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February 9, 1990

Dit Dit

Author Affiliations

Columbia, Mo

Columbia, Mo

JAMA. 1990;263(6):823. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03440060069034

A mere pair of "dits" conveys a lot of meaning to an experienced ham radio operator. Superficially, they're the Morse code version of "shave and a haircut—six bits." At the end of a telegraphic contact, the first operator sends "dit di-di dit dit." The listening op replies, "dit dit." To hams, "dit dit" can mean myriad things—from "stand by, I'm looking for a pencil" to a shortened version of "hi hi" (the telegraphic "ha ha"). Say one operator gets a phone call. Hearing silence, the other op sends "?"—di-di dah dah di-dit. The ham on the phone casually reaches for the key and taps, "dit dit." I'm here. No need to worry. The electricity didn't go out, I'm not having a heart attack. Dit dit. I'm still with you. You're not alone.

Close ham radio friends often make daily or weekly "skeds," or schedules, on a certain frequency at a