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New Book! The History of Wireless: How Creative Minds Produced Technology For The Masses
by Ira Brodsky

Day One Mother Nature sends static crashes and lightning crashes around the world - but no one is around to hear them!!! Either audibly or by radio - DX will be!!

DX is an early telephone term for distant exchange. It is also defined in Funk & Wagnall's as Distance. The term DX appears in many math formulas as distance of x. See Origin of DX. At any rate, for Amateur Radio, it is the sending of messages over long distances.


The Greeks were the first to discover electricity about 2500 years ago. They noticed that when an amber was rubbed with other materials it became charged with an unknown force that had the power to attract objects such as dried leaves, feathers, bits of cloth, or other lightweight materials. The Greeks called amber electron. The word electric was derived from it and meant "to be like amber," or to have the ability to attract other objects.

1200 BC In the Iliad, Homer tells of a chain of beacon fires prearranged to signal the return of Agamemnon's fleet to Mycenae and, thus, gave Clytemnestra and Aegisthus time to arrange the assassination of Agamemnon.23

522 BC Persian Army employs a relay system where soldiers positioned on hilltops shout and relay military messages 30 times faster than by runner. Accounts of flags, mirrors and smoke signals appear in early history.

490 B.C Greek runner Pheidippides, Athenian courier is sent to Sparta to request help when the Persians landed at Marathon -  runs 150 miles in two days. At the conclusion of the battle, he returns to Athens, where he reportedly shouted “Rejoice! We conquer!” and then died of exhaustion.

Early On - Mirrors are used to signal across visible distances - the heliograph

1206 Genghis Khan is denied importing of radio gear, so develops a "pony express" to keep tabs on his empire -- pony stations at about 25 miles apart. 

1500 -1800's Early discoveries of Electricty and Magnetism can be found in the annals of history, names such as Gilbert, Von Guericke, Volta, Oersted, Wheatstone, Cooke, Faraday, Ampere, Ohm, Davy, all contribute to the ultimate development of wireless.

1610 -  Galileo observes sunspots through his telescope. He also experiments extensively in the fields of mechanics, astronomy, the microscope, thermometry, and magnetism.

1749-1755 “First” solar cycle observed in Zurich, Switzerland. Solar Cycle 1700-2000

1823  In England, Sir Francis Ronalds builds a 'telegraph' in his garden; no one is interested. 23

1831 - 1903. Early Pioneers and Inventors include, Maxwell, Marconi, Loomis, Edison, Henry, Hertz, Feddersen, Von Bezold,  Hughes, Stokes, Tesla, Henry, Bell, Preece, Hertz, Branly, Dodge, Braun, Lodge, and Popoff all lay the foundation of wireless 14

1835  Samuel F. B. Morse formulates the elements of a relay system. By 1837 the system is improved and was demonstrated using 'lightning wires' and 'Morse code,' an electronic alphabet that could carry messages. The patent was applied for in 1840. A line was constructed between Baltimore and Washington and the first message, sent on May 24,1844, was 'What hath God wrought!'

1861 the two coasts of the United States were linked by telegraph. The operating procedures, codes and protocols of the telegraph were carried over to the new age of "wireless". Indeed many wireless operators came from the telegraph ranks.

1861 - 1865 During the US Civil War, Telegraph is used extensively using existing commercial systems, and building and operating more than fifteen thousand miles of lines for military purposes only.


The term wireless was a natural extension of less wired or the telegraph. Not until 1906 did the term Radio begin to appear.

1850 - By 1850 most of the basic electrical phenomena had been investigated. However, James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879), Professor of Experimental Physics at Cambridge then came up with something entirely new. By some elegant mathematics he had shown the probable existence of electromagnetic waves of radiation. But it was twenty four years later (eight years after Maxwell's death) that Heinrich Hertz (1857-1894) in Germany gave a practical demonstration of the accuracy of this theory. He generated and detected electromagnetic waves across the length of his laboratory on a wavelength of approximately one metre.16

1864 Mahlon Loomis 1 proposes a vertical top-capacity loaded aerial with a keying device and an indicator, all in series to ground. DX Might Be!

1865 Using 2 kites, Mahlon Loomis 2 transmits wireless messages between two mountains 18 miles apart in Virginia. Son Of A Gun - DX IS. The first Dxpedition???

1865 - On 17 May 1865  the first International Telegraph Convention was signed by the 20 participating countries and the International Telegraph Union (later ITU) was set up to enable subsequent amendments to this initial agreement to be agreed upon13

1870 Mahlon Loomis successfully transmitted wireless telegraphic signals between two ships which were two miles apart on the Chesapeake Bay. The U. S. Navy sponsored those experiments.

1876 They were thinking about Television. Get the History of TV -- From The FCC

1883 Edison demonstrated that an electric current could pass between a heated filament and a cold plate in a vacuum.

1886 Heinrich Hertz proved that electromagnetic waves could be sent through space.

1887 Heinrich Hertz experments with parbolic dishes - produces waves at about 30cm - 1 GHz!!!

1896 - First practical wireless by Marconi, 'Hertzian Waves' over two miles! DX Will Be! When he read about the experiments of Heinrich Hertz and about Popov's suggestion, he saw the possibility of using these waves as a means of signaling. Marconi realized that his signaling system would be most useful to shipping.

1898 -- In January, British Leslie Miller 3 publishes an article in the British hobby magazine "The Model Engineer and Amateur Electrician". Here he contributed a superbly written article titled "The New Wireless Telegraphy" encouraging experimenters in the new field of "Wireless". 

