Question for Sparkies

5th October 2007, 17:55
Where did the expression "Oldman" come from, when used by Sparkies using RT, and referring receiving operator. I used to hear them using the term so often, by never got round to asking about the terms origins.


K urgess
5th October 2007, 18:00
Never asked. Just habit.
Probably from the first use of VHF and R/T by pilots during the war.
OM was also used as an abbreviation for Old Man when keying in morse.
"I say, Old Man, got any business coming your way".

Having said that I'm sure someone will prove me wrong and say it comes from even earlier.


5th October 2007, 18:33
I remember reading about the term 'old man' on a Titanica thread:


5th October 2007, 19:48
i suspect the term was in common use at the time of the birth of radio, and simply stuck.

K urgess
5th October 2007, 20:09
There your are, knew I'd be wrong.
Comes from the same mould/era as "Old Boy".
Just the English way of saying anything except the word friend.
Especially useful when you've never been formally introduced or you've forgotten his name. Again[=P]

Ron Stringer
5th October 2007, 23:43
I suspect that the use of "old man" pre-dates radio and comes from the land-line telegraph service. As you say, in late Victorian/early Edwardian times, the term "old man" was used by certain classes of people as a means of addressing an acquaintance or stranger. Used where others might say "guvner", "squire", "mate" or "sport". It had the advantage of abbreviation to just 2 letters - om.

5th October 2007, 23:51

being sparkies, and the upper echelons of seafarers..........

it does seem appropriate.........:)

hee hee

6th October 2007, 01:35
It's also used by amateur radio operators (hams). Male operators are OMs and female operators are YLs (young ladies).

8th October 2007, 04:32
And the wife is referred to as being an XYL.


15th October 2007, 08:24
The Term '' OLD MAN '' OM YL XYL as well as ''73'' ''88'' etc, Came from the Mostly, ''USA LL Telegraphists'' way back, and I guess we just inherited them. Ron has it right.,

Any one remember the abreviation ''55'' and meaning. ???
(Yes I'm also a Radio Ham)

Am furiously looking for a List of USA Telegraphist Abbreviations which I got from a LL Telegraphist many years ago, a Mr Gross Hackenbury from across the ''Pond'' (USA). We QSO'd regularly., when I was first liscenced., (too far back methinks)

15th October 2007, 15:04
From a web page

OM: Abbreviation for "old man," an old radiotelegraph abbreviation for any radio operator (presumed to be male); now used to refer to any male radio operator or announcer.

15th October 2007, 22:33
Hi Athinai,

As far as I recall: 55 = best success. I don't think I've ever heard it on the amateur bands.


gwzm/John (GM4GZQ)

15th October 2007, 22:51
Hi Athinai,

I've just done a search on google and confirm 55 = best success. I also found 51 = good luck.

73 gl es bcnu

gwzm dit dit

16th October 2007, 10:00
GWZM de 5BEW = Mni Tks Info, Old Radio Ham ''Gross'' used to use 55 on many QSO's,, but I must have been too Big-headed to ask its meaning., The Folly of Youth etc., We had a Junior Signals group in the Youth Reserve Force. (1 night per week plus weekends away) which luckily for me had a Ham Rig and It all started from there. = Tks fer Info 73 & 55 Hi