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Author Topic: When did double dash = get officially introduced?  (Read 1394 times)
KB1OOO
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« on: March 09, 2010, 05:37:07 AM »

Looking for a reference of when = was officially accepted (I guess that would be by the ITU-R) as the symbol for -...- ?

Thanks,
kb1ooo
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AE4RV
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« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2010, 07:09:53 AM »

I *think* it was started by CW keyboards (and some CW readers) because there is no BR prosign on the keyboard.

But I did not research that - might be wrong.
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N3QE
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« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2010, 07:32:23 AM »

I will note that the prosigns used in RTTY are never written with punctuations but with characters.

e.g. K, SK, KN.

My gut feeling is that those prosigns have something to do with morse keyboards etc. and while I've seen those come and go over the years the earliest ones simply had buttons with custom keycaps labeled BT, SK, KN etc. Only later did they start using ASCII keyboards.

I don't think that Wikipedia is helping any by talking about BT as being "often written as =" because I don't think that's true. I think some particular morse keyboard users do that though but they're only a tiny tiny subset of Morse users.
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W5ESE
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« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2010, 08:52:56 AM »

Looking for a reference of when = was officially accepted (I guess that would be by the ITU-R) as the symbol for -...- ?

Thanks,
kb1ooo

I think it may be older than that.

The Deutsch-Oesterreichischen Telegraphenverein was a Union of German and
Austrian telegraphers, that formed in 1850. They met in convention in 1854, where
they adopted a convention on numbers, punctuation, and operating signals.

The resulting code was published in the US by T. P. Shaffner, in 'The Telegraph
Manual', published in 1859.

The code is described in chapter 34, which you can download and read here:

http://www.unitedstatesmilitarytelegraph.org/files/telegraphmanual/ChapterThirtyFour.pdf

The 'Austro-Germanic Morse Alphabet' is on page 4 of the pdf.

Notice that one 'dit' was been dropped from the code for '=' at some point.

It started out as

dadididididah

73
Scott W5ESE



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K9MRD
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« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2010, 11:30:42 AM »

I have been a CW operator since 1957. BT was in common use when I started as it is today. Sooo it dates long before keyboards!

Wayne
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K2PHD
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« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2010, 09:54:53 AM »

It has to be pre-1960 because I used as a USCG radio operator in 1962 and I would suggest pre-WWII.

K2PHD (Doc)
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KB1OOO
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« Reply #6 on: March 11, 2010, 08:19:33 AM »

Thanks all.

73,
Marc
kb1ooo
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K9AIM
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« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2010, 01:05:13 PM »

isn't BT an informal (technically incorrect) way of referring to dahdidididah? i got the impression it is like a comma and not a combination of two letters...
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N2EY
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« Reply #8 on: March 21, 2010, 04:45:11 PM »

The 1934 ARRL Handbook lists it as "break (double dash)". In ham use it has been used instead of a period as a separator between sentences. So in Amateur Radio it goes back a long time.

The 1934 and 1941 ARRL Handbooks in PDF are available free for the download from Pete Millett's wonderful site. Many other good books there too.

73 de Jim, N2EY
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W7ETA
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« Reply #9 on: March 22, 2010, 01:42:45 AM »

It is a double dash, commonly referred to BT.  You could use another combo of letters, but nobody would recognize it.

73
Bob
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K9AIM
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« Reply #10 on: March 22, 2010, 05:17:57 AM »

thanks for the response.  So it is arbitrary, but now has inertia whether i like it or not HiHi.
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AA4PB
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« Reply #11 on: March 22, 2010, 05:40:04 AM »

I think that -...- has been around since the early days and has a double meaning, depending on the context in which it is used. One is "BT" which is a thought separator and likely the most common use in amateur radio. The other is the double-dash or "=" sign.

While it is true that on a standard keyboard the "=" key is used to send -...-, most probably this was selected because of the original double-dash usage. It would seem likely that "=" was used in very early message traffic.
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K9AIM
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« Reply #12 on: March 22, 2010, 06:29:05 AM »

> I think that -...- has been around since the early days and has a double meaning, depending on the context in which it is used. One is "BT" which is a thought separator and likely the most common use in amateur radio. The other is the double-dash or "=" sign. <

a double dash (--) *is* a separator -- is it not?

page 11 of the 1936 Radio Amateur's Handbook lists -...- as: "BREAK (double dash)"

for free pdf download, see Pete Millett's site: www.pmillett.com -- specificly:  

http://www.tubebooks.org/technical_books_online.htm

(Thanks to N2EY for the link)
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AA4PB
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« Reply #13 on: March 22, 2010, 09:20:14 AM »

I don't know. Is a double-dash [--] or is it [=]? Several Internet references I've seen would lead you to believe that double-dash is an equal sign [=], part of the Morse punctuation list, while BT is a pause separator, part of the prosign list.

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WX7G
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« Reply #14 on: March 22, 2010, 09:59:22 AM »

I copy down BT as a single dash - although I thought is is a double dash like so: --
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