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 Origin of the division prefix numbers (countries)?

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Sydthecat
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PostSubject: Origin of the division prefix numbers (countries)?   Origin of the division prefix numbers (countries)? Icon_minitimeSat Jul 15, 2023 9:26 pm

I have been a bit quiet here recently. Now here's something I've been asking myself and other people for years.
I was wondering about the origin of the numbers and why they were given to the countries in this order. When I started my "radio career" in 1983, the division numbers were not yet in use, if I remember correctly. It seems to me that before the division numbers came in, people would make a CQ-call like "this is station Lima Bravo from Germany/Norway/Ireland etc.".

From my memory, the division numbers appeared somewhere around 1985 or 86. Is that correct? Was it the Alfa Tango group who invented, or shall we say 'determined' the numbers? What is the logic behind this, like why is England 26 and Scotland 108, for instance? Or why is Italy 1 and USA 2? Looking forward to some stories and information, especially from the old-timers amongst you.

73s Zintus

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PostSubject: Re: Origin of the division prefix numbers (countries)?   Origin of the division prefix numbers (countries)? Icon_minitimeSat Jul 15, 2023 9:49 pm

Hi Zintus 

Great post and some wonderful questions raised , your correct AT implemented the divisional prefixes as we know today , am fairly sure the AT group was formed in 1978 and the HQ was in Asti Italy , founder member was Aldo 1AT001 who sadly is no longer with us , not sure of the reasoning behind the order of the prefix numbers but would think Italy would be number one because that’s the origins of AT 
i will certainly ask the question and get some more details 


Craig 26AT126

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Victor
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PostSubject: Re: Origin of the division prefix numbers (countries)?   Origin of the division prefix numbers (countries)? Icon_minitimeSun Jul 16, 2023 7:41 am

Hi Zintus,

I used CB radio haphazardly until I joined a club back in I believe '83 also which was just a group of people with a keen radio interest but appeared to have some organisation about it. The group was known as the "Foxtrot Papa's" and I think that was due to the 'founder' whose name was Fred, I believe his surname was Perry hence the 'FP'. We were known as the 'Friendly People' which seemed more befitting to the call sign letters.

I've just had a dig about my shack and sure enough found my old QSL cards, I was 'FP-065' obviously being the 65th member to join the club. My International cards only state 'England' and I do recall DX contact often having each party identify their country of transmission rather than a country 'prefix' but I also recall sending off for a printed list of country codes....what came back was printed as the "G.R.I. Alfa Tango" DX group.

These were in the heady days before the internet and also a different map of Europe!
'West' Germany was prefix 13 and the former 'East' Germany was 46. Division 179 was a bit difficult to spell being Czechoslovakia. (Can't believe I remember to spell that!)

Anyway, that was a bit of my CB 'history' but I know that after an initial flurry of UK27/81 members my old club died off with only the SSB users staying steadfast. I think some arguments also arose after members who utilised the P.O. Box often didn't pay their 'dues' or 'subs' (subscription charges) and it all fizzled out unfortunately.



As for the prefix numbers and how they came about I can only think of the obvious haphazard way we human beings organise things on-the-fly.

As Craig rightly points out Aldo 1AT001 was the founder of the Alfa Tango group and I'm sure they would have allocated lots of 1's to fellow Italian radio enthusiasts but under their quite strict 'rules'. The USA was another big CB using country and pretty sure that when a state-side member came along they were added to the list as the next number along and hence '2'.

If you take a look at the country CB prefix list on the following link provided you can see the apparent haphazard way countries were allocated jumping back and forth between the Americas & Europe on early numbers :-

https://ukspec.tripod.com/rf/cb/divs.html

(Scroll down the list to find a few maps showing prefixes.)

I can only presume that as members joined from different countries their country of origin was just added along to the list sequentially. (Reshuffles, old numbers and new would have been down to the organisers at the Alfa Tango group.)


Seeing as it a wholly accepted system and no one came along with anything better it's used quite widely in the CB fraternity. Sure, someone could have come up with another system but confusion would've arisen if another country wanted to decide that they were number "1" also!

