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Author Topic: When did US callsigns with "X" suffixes start being assigned?  (Read 4656 times)
W9XC
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Posts: 19




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« on: December 19, 2012, 12:12:47 PM »

I was looking through some old Callbooks to see if I could find earlier assignees of my call, "W9XC", from before 1997 (which is the earliest historical data in the FCC online database for this call). The 1976 US Callbook has no callsigns of the form "W9X<anything>" or "K9X<anything>" - no callsigns with suffixes that start with the letter "X". Call suffixes just jump from "W" to "Y". Similarly, going back into the 1960s.

The 1981 Callbook does have such "X" suffix callsigns - for example "W9XA" is in for 1981. So I'm wondering if anyone knows anything about the circumstances surrounding the transition to allowing such "X" callsigns, which obviously must have happened somewhere in the period from 1976 to 1981.

I hope this is the right forum. Feel free to post or email me directly (my callsign at arrl.net would work).

Thanks,

 - Les, W9XC
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K0OD
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Posts: 2558




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« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2012, 12:30:55 PM »

I think the tradition of using X call signs goes back to the earliest days. Some just marked eXperimental stations that weren't ham related... such as early experimental TV stations... pre-war and just afterward.

Recently I was researching the earliest AM broadcasters from 1921 and before. I believe some of them used X calls. That was before prefixes were added to ham calls in the mid-20s.

It's an interesting subject.   
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K0OD
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Posts: 2558




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« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2012, 12:46:50 PM »

Here ya go:

Plenty of the pre-KDKA AM broadcasters received X experimental calls that closely followed the amateur call format of the time with the number derived from the closest radio office district from which we get our present call areas (zero was carved out of 9 around 1950).   
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_oldest_radio_stations

Now notice prewar TV stations such as W2XB, W1XAY, W3XK. (and VE9EC in Canada).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prewar_television_stations

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W9XC
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Posts: 19




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« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2012, 02:37:20 PM »

Thanks Jeff.

I posted this also over on QRZ and got some interesting replies; this all led me to interesting stuff including some history of the experimental "X" callsigns (which practice seems to date from around 1914) and to solving a curiosity about W9XC. I'm going to write up what I've found and post it on my website.

Here's the curiosity: A couple of years ago I also had searched for "W9XC". One site (and one only) that popped up had a W9XC in Iowa at 1040 Kc on a list of AM stations:

  "U. S. AM Stations as of 1942"
   http://jeff560.tripod.com/1942am.html

I thought it must have been a typo, "WPXC" or something. Today, I found the Radio Annual lists of all BC stations over many years:

http://www.americanradiohistory.com/Radio_Annual_Master_Page.htm
http://www.americanradiohistory.com/Archive-Radio-Annual/1939/Radio-FM-RA-1939.pdf

Lo-and-behold, W9XC is there, in Mitchelville IA, in the sections on "Experimental" or "Developmental" stations, in each list from 1939-1942. So, no typo, but a bona-fide experimental station. BTW There are other very "ham-looking" calls in those RA lists too.

According to K9STH over on QRZ it appears that in the late 1970s the FCC opened up two letter calls for request, and at that point included the X calls for ordinary ham callsigns as well. This jives with the Callbooks I have, but I still don't know the year that this happened.

Anyhow, nice to know some more history of my own call, and others may find the X-calls history interesting too.

- Les, W9XC

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K0OD
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Posts: 2558




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« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2012, 03:35:28 PM »

The FCC opened expired one by two calls to Extra class hams around 1975. I got mine in 1977 the old fashioned way... by copying 20 wpm SOLID for a minute and by knowing everything about electronics Smiley .
 
You can find a lot about that interesting period online, including on Eham. Prior to then, one by two hams were rare and mostly elderly. They didn't often have Extra Class licenses; many predated the creation of the Extra. One by two K-calls only existed in a few districts before 1975 and were very rare. The use of the N-block by hams was brand new then.

Your W9X call has an illustrious pedigree. W9XAA and W9XAP were ca. 1930 Chicago experimental TV stations, forerunners of WCFL and WMAQ.

http://www.earlytelevision.org/w9xap.html
http://www.earlytelevision.org/w9xaa.html
  
« Last Edit: December 19, 2012, 03:37:46 PM by K0OD » Logged
W4XK
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Posts: 60




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« Reply #5 on: December 19, 2012, 04:43:49 PM »

The FCC opened up the X suffixes at the same time they started the N prefixes and the KA, KB, etc. prefixes for
U.S. stations. January, 1977. Don't recall the exact date, but I applied at that time, and mine was issued 01/27/77.
Hope this narrows it a bit for you.

As others have said, the X's were used to identify experimental stations and I have run across references to calls
like W#XA  or such back to the early days of licensing. The regular issue of X's in the amateur service....1977.

Bill,  W4XK
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K6XR
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Posts: 63




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« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2013, 11:26:56 AM »

my call k6xr was issued when I passed the extra exam. that would be prior to 1970 to the best of my knowledge, and way earlier than 1977. It would have been when the FCC did a restructure of the licenses. I did not apply for it, it was just issued and I was not happy with it at the time!
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W3HF
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Posts: 694


WWW

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« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2013, 01:49:00 PM »

my call k6xr was issued when I passed the extra exam. that would be prior to 1970 to the best of my knowledge, and way earlier than 1977. It would have been when the FCC did a restructure of the licenses. I did not apply for it, it was just issued and I was not happy with it at the time!


K6XR -

With all due respect, no sir, that is not correct. K6XR is not listed in any callbook up to and including Spring 1977. Summer 1977 first lists you as K6XR, consistent with the timeline of availability posted above.

If I knew your predecessor callsign, I could check your listing in the earlier books.

Steve
W3HF
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