Wireless question

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Tracy Smith

Nov 5, 2000
South Carolina USA
Can anyone tell me how the ship ID letters were devised for wireless transmission: MGY, MWL, MKC, and the like. Was this done by the Marconi company or by the shipping lines themselves? They were obviously not completely random, as I suspect the "M" indicated that the ship was of British registry. Correct me if I'm wrong.

How long was this system in use? Any info would be appreciated.
Mar 3, 1998

Both ship and land stations were assigned call letters by the Bureau International de L'Union Telegraphique of Berne, which had jurisdiction over the various nations who were parties to the International Radiotelegraphic Convention of 1903. The various countries were alloted exclusive use of letters within a specified range. For instance, Great Britain was alloted all combinations commencing with B, G and M. Some of this was traditional...in my example, the reason why British ships retained the letter M was because of its legacy use by Marconi stations.

I would have to do some more digging to answer your question on when this system was superceded...most of the wireless-related books in my library were published before 1920.

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