We utilise the same numerical system for call signs having international membership here at Charlie Tango but without the strict membership rules. Other founding or older members here would be better able than I to give a brief history of this group seeing as I'm a more recent member. I'm just glad to be part of it and doing my very best to keeping things running. Origin of the division prefix numbers (countries)? 1f44d 


I do recall mention amongst the postings here on this forum of the 'Charlie Tango' group of Germany, but this must have been another club that faded away in history like so many others. There's also only so many letters in the alphabet and 'repeats' of letter combinations must have happened several times across the long history of CB radio.

I also find it funny when some exclaim that they hear a 'Charlie Tango' member utilising the Amateur Radio frequencies forgetting or not knowing that 'CT' is also the IARU (International Amateur Radio Union) prefix for Radio Amateurs in Portugal. Wink



Anyway, never needing an excuse to 'waffle' or wear out my old typing fingers I hope the above makes some sense to you and maybe others.

Anyone else recall their early CB days, DX contacts and prefix numbers? 

(I'm pretty sure that I'm not the only one who hasn't lost all their marbles yet to recount some early history!)


All the best,
Victor

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PostSubject: Re: Origin of the division prefix numbers (countries)?   Origin of the division prefix numbers (countries)? Icon_minitimeSun Jul 16, 2023 9:11 am

Great question Zintus. If anyone is able to find out I am sure it will be Craig or other members here that are still AT members also.

I don't know the answer, but would be interested to learn the real one. If you scout the net you'll find the question has been asked many times for many years, but no definitive answer. There's even some wacky, but possibly true theories that have been Chinese whispered around over the years that the numbering originated from Italian mafia dealings.

I've checked a few of my old QSL cards and they show that in '88 some of the ones I've received don't have division numbers on and they just written IK25, my call at the time, on them. But by '92/'93 almost all the ITL QSLs have division numbers on. I can't find any ITL ones from before '88. Your theory of them starting around the mid '80s sounds plausible.

Victor getting me slightly reminiscing.. the clubs back in the '80s had a different feel back then compared to now with no real internet. Our local IK group, like am sure many others were, were not about DXing primarily although we did and had a club PO box, but more about getting families together. We had a monthly meet in a pub function room and had bus days out to places like theme parks. Even had a CB Radio themed float in our local carnival one year.

Back OT, would love to know if others know / remember the prefix origins or if Craig manages to dig out an answer from the ATs.

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PostSubject: Re: Origin of the division prefix numbers (countries)?   Origin of the division prefix numbers (countries)? Icon_minitimeSun Jul 16, 2023 9:55 am

I do remember some of the clubs back then being a bit more of a 'social club' thing Neal but I know the FP's concentrated mostly with the radio interest. (No pub, no events, etc. just like minded individuals getting together in a hall.)

I too have heard all sorts of 'theories' about the country prefixes but still think "next-on-the-list" better explains it all.

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PostSubject: Re: Origin of the division prefix numbers (countries)?   Origin of the division prefix numbers (countries)? Icon_minitimeSun Jul 16, 2023 9:59 pm

Well I’ve asked a few questions with one or two original members of AT also know as the Old Guard , the letters AT originated from the local car number plate identifier of Asti Italy 
as for the pre fix numbering system it is thought it’s the the order of country’s worked from Spring of that year 1978.which were all from the americas  The next lump of divisions are European which signifies the onset of Eskip conditions.. By this time I would imagine that the interest in joining this growing group was very high. The original founders must have been astounded at the response from the 11m community and planned ahead by enlarging the prefix  list to include all known entities, probably taking some notes from the Ham community.
Other clubs/groups had their own version of a prefix list. Not all were the same but over time it must have been realised that for the prefix lists to function correctly, they should all be the same.  I think we are there now.
One thing is for sure. Alfa Tango without a doubt laid the foundations and continually built on them to shape the Community and the band into a usable and pretty friendly place to function.


Craig

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PostSubject: Re: Origin of the division prefix numbers (countries)?   Origin of the division prefix numbers (countries)? Icon_minitimeSun Jul 16, 2023 10:12 pm

Excellent stuff there Craig and thanks for your investigations into this. Origin of the division prefix numbers (countries)? 1f44d 

I hadn't realised the 'AT' was the local number plate and is a nice snippet of historical interest to know.

