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Many of you arive at this page after having seen the movie Contact and subsequently looking up the callsign W9GFO.
First, let me say that other than being a fan, I had nothing to do with the movie.
W9GFO used to belong to Robert A. Wilson, see http://www.evansville.net/~duane/contact.html for a picture. His grandson says that he passed away last fall (1996?).
Quoted from http://www.coseti.org/klaescnt.htm (an excellent review of the movie);
"The ham radio call sign that young Ellie used, W9GFO, was originally going to be called W9GFZ in tribute to Grote Reber, a pioneer in radio astronomy in the 1930s and 1940s. The radio club station of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) also uses Reber's call sign. A man from Indiana named Robert Wilson did use the W9GFO call sign in the late 1930s."
I'm going to guess that the late 1930's is when Richard Wilson aquired the callsign and he most likely used it up until 1996 when he passed.
More guessing - Since Mr. Wilson passed away his call sign was unavailable and the makers of the movie were free to use it without worrying about someone making an issue of it, and of course it is very similar to W9GFZ.
I applied for the callsign through the vanity program and was awarded it on Jan 7 1999. This is just over two years since the fall of 1996. Apparently, I was the first to request it once it became available again.
http://www.contact-themovie.com/ The official Contact Movie site.
http://www.coseti.org/klaescnt.htm "Contact" film review by Larry Klaes
http://www.seti.org/phoenix/contact.html "Contact" page at the SETI Institute
http://setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu/ Use your PC to search for ETI
http://www.naic.edu/ Arecibo Radio Telescope
www.ModelStation.com/rich My Homepage