HAM Radio 101

Word of the Day (73!): What Does 73 Mean?

When a Ham concludes a transmission or meet-and-greet by saying “73,” he or she is honoring a tradition that goes back to the early days of telegraph communications. Western Union standardized a time-saving system of numbers from 1-92, assigning a different meaning to each. 73 meant “best regards” and 88 ended a correspondence with “hugs and kisses.” These numbers were incorporated into the Phillips Code (first published in 1879)—a system of abbreviations (SCOTUS and POTUS, for example) designed to truncate messages sent through old land telegraph systems. You can thank its creator, Walter P. Phillips, who devised the code to expedite transmission of news stories while he was a scribe for the Associated Press. To this day, 30 is still used to signal the end of a news story. And 73 is how we Hams wish each other well.

For those who operate old-school, you’ll find all your CW needs (another Ham word we’ll explore) taken care of at DX Engineering.com.

Editor’s Note: Amateur Radio has its own lingo, so we’re covering that unique terminology in our daily Word of the Day column for novice HAM radio enthusiasts.

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