1898 - US Navy establishes coastal stations and begins to outfit the fleet with wireless communications.

1898 - 1912, experimenters begin transmitting and DX is anything over 10 miles. Early Amateur Radio in the UK can be seen at Dawn Of Radio in the UK and Europe16

1899 Marconi sends a signal over the English Channel - 32 miles. QSL's are in order.

1901 Marconi bridges the Atlantic, a feat which caught the world's attention and fueled the imagination of thousands of potential amateurs, who took their first steps into wireless. His transatlantic triumph came on the 12th December 1901 when the morse letter 'S' was transmitted from Poldhu, in Cornwall and received by Marconi himself at St. John's, Newfoundland, who recorded the historic event in his pocket book simply "Sigs at 12.20, 1.10 & 2.20".

Marconi's original transmitters used high voltage spark gaps to generate 'Hertzian Waves'.  The first experimental sets used induction coils with vibrating contact current interrupters to generate the high voltages. 

In the way of development after Marconi's high voltage spark gap came the use of  high voltage transformers to generate the spark gap voltage. The ultimate came in the powerful transmitters such as those at the U.S. Navy's station at Arlington, Virginia. Here a 500 Hz generator, a step up transformer, and a rotary spark gap was used used to create the high voltage. Some of these produced a deafening   noise created by the spark. Spark transmitters were often placed in acoustically insulated rooms to deaden the sound. 

Around 1900 William Duddell discovered the principle of negative resistance in connection with a carbon arc. By adding a resonant circuit to the arc it would oscillate at a frequency determined by the LC constants. Duddell's arc would only oscillate at audio frequencies, audible to human hearing, and it was dubbed the "singing arc."

In 1902 Valdemar Poulsen,  succeeded in making the arc oscillate at the higher frequencies by using electrodes operating in a sealed chamber, with hydrocarbon vapor, and a strong magnetic field. The arc became the first transmitter capable of generating pure, undamped waves. Arc transmitters were widely used at both shore stations and on ships. They were complicated to operate and were infamous for exploding when an operator introduced too much alcohol into the chamber. Arc transmitters were brought to the United States in 1909.

One of the more powerful arc transmitters constructed were the 1,000 watt units built for the U.S. Navy at Bordeaux, France, during World War I. In Java, a unit was rated at 3,000 W, the antenna was suspended over a mountain gorge. By gradually scaling up the equipment Federal Telegraph finally produced a 30 kW unit that outperformed a powerful rotary spark transmitter at the Navy's Arlington station. The navy wanted still more power and Elwell thought he could build a 60 kW unit by merely scaling up the parts again. But it didn't work. Arc transmitters were gradually eliminated when the new vacuum tube transmitters came into use. However, many were used up to World War II. Perhaps the last to be in operation on land were the stations operated by the Mackay Radio and Telegraph Company between cities on the Pacific coast.

A synchronous rotary had the spark electrodes mounted on the shaft of the motor generator which feeds a HV step up transformer. In this way, the spark would discharge the capacitor synchronously with the peak in the AC waveform. In a non-synchronous gap, the discharge could occur anywhere within the cycle. Buzzer were sometimes used to supply the voltage to an induction coil in early spark coil sets, since they had a higher "tone" than what some other interrupters could produce. Buzzers were used early on as a way to get ICW ( interrupted CW ) signals in early vacuum tube transmitters. The buzzer would interrupt the CW at an audio rate, thus modulating the CW carrier. You could detect the signal with a non-oscillating detector.10 Also see Fessenden and the Early History of Radio Science where the concept of an HF Alternator is discussed.20 

1902 - Nathan Stubblefield  Kentucky farmer invents wireless telephone! But was it radio? Facts and folklore about Nathan Stubblefield by Bob Lochte24.

1902 Oliver Heaviside predicted that there was an conducting layer in the atmosphere which allowed radio waves to follow the Earth's curvature. This layer in the atmosphere, the Heaviside layer, is named after him. Its existence was proved in 1923 when radio pulses were transmitted vertically upward and the returning pulses from the reflecting layer were received. Propagation has always been the life blood of long distant radio communications and from the early days, Amateurs carefully watched propagation conditions as they do today.

Early wireless codes  was The American Morse code, International code and U. S. Navy code11

1904 Sir John Ambrose Fleming worked to develop the first rectifier and in 1904, while working for the Marconi Company, he was faced with the problem of detecting weak wireless signals. He was inspired by his work with Edison’s lamps back in 1889 and decided to try inserting one of the lamps in an oscillatory circuit containing a galvanometer. He had found the solution to the problem of rectifying high frequency wireless circuits.


1904 One of the first companies to sell radio equipment to experimenters and amateurs was the Electro Importing Company of New York City, set up in 1904 by Hugo Gernsback.

1905 Guglielmo Marconi patented his directive horizontal antenna.23 (A Beam Antenna!!)

1905 Horace G. Martin introduces the The Vibroplex semi-automatic telegraph key, commonly called a "bug". The Use of 500 kHz as the International Distress Frequency is common.

