firsts compiled anywhere.

Very enjoyable, thank you for taking the time! 73, Jay, W3MMM
 
RE: History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by W1NK on May 23, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Larson E. Rapp, WIOU was a prolific ARRL contributing author whose writings (Byron Goodman, W1DX was the man behind the pen) always appeared in the April issues of QST.

Dr. Rapp contributed such circuit designs as the Q5-S9 receiver as well as a VFO so stable it took a while to change frequencies. He also theorized the FCC assign amateur frequencies in concentric circles rather than bands to eliminate out of band operation and band edge congestion.

My apologies if my attempt at humor I created any confusion .... then again, I'm sure WIOU would have wanted it that way

Frank, W1NK
 
RE: History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by W7VO on May 23, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I was not aware of that pseudonym, and now I am at ease! Thanks for the information!

73;
Mike
W7VO
 
RE: History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by W7VO on May 23, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I don't know why Telefunken shipboard stations used a "D" rather than a "T" to begin their callsign, as it is pointed out that Marconi stations used a "M" (Which later became one of the three original UK callsign prefixes, "G", "B", and "M". ("M" and "G" prefixes remain with the UK to this day). The German government itself may have been the ones that mandated that the German stations began their callsigns with a "D" for "Deutschland". Maybe somebody knows this history.

I really don't know the history of Telefunken, but they were certainly a bitter rival of Marconi, just as Microsoft and Apple are bitter rivals today.

73;
Mike
W7VO
 
History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by WA7KPK on May 23, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Mike, this is a most excellent article. Thanks for doing the legwork and putting it all together!!

You mentioned that QST turned you down when you submitted this to them. Might I make a suggestion: Flesh it out a little bit, add in the histories of the classes of license available, drop in pictures of old QSLs and other historical documents (maybe copies of licenses from the past, if anyone has them) and publish it as a book. The cost to self-publish an ebook is negligible, there are options available for doing paper copies on demand, and I think a history of licenses and call signs would rank right up there with "200 Meters And Down" for those of us who are interested in the history of our hobby.

Cheers/73,

-- Creede WA7KPK (ex-WN7KPK and a couple others)
 
RE: History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by W7VO on May 23, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks for the encouragement! As I said earlier, this article was composed from a forty slide PowerPoint presentation that I put together over the last few years. So, I have a lot of historical pictures, documents, graphics, etc. that are part of the PowerPoint, and also incorporated later into a Word document version for publication. I couldn't get the graphics to work with e-Ham, so this is a plain text version of the Word document.

After one of my "live" presentations for a ham club I had somebody come by and he asked me if I could create a YouTube video of the live presentation. That is something else I could do.

As a result of all the positive feedback from this forum I may just expand this out as you suggested.

Thanks again!

73;
Mike
W7VO
 
RE: History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by W1NK on May 23, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Mike-

Also check out W8JYZ's http://oldqslcards.com/

Scroll down to find the link titled "The Early Days". You'll be surprised to see U.S. QSLs with U and NU prefixes!

Frank, W1NK
 
RE: History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by W7VO on May 23, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Yes, that is where several samples of U, nu, nc and other unique prefix QSL card samples came from in my live PowerPoint presentation. Seeing those prompted me to dig into what these cards were all about.

Great website, with a LOT of old history in those cards.

73;
Mike
W7VO
 
History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by AF7ZA on May 24, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Fantastic work Mike. There is a lot of work in researching history on any subject, amateur radio being no different than others. W7XQ will be happy to see him mentioned, and me too. Bill & Mac. Hi! I hope to be seeing you on Youtube soon.
 
History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by W1XYZ on May 24, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Great article. An "X" after the prefix was considered as a reserved call and was issued only to experimental stations until recently. Also there was a particular reserved 2X3 callsign that had never issued. I found this out after a brief discussion/hiccup when I applied for my vanity call.
 
RE: History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by W7VO on May 24, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
You are correct, and all three instances are covered in the text. In addition to what you stated, the "Y" suffix was reserved for educational institutions, and apparently the "Z" was for hams who were also shipboard operators (they were given additional frequencies they could operate). Not available for use to this day are "N" and "A" coded 2X3 suffix coded callsigns, (which is also covered in the text).

Thanks for the feedback!

73;
Mike
W7VO
 
RE: History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by N6KP on May 24, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
It surprises me that QST turned down your excellent article and yet in the May 2017 issue they ran a "company puff" article promoting a very expensive lightning protection system.
I am sure many more amateurs would have rather read your article. Go figure!
 
RE: History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by N6KP on May 24, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
It surprises me that QST turned down your excellent article and yet in the May 2017 issue they ran a "company puff" article promoting a very expensive lightning protection system.
I am sure many more amateurs would have rather read your article. Go figure!
 
History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by KI4ZUQ on May 27, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Outstanding article! Much work went into it! Thank you!
 
RE: History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by W8LV on May 27, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Might the issue of "Z" calls to Mariners have had to do with their "Z-" issued Seaman's Papers?

Just wondered...