Have to agree with you that the work of the Alfa Tango group has played a great significance in the history of CB radio and deservedly retains a place in the hall-of-fame by many following their same prefix system and club mentality. I'll bet it was all really unexpectedly so and old Aldo must be smiling down upon us and the Alfa Tango group is suitably proud.

I knew I couldn't have been too far wrong with my next-on-the-list theory than some of the 'weirder' suggestions behind it that abound the internet.


Great stuff Craig and thanks again.

All the best,
Victor

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PostSubject: Re: Origin of the division prefix numbers (countries)?   Origin of the division prefix numbers (countries)? Icon_minitimeSun Jul 16, 2023 10:34 pm

Good stuff, Craig and very interesting.👍

11m will always be the home of radio for me and I continue to enjoy it, even after all these years.👍

73s John.

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PostSubject: Re: Origin of the division prefix numbers (countries)?   Origin of the division prefix numbers (countries)? Icon_minitimeMon Jul 17, 2023 8:13 am

Thought I'd add to this thread, the AT division numbers are not used by all DX groups as some pre date them by many years.
The Jolly Roger DX Group formed in 1980 in Cheltenham being one. In 1981 when the group became the International Jolly Roger DX Group (membership gone beyond the UK), it was decided to use the prefixes already in use by the International Sandbaggers DX Group and the Papa Whiskey DX Group, at the time the two biggest DX groups in the US.
The US stations all have their own state prefix (the order they joined the Union) and then like the AT division numbers countries were added by the order they were worked.
The only exception to the above is that all UK Jolly Roger stations have no prefix, as an active Jolly Roger call sign holder it makes for interesting contacts as I'm always asked for my full call and then have to explain our history. 
73 to all 26CT3239, Jolly Roger 272.

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PostSubject: Re: Origin of the division prefix numbers (countries)?   Origin of the division prefix numbers (countries)? Icon_minitimeSun Jul 23, 2023 9:02 pm

Thank you all for your great answers and comments. I'm very pleased to receive so much valuable input to my post.

Indeed, a few of my own theories have been confirmed here, especially about the order of the division numbers/countries. In my imagination there was the founder, Aldo, who sat there working one country after the other and writing them down, adding numbers on a piece of paper. Only I couldn't understand why the US and Brazil would have been reached before any European country. But the explanation about the propagation at the time does make sense.

An old-timer here in the North-Western corner of Germany, who was very active during those years told me stories about making QSOs with the US from his car being parked in a gravel pit, about 3 or 4 meters below ground level. The radio he used was a Universe 5500, the QSOs took place on the regular 40 channels. The sunspot maximum during those years must have been massive, according to what I heard from several people who were active at the time. Even though I was already playing and experimenting with a Handic handheld (that orange-coloured one), I was still too young for a proper SSB rig and DX, being only 11 years old in 1978.

The explanation does make sense indeed. The band wide open (F2) during autumn/winter 1978, Aldo scribbling down the North- and South-American countries he'd worked and then, the following spring filling the list with European countries worked via E-sporadic. This is also the explanation for the "higher" three-digit numbers of Eastern-European countries which were, of course, still under the Communist regime, so the first QSOs with those places must have taken place a lot later. My first QSO with Poland was in 1986 on one of the so-called gap or alpha-channels (11A = 27.095) in AM. I still have the QSL card.

It all makes sense. Thanks a lot, all of you. Greatly appreciated.

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PostSubject: Re: Origin of the division prefix numbers (countries)?   Origin of the division prefix numbers (countries)? Icon_minitimeMon Jul 24, 2023 5:58 am

This was a great posting Zintus with an excellent questioned asked so thank you. Origin of the division prefix numbers (countries)? 1f44d 

It was also a pleasure to hear a little about your radio history too and I couldn't help myself with some little memory joggers at the mention of vintage radios :-

Universe 5500 :-

https://www.rigpix.com/cbfreeband/universe_5500.htm


Handic 21 :-

https://www.rigpix.com/cbfreeband/handic_21.htm


Thanks again for posting and thanks to all that responded.

All the best,
Victor
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