A SHOUT HISTORY OF AMATEUR RaBIO by Ernst Solberg 3/29/43 SUMMARY Amateur radio has grown up with the science of radio. Its history, due to the changes made during World War 1, can be di- vided into two parts, the pre-war period and the post-war period. Dur- ing the pre-war period, enthusiasts first appeared with the news of Marconi's first transmissions. In 1912, the government regulated ama- teur radio and issued a booklet containing the names of all Amerioan amateurs. In 1914, the American Radio Relay League was founded, and, in the following year, the first issue of its official publication, QST, appeared. In 1917, the war shut down amateur operation, and, of 6,000 "hams" in the country, over 4, QUO went into tne services. After the war, or the princip^ activities dealt with long distance communication, much suocess being found on wave lengths below 200 meters. In 1923, the first amateur Transatlantic conversation was achieved. In 1927, amateur short wave bands were considerably cut by the International Radio Conference in Washington, "ham" is derived from an English corruption of the word "amateur". Due to the war, all amateurs are off the air at present. A hTSTOKY OF AMATEUR RADIO BACKGROUND innateur radio has grown up with the science of radio itself. It is a hobby more closely bound with engineering than any other, and its ranks are dotted with devotees from all walks of life from the skilled technician to the grade school boy anxiously search- ing the band for an answer to his first CQ. wiarconi, pioneer in radio investigation, liked to call himself the first amateur. Many other "istin^uished men followed him as "hams", and these men did much to build radio t-o its present important position. It is proposed in che following pages to give a short history of amateur radio and to show some of Lhe things amateurs have accomplished. The difference between smateur radio before and after World War I is the difference between the inefficient crashing spark gap and ohe quiet effectiveness of the three element vacuum tube. Radio before and after the war was considerably different because the war stimulated development, and improvements were made in many respects. Vacuum tubes were coming into extensive use and radio had, as a whole, made muc h progress. It is for this reason that the history to follow will be divided into two parts, Pre- War and Post- War Amateur Radio. PRE-WAR AKATETJE RADIO About the year 1900, imarooni began to show the feasibility of wireless communication, and his work was widely publicized. This publicity created much interest in persons all over this country who read eagerly of the stran c new invention. The idea of communication without wires or other visible medium hold a fascination which has always been the motive impelling those who vrould become "hams". When Marconi -2- sent his first "S" across the Atlantic, there were several amateur receiving stations set up in attempts to receive him. These were quite unknown to each other, and it might really "be considered that amateur radio was born then, according to Maxim, none of them succeeded in picking up the signal* but this did not discourage them. As a matter of fact, the failure spurred these early amateurs to even greater efforts. REGULATION Up to the year 1912, there was no legal regulation of ama- teur radio, but by that time it had become evident that it was necessary to prevent interference by amateur radio with the marine and commercial services. These latter were already established and increasing rapidly in importance. Consequently, an international congress was called which resulted in the Wireless Law of 1912, limiting amateur operation. Sta- tion and optrator's licenses were required, and a call book listing all amateurs was issued, amateur operation was prohibited on all wave lengths higher than 200 meters, anything lower being considered worthless. Per- haps the most valuable result of the law at that time was the call book, because it revealed the true magnitude of the hobby by publishing the names and addresses of al ] iimerican "hams". lo the orderly mind of Hiram Percy Maxim, this list immediately gave the idea of organization into a unit, whioh resulted in the founding of the American Radio Relay League in 1914. In 1915, the League's official organ, QST (ihe 1 "o^e signal for "Attention, all stations") came into being, and it is still published every month . With the organization of the League, various systems of relay stations were spread across the country until, in 1916, three East-West and three North-South trunk lines existed. In 1917, a transcontinental message was — "2 — sent fron hartford to Los Angeles and "back: in one hour and twenty minuses. The route was from Hartford to Albany, to Jefferson City, to Denver, to Los Angeles, and, at that time eighty minutes was a