73 and All the Best!
DE Bill W8LV


 
History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by WA2ISE on June 2, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
That explains how I got WA2ISE a few years after my father got WB2JIA.
 
History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by W4ZYT on June 4, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
A truly great article! Many thanks!

Okinawa was administered by the US Army between 1945 and 1972 under a United Nations mandate. The chief executive was a US Army major general based in Sukiran (now Zukeran). Call signs were issued under his authority by the local Signal Corps office, with the prefix KR6. Most calls were 1x2, with a few exceptions - In the fifties, KR6USA was the large Army MARS station at Sukiran and KR6USN a Navy MARS operation from Naha. KR6AF was the Air Force MARS and club station at Naha Air Base.
Novices - instead of following the "WR6" convention used elsewhere, were issued KR6Z_ calls, which changed to a standard KR6__ call sign once the novice upgraded. There was some flexibility in the selection of suffixes, depending on availabilty.
In 1960, Okinawan nationals, who previously were not allowed to operate ham stations, were allowed to become hams and were issued "KR8__" callsigns.
Okinawa reverted to Japanese administration on May 15th, 1972. Callsigns for Okinawa are now issued by the Ministry of Communications and Internal Affairs and will bear JA6-JR6 and 7J6 prefixes.

 
History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by KI7DD on June 5, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
That is a great article and really informed me about why callsigns are the way they are. Thank you.
 
History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by K5BM on June 6, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
i was issued kn5zxe in the early 60's. if i had waited a few weeks, old w5 calls were reissued. zxe was a tough phone or high speed cw call. I was an extra class, so k5bm was available and is very rhythmic on cw.
bowel movement is a retort on ssb.

tom, k5bm
 
History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by KB9MWR on June 7, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Here is a link to a collection of digitized call books which may aide those doing callsign research:
https://archive.org/details/callbook
 
History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by K4TIN on June 8, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Interesting. Enjoyed.
 
RE: History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by W7VO on June 8, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks, Steve, for the link to the old Callbooks! I was wondering when somebody would go through the trouble to scan all those thousands of pages in.

73;
Mike
W7VO
 
RE: History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by W7VO on June 8, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks, Don, for the information on the WR6/KR6 callsigns. I will add this to the next edition of my article!

73;
Mike
W7VO
 
RE: History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by W7WQ on June 8, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I'm getting on I guess. I remember so many of the 1x2 ops way back when. I hear their calls now and brings back a lot of memories.....
 
History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by W6COP on June 11, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Mike
W7VO

As a writer I understand the frustration of submitting articles to the journals.

Keep working it will pay off. You did a great historical job on it. Love the humor you mixed in - as a fellow scribe.

There are many bumps in the road while writing on the highway of life.

Best wishes,

Steven Wayne Knight
Part of the Keystone Dinosaur Cops.
 
RE: History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by PU2LXN on June 12, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
"D" of Deutschland = Germany
 
History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by AA7LX on June 16, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Thank You, for all the great and time consuming(I'm sure) Research involved! I hope you are able to put all of this Research into book form and send 2 copies to the Library of Congress(Yes, that can be done with any publication)-- so as, not to have it lost to the future! '73. George-- AA7LX(2nd holder- first holder Silent Key).
 
RE: History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by SM0AOM on June 18, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Actually the official treaty list of callsign prefixes did not come into being until 1927, after the Washington conference. A non-binding list was compiled at the 1912 London conference, but did not make it into the convention itself

The system between 1912 and 1927 worked on precedent, as the practices used by the major players was to use three-letter coast station calls, and the four-letter ship identifiers that were in use internationally even before radio.

Ar the 1927 conference this was brought up for several reasons, one was the rise of international civil aviation, and another was the increasing use of HF, where unambiguous callsigns became a critical aspect.

Aviation identifiers and radio callsigns became patterned after each other.

Amateur radio did not have any international legal status until 1927, and the forms of any pre-existing amateur callsigns became accordingly adjusted to the new international practice set out in the 1927 Regulations.

Regarding the role of the Telefunken company, it first came into being as a counter-action to the monopoly that Marconi was trying to implement.

Telefunken was founded by three major German players, AEG. Siemens and the Imperial German government. The intention was to pool all German radio inventions, patents and development talents into a single company, large enough to successfully compete with the Marconi company.

Telefunken attracted several talented engineers and scientists, such as Braun, von Arco,Slaby, Rendahl, Beggerow and Bredow. The practical crystal detector and the quenched gap spark transmitter ("Tönende Löschfunken") were among the Telefunken milestones.

Coupled to the very advanced radio and electronics research at the major German universities, with names such as Zenneck, Sommerfeld, Barkhausen, Meissner and Esau also gave Telefunken a scientific edge.

Telefunken made many important improvements to the radio art, and was pioneering several new aspects of radio communications. UHF and microwaves were early adopted by the company, as well as electronic television.

73/
Karl-Arne
SM0AOM
 
RE: History of the Ham Radio Callsign Reply
by W7VO on June 18, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks for the updated information, Karl!

73;
Mike
W7VO
 
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