1906  First wireless communication of human speech (and music) on December 24, 1906. Fessenden spoke and broadcasted music by radio from Brant Rock, Massachusetts, to ships in the Atlantic Ocean using a two kilowatt (100 kHz) alternator developed by Alexanderson.  Fessenden modulates continuous wave. 23

1906 November 3. The "Berlin International Wireless Telegraph Convention" 4 defined call letters, operating procedures and signals for Coastal Stations and ships at sea. The committee decided that henceforth the term "Radio" would better describe wireless. Radio is derived from the Latin radius (ray or beam of light). The term wireless lingered for many years, but by 1912 the term Radio was used in legislation. Some countries even today are fond of the word wireless. Radio Shack probably gets its name from maritime lore dating back to the invention of the radio at the turn of the century. At the time, wireless equipment aboard ships was generally housed above the bridge in a wooden structure that was called the "radio shack". 

1906, Lee De Forest added a third electrode to the diode, the "triode" or "audion" tube could both rectify and amplify; and its greater control it meant that various electronic circuits would finally be commercially feasible.

1908 Hugo Gernsback published his first magazine, Modern Electrics (later to become Electrical Experimenter) which does much to foster and popularize Amateur Radio.

1909, On January 2, the first amateur radio club; The Junior Wireless Club, Limited, of New York City, was organized. Later the club name changed to Radio Club Of America, and their history is a must read, don't miss it.

1909 Young radio amateurs are building receivers with whatever parts are available. Although headphones can be purchased...many public telephone booths become inoperative.23 N6AW reports there are many examples of home brew receivers at the Antique Wireless Association museum in Bloomfield, NY dating to prior to 1909.  It seems that very early on the young experimenters figured out that given a little wire for a coil & antenna, a home-made detector described in Modern Electrics or Hugo Gernsback's catelogue and a pair of headphones (some were homemade) they were all set.  Don Wallace was first on the air in 1909 with a self-assigned call and working his buddy a block away with a spark coil from a Ford.

1909 First Callbook issued - 1909 The Wireless Blue Book (pdf courtesy University of Pennsylvania Amateur Radio Club (link goes to club history) -- thx go to Russ WA3FRP!). Today many Amateur Radio Callbooks are on the web.

1910 Oct 5. The first Cat's Whisker Detector invented by B. F. Miessner who received "The De Forest Audion Award in 1963."  This patent was sold to John Firth for "a magnificent sum
of $200".  From the "On the Early History of Radio Guidance".  Library of Congress Card # is 64-2115.

1910 Senator Depew introduces a bill virtually prohibiting amateur experimenting. The Junior Wireless Club organizes a committee to plead the cause of the amateur before Congress. The bill is squashed and again DX IS!17


Pre 1912 - Before the advent of Vacuum Tubes14 - various forms of detectors were used including: The Coherer, Lodge Muirhead Coherer, Electrolytic Detector, Carborundum Detector, Fleming Valve, Thermo Electric Detector, and Magnetic Detectors. See World Of Wireless 14 Also see Crystal Sets14

1912 - Edwin H. Armstrong6 uses feedback in an Audion - amplifiers and oscillators now practical.

1912 - April 12, RMS Titanic sinks after encountering an iceberg, the tragic loss of life prompts new international radio laws which also affect Amateur Radio, including frequency restrictions and operating procedures. See the Bill Continelli's  History of Amateur Radio.5 Also see excellent article on Radio Aspects of the Titanic Disaster and the Transcript Of The Actual Radio Distress Traffic of the Titanic.

Before 1912, call signs were just made up by the aspiring Amateur and it wasn't until the Radio Act of 1912 that the first licenses were issued. An HTML version of Early Radio Laws 4 is on-line. Very interesting reading as it defines DE, CQ, Operating Procedures, Morse Code of the day, and many Q Signals we still use. In 1911, Hiram Percy Maxim's assumed call was SNY. In 1912, Irving Vermilya, 1ZE, 6 received Skill Certificate No. 1, thus considered as the first licensed Amateur Radio Operator. Some sources indicate the code requirement was 5 wpm (how things go around and come around - 5 wpm now in the year 2000!!!). Written exams included essay type questions -- making a diagram of transmitting and receiving apparatus and how they worked! Also of course International and US Law questions.

For opinions on the origins of  Q-signals, Z-codes, X-codes, R-codes, and S-codes, DE, CQ, 33, 73, ham, lid, SOS, mayday, pan-pan, RST system, S-meter, prosigns, roger, wilco, boatanchor -- See Origins.  Also each human endeavor seems to develop its own jargon, ham jargon is almost incomprehensible to others and has a rich history -- see Jargon and abbreviations.

1913 Amateurs using Audions in their receivers discovered that distances of up to 350 miles were now possible on 200 meters.

1913 - Radio Call Letter Policies 4 issued by the Department Of Commerce listed the USA with call letters of KDA to KZZ - United States, N - All to the United States, W - All to the United States. This document shows other countries as well. However, for Amateurs, "The call letters for amateur stations in the United States will be awarded by radio inspectors, each for his own district, respectively according to the following system:  (a) The call will consist of three items; number of radio district; followed by two letters of the alphabet. Thus, the call of all amateur stations in New England (which comprises the first district) will be the figure "one" in Continental Morse, followed by two letters; in California (in the sixth district) the figure "six" followed by two letters; in South Carolina the figure "four" followed by two letters; in Missouri the figure "nine" followed by two letters, etc. The letters X, Y, Z, must not be used as the first of the two letters". Examples, 1AW, 6OI, 2MN. 

Here is a possible explanation as to how the USA got W and K, no documentation on this but sounds plausible. The USA had unofficially used N for North America (e.g., NBZ, Boston), also A for America. The letter "N" in morse is dah dit, adding a dah to N gives dah dit dah which is "K'. Letter "A" in morse is dit dah, adding a dah to A gives dit dah dah which is "W".