record. WAR-TIME AMATEUR RADIO The first iYorld ',Var brought an abrupt halt to all amateur transmission and other activities. Over 4,000 "hams" enlisted in the armed forces , and 75 percent of the pre-war amateurs were sent to France. There, radio at first played a very secondary role to wire communication, but gradually it increased in importance. After the Armisi-ice, an iimerican net connecting Chaumont, Treves, Luxemburg, Spa, and Coblenz, handed a large part of the administrative business of the time. American forces in Rrtuacb useu French r^dio^ equipment because it had been field tested and was better adapted to military use. POST-WAR AMATEUR RADIO After tne war, the government was not enthusi- astic about amateur radio, and it was almost a year after the Armistice before the b^n on amateur transmission was lifted. With the war, the vacuum tube had come into considerable use end proved to be much more ef- ficient than the old rotary Godley's tent receiving post at Ardrossen, Scotland, where he heard the first American signals. spark gaps. With more efficient equipment, concepts of long distance -4- operation changed rapidly from 1,000 to 1,500 to 2,000 miles, so that, "by 1920, serious consideration was being given to transatlantic contacts. As yet, by 1921, no Europenn had heard an American amateur signal. It was suspected that this was because of European operators' unfamiliarity with 200 meter e uipment. For that reason an American amateur was sent to England and there heard 30 American stations. In 1922, another test was carried out and 515 American signals were logged, and, moreover, one French end two British stations were heard here. Wo transatlantic con- tacts had been made up to this time and they did not appear likely at 200 meters. Consequently, the lower wavelengths were investigated by vari- ous amateurs with remarkable results, and in 1921, the Navy enlisted amateur aid to study the higher frequencies. As the wavelength dropped, distance results grey/ constantly better. In 19?3, contact was established for several hours between a Frenchman, Deloy, and two Americans. Since that time transatlantic communication has been quite common. Wavelength of 110 meters was used by Deloy, find investigations were carried on all around 100 meters at the time. In 1924, a 9,000-mile contact '.nas made between Connecticut and Mew Zealand. As a result of this increased work below 200 met-ers, it became evident that the band* below that wavelength were far from worthless. With the increasing interest of commercial com- panies, it became necessary to partition the available frequencies into bands, iwnerican Radio Relay League officials obtained bands at 80, 40, 20, 10, and even 5 meters, although little had been done with them prior to this time. These bands were soon tested and excellent distance results obtained. Up to 1926, eight amateurs had contacted all continent sj at the present time about 5,000 have done so. In 1927 at the International Kadio telegraph Conference in ftasnington, amateur radio became a semi -permanent institution when the Conference reco, nized it es an accepted form of radio com- munication. The frequency bands assigned by the Conference were narrower than those previously held but the deficiency has been made up to some degree by the improvement in equipment, such as the introduction of crystal control, single signal receivers, etc. After this date, de- velopment has consisted for thtmosi- jj&rt, of technical improvement and expansion of activities already begun. Some of these activities before this War included: Army and Nsvj amateur nets, emergency work in times of disaster, cooperation with expeditions (200 have been assisted), end experimental development. "HAM" The term "ham" should be explained. It was originated by 19th century English sport swr iters, whose abbreviation for amateur was "Am". Cockney dialect changed it to "ham" and in some way it reached American landlines where it referred to newcomers and cubs. It eventually got around to amateur radio telegraph operators, who have accepted it with considerable pride. Today the amateur bands are temporarily silent. Amateurs assist Civilian Dufense, experiment alung vario us lines, and try curious methods of communicating with their fellows (Ex. - Through the gas end water pipes, supersonics, etc.). Every "ham" looks eagerly forward to the end of the War when his and 60,000 other transmitters can go back on the air. BIBLIOGRAPHY (1) De Soto, Clinton B. Calling CQ. New Yorki Doubleday, Doran and Company, 1926. (2) Codel, Martin. Radio and Its Future. New Yorkt Harper and Brothers, 1930. (3) Editors. "A Quarter of a Century with QST." QST, 24 (Dec. 1940), 12 - 21. (4) Warner, K.B.. "It Seems to Us." QST, 23 (May, 1939), 49 - 53. (&) The editors. The Radio Amateurs handbook. Concords Rumford Press, 1940.