33, 73, CQ and More

Those of you who listen to our YL Net

which meets every Monday Night at 8 PM EST on the Chattanoga 444.100 repeater + offset and NO tone and on AllStar Node 46331 and on EchoLink Node 68581

have heard us sign off with 33 instead of the usual 73 that Hams commonly use.

So the question often asked is : “Why do YLs use the term 33?”

Well, a poem posted on another YL website (The YLRL website) explains.

You can click on the link above to read it on that website —

or you can read it here:

The Birth of 33


Clara had her ticket

She also had a rig

Because she was just startin

It wasn’t very big

She slowly tuned the crystal,

And watched the meter drop.

Then tapped the key a couple times

To be sure it wouldn’t stop.

Now everything was ready,

She called a short CQ

And received an answer

On thirty-six sixty -two.

They chewed the fat “bout stuff and things.

“bout dresses, work and dates.

They finally called it QRT

the girl sent eighty-eights.

Clara though it might be funny

Whether it be Miss or Mrs.

To end a perfect QSO

by sending “Love and Kisses”

It sounds too sentimental;

Just a little too much “goo”

To be sending “Love and Kisses”

to a girl the same as you.

For an entire week she pondered;

Wouldn’t even touch the rig.

She pushed her slide rule by the hour,

Employing “logs” and “trig”

She added and subtracted.

What could the answer be?

To reach a happy medium

Twixt eighty-eight and seventy-three.

Clara finally looked up from her work

All smiles and not forlorn.

Twas July in Nineteen Forty

that thirty-three was born.

There’s no real definition

Bit it’s meaning is known well.

It’s how a YL says good evening

To another friend YL.

Author Unknown.

Great — Now you know about the Origins of 33 !!!

But what about the Origins of 73… Wellllll —

First the definition of 73 is “good day” or “good luck”. It also means “sincerely” or “Regards” such as one would use in ending a letter.

So — way back when – telegraph operators used the 73 to end conversations with those meanings instead of typing them out in morse code.

According to the article on Page 78 of the November 2017 QST Magazine —

“The Numerical Code 73 also predates radio and was a part of theWestern Union “92 Code” which was established in 1859 as a way to improve telegraphic throughput by allowing the use of two-digit codes in place of common phrases.

The code started with 01 (wait a minute)

and ended with 92 (deliver promptly)

In addition to 73 (best regards)

and 88 (love and kisses)

was 30 (no more / the end) which is still in use by journalists at the end of articles.

Other companies — especially railroads, often had their own version of the code including company specific terms”

but 73 originated as part of the Western Union 92 code established in 1859 to help speed things up with Telegraph Messages.

And while we are on the subject of ORIGINS of terms —

What about the Origins of CQ

The definition of CQ is “calling any station”. and It is an invitation for any operators listening on that frequency to respond.

but how did this definition come about? you ask

well — this information — was also basically gleaned from page 76 of the November 2017 QST magazine — and from Wikipedia

The question posed to Joe Hallas in his column “The Doctor is in” in that QST Magazine was:

“What are the meanings or origins of CQ and 73. Is CQ any kind of abbreviation? And Why 73 versus any other number. I know they originated during the age of telegraphy, but how did thees commonly used terms come about? “

So that was the question.

Now here is the answer from Joe Hallas —- (not the entire answer by Joe Hallas– but the key parts)

“… The CQ call was originally used by landline telegraph operators in the United Kingdom

French was and still is the official language of international postal services (and until recently the postal services of most European countries were also responsible for telecommunications)

and the french word SECURITIE was used to mean “safety” or “pay attention”.

It is still used in this sense in international telecommunications.

The letters CQ when pronounced in French — resemble the first two syllables of SECURITE. and were therefore used as shorthand for the word.

It also sounds like the French “c ’est qui” which in English means “who’s there”

In English speaking countries, the origin of the abbreviation was popularly changed to the phrase “SEEK YOU”

and now you know the story about CQ

And regarding QST

since we have been mentioning QST a lot —

in addition to its special meaning which is

“Calling All Amateur Radio Operators”

QST is also the name of the Magazine that ARRL publishes monthly — and to which you should be subscribing.

We will likely add more information about Origins of the meanings of other terms used in Ham Radio in the future — so check back from time to time for more updates.

But for now — you know the Origins of 33, 73, CQ, and QST. Yayyyy.