Somewhere in this era, an informal system of prefixes evolved and Amateurs used A for Australia, B for Belgium, C for Canada, etc. This single-letter system worked until Amateur Radio spread around the world and there were too many countries for the system to accommodate. Thus, in 1927,  a new system took effect using two-letters with the first letter indicating the continent (E for Europe, A for Asia, N for North America, F for Africa, etc.) and the second letter indicating the country. Stations in the 48 United States used an NU call. These were called "Intermediate Prefixes".

With the advent of the Radio Act of 1912, the first Amateur Radio License is issued. The call letters assigned to the United States were NAA -NZZ, WAA - WZZ, and KDA to KZZ (KAA-KCZ was assigned to Germany and was not given to the United States until 1929). The somewhat puzzling Amateur calls like 1AW, 6OI, 2MN, etc. is explained by the fact that Amateur stations did not qualify for international call signs. At that time, the USA was divided into nine Radio Districts so Amateurs were granted calls consisting of their district number followed by letters, the first letter was from A through W, for example, 1AW, 1TS. Recognition was given to certain land stations, X as the first letter for Experimental licenses (e.g. 1XE), Y for School licenses (e.g. 9YY), and Z for Special Amateur licenses (e.g. 8ZZ). 1x3 calls (like 1AAA) was issued to Amateurs beginning in 1914. For a list of early X, Y, Z callsign issues -- see  U.S. Special Land Stations: 1913-1921.It was not until October 1, 1928, that the W and K prefixes were assigned to Amateurs.

Amateurs were relegated to 200 meters and down and shocked the world with making excellent use of these higher frequencies -- see "200 Meters and Down" by Clinton B. DeSoto

1913 to 1980’s Don Wallace12 W6AM. DX Hall of Fame and early pioneer of Amateur radio. Don has probably done more to promote DX operation and encourage new operators than any other individual. Famous for his antenna farms in Rolling Hills on the Palos Verdes peninsula. N6AW reports  Don was first licensed in 1913 as 6OC, and he first appears in Radio Stations of the US, supplement 3 to the first edition, spring 1914.  (1st ed. published in 1913).  He received 6AM in 1926, W6AM in 1928.

1914 - The ARRL is organized by Hiram Percy Maxim to help relay messages, typical ranges were 25 miles. QST magazine appears in 1915. Hiram Percy Maxim was the son of Sir Hiram Stevens Maxim who invented the machine gun (the Devil's Paint Brush), father and son are often confused, although Hiram Percy Maxim did invent a weapons silencer. 

1914 Frederick E. Terman 6AE is operating out of Palo Alto, CA. Later he publishes "Radio Engineering" in 1932 and the Radio Engineers's Handbook in 1943, 1955, which becomes the bible for engineers and technicians alike during the vacuum tube era. . He is also famous for persuading young Bill Hewlett and David Packard to stay in California instead of going East to start their electronics business.

1915 Ray Kellog invents the The electric ( moving coil ) loudspeaker. 23

1915 John R. Carson applied for a patent on his idea to suppress the carrier and one sideband. 25  Also See Ham Speak and Origins

1916 Amateur Station 2IB works 8AEZ Lima Ohio - 750 miles across the USA

1916 Amateur station 2PM succeeded in breaking all records by sending the first transcontinental relay  message from New York to California. Several weeks later the same station and the same operators succeeded in getting signals to California, a distance of some 2,500 miles over-land17

Note that the NAA -NZZ, WAA - WZZ, and KAA to KZZ allotments are used for all broadcasting stations, aircraft, marine, police, fire, MARS and just about anything else that uses a radio. Although the N numbers on aircraft are registration numbers with the FAA, private planes use them legitimately for their "Radio Call". CB at one time had calls like KEV9506 (mine) until this was done away with. Now CB, FRS, and special low power services do not require a license. GMRS does require a license -- see CB and Family Radio Service.

Amateur N call usage has been very limited until the 1970's, but some notable exceptions at N - CALLS

1917 - There were about 6,000 Amateurs. By 1917, code speed requirements were increased to 10 wpm. Amateur radio was shut down during WWI and the Navy even issued orders against receiving as well. Amateurs get back on the air in October - November, 1919.

1918 - The superheterodyne-principle is discovered by Armstrong.  Equipment homebrew and manufacturers switch from direct conversion to superheterodynes around 193414

1918  - The first crystal (Rochelle salt) controlled oscillator is invented by A.M. Nicolson.

1919 Marconi and Fleming both assume strong positions on fostering "Amateur Radio". Perhaps without them the Amateur Radio Service might not exist today.16

1919 E. Kaleveld PA0XE claims that the first QSL was issued 1919 by C. D. Hoffmann, 8UX, but there is no example in existence. Nor is there a record in "Wireless World" or in any other known contemporary publication supporting the claim of 2UV to have issued the first authentic QSL card in Europe or the date it was used. "Wireless World" reproduced a post card bearing the call 8ML in the issue dated May 5, 1923, and this, according to the caption, was "one of the specially printed cards circulated in America by members of the ARRL for reporting the reception of experimental mtransmissions", and advocated the adoption in the United Kingdom of a similar type of card for acknowledging reports. 

1919--President Woodrow Wilson broadcasts to American Troops in Europe, the first Presidential radio broadcast.

