Definitions for call sign
Random House Webster's College Dictionary
Ref: call letters.
Origin of call sign:
A combination of letters and numbers used to identify a radio or television station.
Any combination of characters or pronounceable words, which identifies a communication facility, a command, an authority, an activity, or a unit; used primarily for establishing and maintaining communications. Also called CS. (JP 1-02 Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms.)
In broadcasting and radio communications, a call sign is a unique designation for a transmitting station. In North America they are used as names for broadcasting stations. A call sign can be formally assigned by a government agency, informally adopted by individuals or organizations, or even cryptographically encoded to disguise a station's identity. The use of call signs as unique identifiers dates to the landline railroad telegraph system. Because there was only one telegraph line linking all railroad stations, there needed to be a way to address each one when sending a telegram. In order to save time, two letter identifiers were adopted for this purpose. This pattern continued in radiotelegraph operation; radio companies initially assigned two-letter identifiers to coastal stations and stations aboard ships at sea. These were not globally unique, so a one-letter company identifier was later added. By 1912, the need to quickly identify stations operated by multiple companies in multiple nations required an international standard; an ITU prefix would be used to identify a country, and the rest of the call sign an individual station in that country.
Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms
Any combination of characters or pronounceable words, which identifies a communication facility, a command, an authority, an activity, or a unit; used primarily for establishing and maintaining communications. Also called CS. See also collective call sign; indefinite call sign; international call sign; net call sign; tactical call sign; visual call sign; voice call sign.
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