FYI January 07, 2018

On This Day

1904 – The distress signal “CQD” is established only to be replaced two years later by “SOS”.
CQD (transmitted in Morse code as ▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄) is one of the first distress signals adopted for radio use. It was announced on 7 January 1904, by “Circular 57” of the Marconi International Marine Communication Company, and became effective, beginning 1 February 1904 for Marconi installations.

Land telegraphs had traditionally used “CQ” (“sécu”, from the French word sécurité)[1] to identify alert or precautionary messages of interest to all stations along a telegraph line, and CQ had also been adopted as a “general call” for maritime radio use. However, in landline usage there was no general emergency signal, so the Marconi company added a “D” (“distress”) to CQ in order to create its distress call. Sending “D” was already used internationally to indicate an urgent message. Thus, “CQD” is understood by wireless operators to mean, “All stations: distress.” Contrary to popular belief, CQD does not stand for “Come Quick, Danger”, “Come Quickly: Distress”, “Come Quick—Drowning!”, or “C Q Danger” (Seek You, Danger); these are backronyms.[2]

Although used worldwide by Marconi operators, CQD was never adopted as an international standard, since it could be mistaken for a general call “CQ” if the reception were poor.[citation needed] At the second International Radiotelegraphic Convention, held in Berlin in 1906, Germany’s Notzeichen distress signal of three-dots/three-dashes/three-dots (▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄) was adopted as the international Morse code distress signal. (This distress signal soon became known as “SOS” because it can be thought of as the Morse codes for those letters if run together without an intervening gap – by contrast CQD is transmitted as 3 distinct letters with a short gap between each. Germany had first adopted this distress signal in regulations effective 1 April 1905.)[citation needed]

Between 1899 and 1908, nine documented rescues were made by the use of wireless. The earliest of these was a distress call from the East Goodwin lightship. However, for the earliest of these, there was no standardized distress signal. The first US ship to send a wireless distress call in 1905 simply sent HELP (in both International Morse and American Morse).[2] By February 1904, the Marconi Wireless Company required all of its operators to use CQD for a ship in distress or for requiring URGENT assistance.[citation needed] In the early morning of 23 January 1909, whilst sailing into New York from Liverpool, RMS Republic collided with the Italian liner SS Florida in fog off the island of Nantucket, Massachusetts, United States. Radio Operator Jack Binns[3] sent the CQD distress signal by wireless transmission.

In April 1912, RMS Titanic radio operator Jack Phillips initially sent “CQD”, which was still commonly used by British ships. Harold Bride, the junior radio operator, suggested using “SOS”, saying half-jokingly that it might be his last chance to use the new code. Phillips thereafter began to alternate between the two.[4] Though Bride would survive the sinking, Phillips, in fact, would not.

Born On This Day

1685 – Jonas Alströmer, Swedish agronomist and businessman (d. 1761)
Jonas Alströmer (7 January 1685 – 2 June 1761) was a pioneer of agriculture and industry in Sweden.

Born Jonas Toresson (later changed to Alström) in the town of Alingsås in Västergötland, in 1707 he became a clerk for Stockholm merchant Alberg in London. Alberg’s business failed after about three years, but Alström became a shipbroker on his own, and did very well.

Eventually he desired to establish industry back home, and in 1724 established a woolen factory in his native village, which became profitable after some initial difficulties. He then established a sugar refinery in Gothenburg, encouraged improvements in potato cultivation, tanning, cutlery, and shipbuilding. His greatest success came with the introduction of sheep.

He was one of the six persons who founded the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1739.

The court honored him with a knighthood of the Order of the North Star in 1748, and soon after with letters of nobility, changing his name to Alströmer.

He was honored with a status in the Stockholm Exchange, and in 1961 a postage stamp marked the 200th anniversary of his passing.

Jonas Alströmer had four sons in two marriages, Patrik Alströmer, August Alströmer (father of Anna Margaretha Alströmer), Clas Alströmer and Johan Alströmer. His son Clas Alströmer was a noted naturalist.


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