1919  The Alexander Bill proposed to give the government - specifically the Navy Dept - control of all transmitting, and leave amateurs out in the cold. There are articles about this in  about this in the Jan, Feb, and Mar, 1919, "Electrical Experimentor".  Gernsback claims to have killed the Bill and so does  the ARRL, per the 1936 "Radio Amateur's Handbook", claims that Hiram Percy Maxim killed it with a single handed job of personal lobbying in Washington. Perhaps both did.


1920 The Radio Amateurs Callbook (RAC, Flying Horse) is published. International QSL bureaus are establihed.

1920 October 27th  -- first licensed Broadcast Station KDKA, Pittsburg, PA. For the History of Broadcast Radio  -- also has a  list of the  first 100 BC Stations. Another is Broadcasting History Links.

1920 The Ladies Of Early Radio6 Perhaps the first woman to be both an announcer and an engineer was Eunice Randall. At the age of 19, she was broadcasting on 1XE, a Boston-area radio station owned by AMRAD. Soon after, she was deeply involved with both professional and amateur radio, building her own ham station, and ultimately became one of the first women in New England to hold the first class license (her ham calls were 1CDP, and later W1MPP).

1921 - ARRL membership numbers 6,000 transmitting members.

1921 - Practical horn loudspeakers were developed.

1921 - The Transatlantic Tests  Paul Godley 2ZE (a prominent U.S. amateur) traveled to England with US equipment and operating from Ardrossan, a coast town near Glasgow, Scotland. At 00.50 GMT on December 9th 1921, he identified signals from 1BCG located at Greenwich, Connecticut. Two days later the historic first complete message transmitted by U.S. amateurs and received in Europe on the "short waves" (actually 230 metres) heralded a new era. The message read: No.1 de 1BCG. Words 12. New York December 11 1921. To Paul Godley Ardrossan Scotland. Hearty Congratulations. Signed Burghard Inman Grinan Armstrong Amy Cronkhite. In the summer of 1922 amateurs in France began to get licences and Leon Deloy 8AB President of the Radio Club of Nice in southern France started hearing British stations. After a visit to the U.S.A. Deloy was able to improve his equipment and on November 27th 1923 he contacted Fred Schnell 1MO of West Hartford, Connecticut for the first ever 2-way QSO across the Atlantic. They used the "useless" wavelengths around 100 metres16

1922 Amateur Radio License Requirements for the two grades of licenses, Amateur first grade and Amateur second grade, were the same except the second grade license was issued only where an applicant could not be personally examined by a US Radio Inspector for the district. Applicants were required to demonstrate technical expertise in adjusting and operating equipment, and a knowledge of International Conventions and US laws . The code requirement was ability to transmit and receive in the Continental Morse at least 10 words per minute and recognize important signal usage of the day (distress and "keep out" signals).  General amateur stations were restricted to 200 meters and down with input power not to exceed 1 kW. Amateurs within five nautical miles of a military station were restricted to 500 Watts.11

1922 Carson describes FM and concludes it is inferior to AM, a decade later Armstrong places a new perspective on the matter.

1923 - Patent granted for SSB. Also See Ham Speak and Origins

1923 Us Bureau Of Standards suggests the use of frequency instead of wavelength.

1923 - WWV began broadcasting time and frequency information from its radio station.

1923, November 27, the impossible happened.  Leon Deloy (8AB), of Nice, France worked (on 110 m CW)  USA stations: Fred H. Schnell (1MO, Connecticut) and John L. Reinartz (1QP/1XAL, after - W3RB).Four thousand miles - DX For Sure.

1923, from "200 Meters  and Down," by Clinton DeSoto, page 85. "It was expected, then, that every effort would be bent toward putting over the fourth transatlantic tests, to be held from December 21st (1923) to January 10th (1924). The widest possible publicity was accorded these tests on both sides of the Atlantic. To facilitate the international identification, an initial letter was assigned to each country to be used by the amateurs of that country ahead of their calls. The United States was given "U"; an American station would sign itself u1AA, for example. For each of the countries participating in the transatlantics: Australia, Canada, France, Great Britain, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, United States and New Zealand (z). Cuba was assigned the phonetic Q, Argentina the phonetic R. South Africa was arbitrarily given O." These were not official prefixes assigned by any authority, but an informal convention adopted to avoid confusion when transoceanic communications were first becoming "routinely" possible. Later an additional prefix letter was adopted indicating the continent, "N" being North America, so "1AW" would be "Nu1AW". 

1924 - Quartz Crystals. H.S. Shaw introduces the amateur radio community to quartz crystal control of radio transmitters and Hams were the first sizable commercial market for crystals. See in-depth article on The Influence of Amateur Radio on the Development of the Commercial Market for Quartz Piezoelectric Resonators. The use of crystals yielded a very clean '9x' note. Amateurs begin building Superheterodyne receivers.

1924, Oct 18 A station in England G2SZ Cecil Goyder worked a New Zealand station Z4AA Frank Bell, a distance of almost 12,000 miles.

In 1924, Amateurs received new bands at 80, 40, 20, and 5 meters. Spark transmission was prohibited on the new bands. By 1926, Spark transmission was prohibited for use by Amateurs. The existence of the ionosphere (first proposed by Oliver Heaviside) is confirmed by the English physicist, Edward V.Appelton in 1924. Prior to that the term "ether" was thought to explain the magic.

1925 - Heater type vacuum tubes made possible the first all electric receivers. Dynamic loudspeakers appeared

1925 - International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) is founded. Dedicated to organizing and providing representation of  the interests of Amateur Radio, nationally and internationally, for the better mutual use of the radio spectrum among radio amateurs throughout the world, to develop Amateur Radio worldwide, and to successfully interact with the agencies responsible for regulating and allocating radio frequencies. An example of the IARU work is the NCDXF/IARU International Beacon Network.

