A LID for 67 Years!

Last night, I had a great QSO with Don W2LID. Of course, we joked about his call, and I asked him how long he’d had it. As it turns out, he was issued the call in 1937 at the age of 15, so he’s been a LID for 67 years!

As I mentioned, it was a very nice QSO. Don is a real expert at how to conduct a QSO. One of the keys to a good QSO is to ask lots of questions. Practically before I could get a word in edgewise, he’d asked me about my work, why I had a 6 call in the 8 call district, and about the equipment I was running. Through his questioning, we found out that we had some common work experience, he working for Bell Labs, and me working for a competitor, Northern Telecom.

If anyone’s callsign can be a misnomer it’s W2LID. Don’s as far from being a lid as I can imagine.

What’s a Lid?
When we finally did get around to joking about his call, he also mentioned that many of the new operators that he works are often not familiar with the term. I think this happens quite a bit these days. For example, there’s a fellow in our club who refers to his wife as his “XYO.”

Of course, the reason for this is that nowadays the entry license is the Tech license, not the CW-only Novice license. I’m not complaining about this, really, but I think it’s probably a good idea to keep this in mind when talking with these fellows on the repeater or at club meetings and gently correct them on the use of terms. Maybe it’s because I’m a writer and editor, but I’ve come to be a real stickler for proper usage. Call me a prude, but I think when everyone uses the correct terms, and uses them correctly, then there’s less chance for miscommunication.

By the way, after our QSO, I fired up the 2m rig to check in to our club’s weekly net. One of the fellows knew what a lid was, but wanted to know the origin of the term. Having a PC handy, I did a quick Google search. The consensus is that term was first used in the days of wireless telegraphy. Apparently, some of the operators used the lid of a Prince Albert tobacco can to enhance the tone and volume of the mechanical sounder. This practice was frowned upon by the hotshot operators, who derisively referred to these guys as “lids.”


  1. Hi there!

    When discussing the origin of the term “LID” you wrote “The consensus is that term was first used in the days of wireless telegraphy.” Since thee ops were using mechanical sounders, did you mean to say “The consensus is that term was first used in the days of LANDLINE telegraphy.”? The latter would be consistent with the story I had heard.


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