cqd first - distress signaling.
in The Yearbook of Wireless Telegraphy and Telephony, 1913, pages 318-322:

AS navigation has developed from the earliest times, means of signalling from ships to the coast and to passing vessels have been devised and improved, and have been operated under an admirable organisation, but the systems upon which they worked reached their conceivably practical limits long before the invention of Wireless Telegraphy.
Any one of the several systems depended either upon vision or upon propagation of sound, the former being the earliest known.
Lights, flags, rockets, guns, and sirens have all rendered, and are still rendering, inestimable service to navigation, but the disadvantages of visual signalling in the case of fog, and the limitations in range of visual and auditive signalling, even under the most favourable conditions, considerably restrict the usefulness of these methods.
No one can imagine how many lives and how much property would have been saved had Wireless Telegraphy been known of in earlier days. The sight of a pirate in the good old times would not have caused so much anxiety to the skipper of the honest merchantman had the latter been able to call some other vessel to help him with the buccaneer, and no doubt some of our favourite tales of adventure, distress and rescue would never have been written. In the place of them perhaps we would have had more thrilling stories still. Here is a field for some of our novelists of to-day or of the next generation.
It would not be correct to say that the older methods of signalling are superseded by wireless, but it is correct that wireless, with its enormous range of action as compared with that of others, and its independence of weather conditions, is now by far the first of all means of signalling, and by its own intrinsic worth alone places these other systems of signalling in the position of accessories to itself.
When Mr. Marconi had developed his invention to such a point that its utility on board ship became obvious, the Marconi International Marine Communication Co., Ltd., was formed for the purposes implied in its title. The primary object of the new means of maritime wireless communication being to provide additional security to life and property at sea, the company have provided all its ships' stations with emergency apparatus, so that communication could still be carried on in the event of failure of any kind, particularly at the time of a serious accident which might render necessary the issue of calls for help. In this duplication of parts provision was made against the liability to interruption of the supply of electric current from the ship's dynamos, from which, in the ordinary course, power is derived to work the wireless plant, and a source of current independent of the ship's dynamos was provided as a stand-by in case of failure of the latter. Thus, almost simultaneously with the first application of Wireless Telegraphy to marine communication, the Marconi Company included in its standard wireless installations for ship purposes a suitable battery of accumulators, enabling the ship to issue distress calls, even if all the lights on board the ship were extinguished by water in the engine-room. This was over twelve years ago.
As time went on the organisation of wireless communication at sea became more and more perfect, and it was found desirable to embody in one Circular the various directions which had been given to operators regarding the use of the apparatus in the event of accident to the ship. Thus so long ago as January 4th, 1904, the famous "C.Q.D." call was instituted by the Marconi Co. and embodied in its "General Orders." This instruction, a landmark in the history of the organisation of wireless communications, is reprinted below from the original, which is carefully preserved in the archives at Marconi House.
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