In 1926, Brandon Wentworth, 6OI, achieved confirmation for working all of the continents.

1926 Hidetsugu Yagi and Shintaro Uda invent the "beam" antenna array.

1927--The Radio Act of 1927 creates the Federal Radio Commission. (The Federal Communications Commission came later in 1934). The 10 meter band is opened to Amateurs.

1927-1982 KV4AA Dick Spenceley12 in the U.S. Virgin Islands provides thousands of contacts over the years. He was inducted into the CQ DX Hall of Fame in March, 1969.

1927 -  the Union (forerunner of (ITU) allocated frequency bands to the various radio services existing at the time (fixed, maritime and aeronautical mobile, broadcasting, amateur and experimental) to ensure greater efficiency of operation in view of the increase in the number of services using frequencies and the technical peculiarities of each service13 Amateur bands are established near 160, 80, 40, 20, 10, and 5 Meters, power limits to be set by each nation, and the international intermediates prefixes are abandoned.

1928 May --  ARRL sponsors what is probably the first organized contest dubbed "The 1928 International Relay party". There about 17,000 licensed Amateurs.

1928 - Paul M. Segal, W9EEA,  writes a "Suggested  Amateur's Code".  In the USA today,  the government's official position on the purpose of Amateur Radio is defined in  Part 97 of the FCC Rules and Regulations -- See Basis and Purpose of  The Amateur Radio Service.

1928 - The Federal Radio Commission announces that all old licenses issued by the Department Of Commerce will be terminated on August 31, 1928. Applications under the new licensing system must be submitted no later than July 31, otherwise the applicant must submit to re-examination. Beginning October 1, 1928, the new W and K prefixes were assigned to Amateurs.

1928 - As the transmitting range of amateur stations increased, Hams naturally worked DX and it became necessary to have international call signs, international prefix structure is set by the International Radiotelegraph Conference of 1927-1928.

This call sign structure lasted for the rest of the 1920's and the 1930's. Stations in the 48 States had a 1x2 or 1x3 call sign beginning with W and containing a numeral from 1 to 9. Stations in Alaska, Hawaii, or other US Possessions had a K prefix. See Pre WWII K calls. The zero numeral was not available. Boundaries were considerably different than today - for example the western sections of New York and Pennsylvania were in the 8th call district. See Old District boundaries 4 Note that the suffixes beginning with X was reserved for experimental stations. Eventually,  the FCC  relaxed their position on the 1x2 and 1x3 X suffix calls, but the 2x3 call signs (such as KB6XYZ) are still reserved for experimental use. W#X** calls were also portable calls - a separate authorization was needed for portable operation and their suffixes began with X. Apparently there was a very limited "vanity call" program - if a ham wanted a 1X2 call and met several criteria, such a call would be issued. If a ham moved to a different call area, he/she had to get a new callsign that matched the district of the new location. Unlike today, you could always tell where a ham station was located by the callsign.

At one time in the 1920's and 30's, college club stations were issued W#Yx calls. So W6YX (1922) is Stanford, W9YB (1920) is Purdue, etc. Many of these are still extant -- try for your college.

1928-1941 On-The-Roof Gang (OTRG) - unique school located on the roof of the old Navy Department Building trained to intercept and analyze foreign radio communications. Many would be Hams. Also see NCVA -- a unique organization of active and retired U.S. Naval Cryptologists, past and present.

1929 - Screen grid introduced into the vacuum tube. Pentodes came a year later.

Early to mid 1930's -- From W3HF - During a short period of time in the early- to mid-30s, 1x4 callsigns were issued for "permanent" portable stations. They were of the form W#ZZxx (e.g., W2ZZAF). They were only issued for a short time, first appearing in late 1931. (They were not in the June 1931 government callbook, but are listed in the Fall 1931 Flying Horse.) It looks to me like the government was issuing W#ZZx calls (1x3s) to portable stations, and went to 1x4s after they used up the 26 available 1x3s. The last ones seem to have expired by 1936-7. (There are only a few in my Spring 36 callbook.) From W3HF

January 1930, QST magazine announces Twenty-Meter Phone Authorization.

1932 - At the 1932 Madrid Conference, the Union decided to combine the International Telegraph Convention of 1865 and the lnternational Radiotelegraph Convention of 1906 to form the International Telecommunication convention. It also decided to change its name and was known as from 1 January 1934 as the International Telecommunication Union in order to reaffirm the full scope of its responsibilities, i.e. all forms of communication, by wire, radio, optical systems or other electromagnetic systems.11

1933 First Field Day Contest.

1933 Astatic Crystal Microphones introduced.

1933 and before. Up to 1933, there were at least 1,200 companies producing radios of some kind.

1933 Franklin D. Roosevelt starts presidential radio broadcasts.

The Communications Act of 1934 created the Federal Communications Commission. Amateur Licenses are reorganized into Class A, Class B, and Class C. In 1936 there about 46,000 licensed Amateurs.

