Did Truckers Create an Early Form of Social Media?

If you’ve ever scanned CB radio channels while on the road or your favorite song is “Convoy,” you’re familiar with trucker 10-code. It’s a system truckers use to communicate universally with one another while on the road. While the most familiar code to popular culture is the iconic “10-4” response used to indicate “okay” or “understood,” trucker code goes beyond the basics to create a meaningful form of social communication.

The 10-codes have been in use since the 1930s, when police radio channels had the need for shorter transmissions when they communicated remotely. In 1937, Charlie Hopper, the communications director for the Illinois State Police, invented a code that kept a consistent first syllable (10) since radios took half a second to reach full power. Keeping the first syllable the same gave time for the radio to fire up when officers forgot to pause before speaking. It wasn’t long before truckers across the country adopted the same code to communicate with each other while on journeys alone.

In a sense, these 10-codes were an early form of social media. They were created as a way of social communication within a niche of people. Just as our posts on Facebook and Twitter are branded by hashtags to aggregate information, the 10-codes were a system familiar to users across the country in an advancing form of media—radio.

For developing social media, we salute the Illinois State Police for the creation of the 10-code, and tip our hats to the truckers across the country that still use the 10-code system for social interaction.

10-24 (assignment complete)!