Ham Radio History (4)
From Daryl Stout
@618:250/33 to All
on Sat Sep 19 00:06:26 2020
The Amateur Message Form
The amateur message form comes to us from a long tradition. The earliest telegrams were very formal, in the florid style of the last half of the
19th century. Even the train orders of that time began with Dear Sir, and
ended with yours truly. However, since telegraph companies charged by the
word, the text soon changed to the present style.
The preamble, however, has changed greatly. At first, the date and the
number of words were the only two items listed in this country. The
European telegram included the time and the office call, but it was not
until after the Civil War that Americans began using these as well. The
main reason for using the group count was to be able to calculate charges
for the messages, as well as to insure accuracy. Western Union still
prints on its message form certain requirements for making sure that the message is transmitted accurately: that there is no guarantee for the
accuracy of the message unless it is requested that the receiving operator repeat it as a check. There is still an extra charge for this service.
This provision was printed on the earliest Western Union blanks as well
as those of the Electric Telegraph Company in England, but the idea is
far earlier than either of these. It was used by the French semaphore
system before the wire telegraph.
The amateur preamble, of course, is derived from the early wireless forms.
The printed Marconigram blanks have much the same information which is
required for the heading of amateur messages, including the service
information at the bottom of the blanks.
Those ARL numbered texts have an interesting and even longer history. In
1844 Alfred Vail was concerned about preserving the secrecy of the message,
and therefore prepared a series of numbered messages which could be
selected for use by the public. Numbered texts are no longer used for
secrecy, they facilitate the rapid transmission of messages.
Two of our most commonly used service abbreviations --ASAP and GBA-- date
back to the 1840s when the early press telegraphers cut everything to the
most abbreviated form in order to bypass the exceedingly high rates
imposed by the telegraph companies.
The International Code
Although Samuel F. B. Morse's code achieved nearly universal use on the landline telegraph systems of America, the Europeans never did like it.
They felt that the "space" characters were likely to cause errors in
receiving. (The letter "O," for example, was sent "dit dit" and the "I"
was sent as in the now familiar International Code: "didit.") The
Europeans developed a number of binary dot-dash codes to suit their own
needs. The code in use on the wires of the Prussian Empire in 1852 bore
a strong resemblance to the present International Code, but it used the American Morse numerals. Seven years later the "European Code" was
formulated, using the Austro-Prussian alphabet, and adapting the numerals
we now use. This was adopted for use by all European countries, and the
name was changed in 1912 to "International Code," although it is also
known, even today, as the "Continental Code."
The numerals themselves are interesting. No known code of the European continent shows anything which resembles them. They just showed up in
the European Code. However, the Bain Code, used on many lines in the
U.S. circa 1846, had numerals which closely match those of the
International Code. From one through five, Bain and International are identical. Reversing the Bain Code numerals six through zero produces
the International numerals. There is nothing to prove that the Bain Code
was the basis for the International numerals, but the conclusion is
almost inescapable that someone at the Vienna conference at which
International was adopted, was familiar with Bain's numerals. Bain's code
was a modification of the Davy code of 1839, so it is possible that the numerals we now use are older than any of the alphabets.
--- SBBSecho 3.11-Win32
* Origin: The Thunderbolt BBS - tbolt.synchro.net (618:250/33)