Class A- 13 wpm code test, sending and receiving. Basic and advanced written tests on theory and regulations. At least one year of experience as a Class B or C licensee. Exam given at FCC examination points only. All amateur privileges.8

Class B- 13 wpm code test, sending and receiving. Basic written test on theory and regulations.  Exam given at FCC examination points only. All amateur privileges except 75 and 20 meter phone were granted with a Class B license.8

Class C - Same as Class B, except tests given by mail.8

Licenses terms were 5 years, and renewable. Renewal required that the operator certify that he/she could meet all of the current requirements for licensing. Also, renewal required that the license holder make least three contacts on the amateur bands in the six months prior to the renewal application - and the contacts had to be on CW, not voice. All licensees had to be US citizens.  If you lived within 125 miles of a quarterly examining point, you had to appear in person for the exam. If you lived more than 125 miles from an examining point, or had a permanent physical disability that prevented you from going to an exam session, or were on active military duty, the Class C exam could be taken by mail. This was monitored by  a volunteer examiner (another ham or a commercial licensee).8

An accurate log of all transmissions had to be kept. Mobile and portable operation were allowed, but if a ham wanted to operate away from his fixed station, and would be gone for a period of more than 48 hours, written notice of the mobile/portable operation had to be sent to the FCC. Before 1949, mobile operation was limited to the ham bands above 25 MHz. Mobile and portable stations had to identify themselves on the air as "mobile" or "portable".8 An accurate log of all transmissions had to be kept. Mobile and portable operation were allowed, but if a ham wanted to operate away from his fixed station, and would be gone for a period of more than 48 hours, written notice of the mobile/portable operation had to be sent to the FCC. Before 1949, mobile operation was limited to the ham bands above 25 MHz. Mobile and portable stations had to identify themselves on the air as "mobile" or "portable".8

In this era, crystal controlled operation was used (mandatory ??) and a station calling CQ would say calling CQ and tuning -- indicating he/she would tune up and down the band for a response and it was common if not usual to work another station on a different frequency. Crystals were expensive, so long CQs and replies to CQs were common, because most hams tuned the entire band looking for replies. Today you can still hear the OT's --- CQ CQ CQ from WZ9OOO calling CQ for any station , bye for a call and tuning. (and the new guys wonder why they would be tuning - VFO's and transceivers being the norm).  

1935 Russ Hall describes tropospheric refraction for the 5M band explaining why signals might exceed line-of-sight range.

1936 Edwin H. Armstrong creates a classic paper on Frequency Modulation. His analysis of a noise free high fidelity system is the basis of our FM broadcast today. 

1936 - 56 Mcs - G5BY was the first European to span the Atlantic on 56MHz when his signals were heard by W2HXD17

1937 The ARRL introduces the DXCC Program. Discontinued during WWII and started all over again after the war.

In 1938, Amateurs lose the exclusive use of 40 meters, to be shared with SWL Broadcasters. The FCC grants two new  bands, 2 1/2 meters (112 Mc) and 1 1/4 meters (224 Mc).

1938 - The distance record for 56MHz (the old 5 Metre band) was held by W1EYM and W6DNS for a 2500 mile contact on July 22,1938. For receiving he used a rhombic. 240 feet on a leg 17

1938 - W3CRA (postwar W8CRA) confirmed 100 countries per QST.

1939 The Cubical Quad. Clarence C. Moore, W9LZX, tackles the problem of Ecuador S.A.station HCJB. The missionary staion had used a gigantic four element parasitic beam at their 10KW, 25 meter station. Totally unexpected, was the effect of operating the high-Q beam antenna in the thin evening air of Quito. The 10,000 foot thin altitude caused gigantic corona discharges from the tips of the driven element and directors. The ends of the antenna dripped molten metal. Moore designs an antenna with no ends that could discharge. This concept evolved into designing a folded dipole with the loop pulled open. This loop later became the basis of the Quad design.


From Jeffrey Herman, KH6O

This will give you some background on amateur radio's CD communication effort during WWII:

What follows is a summary of the War Emergency Radio Service (WERS). Information was gathered primarily from "Fifty Years of ARRL," an historical record of the League and amateur radio.

First a bit of background: In 1939 there were 51,000 US hams. In September of that year war came to Europe. Of the 250 DXCC countries, 121 of them immediately went off the air (including Canada and the UK). The US maintained the strictest sense of neutrality. This was re-enforced by the ARRL, which came up with a neutrality code for amateurs. Hams were asked by the ARRL to voluntarily abide by the code, which they did en masse; this earned additional support for the amateur radio service in
governmental circles.

In an effort to streamline its operation in preparation for possible US involvement in the war, the FCC at this time introduced multiple-choice tests.

By June 1940, the US invoked the Telecommunications Convention prohibiting US amateurs from contacting hams elsewhere; at the same time all portable and mobile operation below 56 MHz was banned (except the ARRL Field Day). At the request of the ARRL, the ban was modified to allow the League's Emergency Corps to continue work on the lower frequencies for training and drills. All licensees were required to send a set of fingerprints, a photo, and proof of citizenship to the FCC.

The FCC needed 500 radio operators to man listening and direction-finding stations -- they asked the League's assistance -- the League put out the word in QST and within days of that issue, the FCC had the 500 operators it needed. (It's important to note for the duration of the war, the military and government always turned to the ARRL when radio operators and equipment were needed; the League would put out the call in QST and over W1AW, and the quotas were always filled in short order. Of the 51,000 hams mentioned above, 25,000 enlisted, and 25,000 remained at home to teach radio and electronics, serve in the communications industry, and serve in WERS.)

