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ABCD = “Amsterdam, Baltimore, Casablanca, Denmark”

History of the Phonetic Alphabet

Thankfully NATO has done one thing right, we don’t have to say ABCD = “Amsterdam, Baltimore, Casablanca, Denmark”.

In the mid-1950s, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) became the first group to approve and use the new alphabet, hence its name. However, several other variations preceded it.

In the 1920s, a special agency of the United Nations, called the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), produced the first official version of a phonetic alphabet. This version primarily used names of cities and countries across the globe: Amsterdam, Baltimore, Casablanca, Denmark, and so on. In 1941, the U.S. Army and Navy established the “Able Baker alphabet,” named after the first two code words. The British Royal Air Force adopted the same alphabet two years later.

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