By June of 1941, tubes and other components were in short supply; each time the military asked hams to donate parts, they were flooded with whatever was needed. Many US hams were recruited for a Civilian Technical Corps to operate and repair British radar equipment. Also at this time, the Office of Civil Defense, at the offering of the ARRL, created a CD communication system with ham radio as its backbone (this relationship between between CD and ARS exists even today). Because the Army needed the 80 meter amateur band, the FCC gave hams 40 meter phone privileges for the first time, to make up for the loss of 80 (prior to that, 40m was a CW- only band.)

December 7, 1941, the US entered the war; hams were immediately ordered to go QRT. By special FCC order, the ARRL's W1AW was to continue its transmissions.

At the request of the ARRL, the War Emergency Radio Service (WERS) was created in June 1942. The Government Printing Office was inundated so the rules for WERS appeared only in QST. At the League's insistence, the FCC continued to offer amateur licensing throughout the war; this to provide standards for WERS applicants, and more importantly, to enable amateurs to prove their ability before enlisting in the armed services.

The purpose of WERS was to provide communications in connection with air raid protection, and to allow operators to continue their role in providing communications during times of natural disaster as they'd been doing as hams (WERS was not part of the amateur service, but was manned by hams; non-amateurs were permitted to serve in WERS in low level positions). WERS was administered by local CD offices; WERS licenses were issued to communities, not individuals.

WERS operated on the former amateur 2 1/2 meter band (112-116 MHz) and on higher frequencies. Again, WERS was not part of the amateur service but hams were asked by OCD to join -- and they flocked to it. Until the end of the war, if a ham wanted to operate he could only do so as a WERS operator. QST fully supported WERS by publishing technical articles on building WERS gear and modifying existing 2 1/2 meter ham equipment so as to meet the rigid WERS standards. Nearly every issues of QST contained WERS articles - two examples:

Oct. 1942: WERS operating procedures; how to train auxiliary (non-amateur) operators; and Feb. 1943: OCD's plan for selecting frequencies.

A sample of WERS operations: May and July 1942 -- communications support  for flooding of the Mississippi and Lake Erie; 1944 communications support after an Atlantic Coast hurricane; 1945 -- Western NY snowstorm early in the year, spring flooding, and a September Florida hurricane.

After VJ Day in 1945, hams were given authorization to begin operating again on the 2 1/2 meter band, on a shared basis with WERS. WERS was terminated in mid-November. By the 15th of that month, the FCC released bands at 10, 5, and 2 meters for amateur use. The post-war era of amateur radio had commenced.

Thanks Jeffrey Herman, KH6O

1940 - Doc Stuart, W6GRL, worked AC4YN, for 40th zone.  QSL not received till after WW II.  Doc Stuart had eight rhombics on beach property in Ventura.  Three prewar confirmed WAZs are ON4AU (QSO AC4AA in 1927), G2ZQ & J5CC.

1940 - With the advent of the War in Europe, by June 1940, the US invoked the Telecommunications Convention prohibiting US amateurs from contacting hams outside the USA. Also all portable and mobile operation below 56 MHz was banned. All licensees were required to send a set of fingerprints, a photo, and proof of citizenship to the FCC.

As the USA enters WWII in 1941, Amateur Radio Operation is suspended. Amateurs form a valuable pool of trained technicians and operators and are in high demand by the Military. By 1942, there was about 15,000 Amateurs in the US Military. But there is a WERS10 (War Emergency Radio Service) on 2 1/2 meters (around 2,000 Amateur Stations participated).


1942 During WW-II, Rommel's Afrika Corps used 27-29 MHz for short range tank communications.  Confused SWL'ers (I believe in Virginia and Georgia) finally figured found out what they were listening to.  The US Gov't set up listening stations to relay the info back to Patton.  Short range in a pig's eye!

1941 - 1945. Skilled code operators on either side could distinguish the enemy operators by the CW swing or style of 'fist", thus in many cases identifying the ship or station location. Post war records indicate the Japanese were monitoring US Navy VHF from long distances -- VHF was thought to be limited to line of sight. Code breakers in England in a massive project "Ultra" could recognize German operators from their CW swing, cliques and habits.  Indeed it is reported that the British developed the first programmable computer, containing 1500 vacuum tubes, to break the German codes. This preceded the American EINIAC Electronic Computer of 1945.

1939 - 1945 World War II movies are full of radio equipment of the time, look for the National, Hallicrafters, RME's etc.

1942 Navajo Code Talkers took part in every assault the U.S. Marines conducted  in the Pacific from 1942 to 1945. Their unique code language totally confounded the Japanese Radio Operators.

1942 British mathematician and science fiction writer Arthur C. Clark suggests using satellites to relay  radio signals about 20 years before the first satellite, Sputnik I was placed in orbit! 

 On November 15, 1945, amateurs are allowed back on the air -- but only on 10 and 2 meters. By 1946, Amateurs get most of the bands back except for 160 Meters, this was used by LORAN and other services and was not available to Amateurs. Over the next several decades 160M would be reopened, a little at a time.

1945 - onwards - Equipment Manufactures (some earlier, some later) included: Tons of War Surplus, Knight Kits, Central Electronics, Hammarlund, Collins, Drake, Multi-Elmac, Swan, E.F. Johnson, Galaxy, Gonsett, Hallicrafters, Heathkit, National, Henry - See RadioDan, RME, Meissner, Lafayette, B&W, Millen, RACAL, MacKay, EICO, Breting, Marconi, McMurdo Silver, World Radio Labs, Harvey Wells, Ameco, Astatic, Clarostat Eldico, SBE, Shure, Simpson, Sonar, Squires-Sanders, Stancor, Adams, Elenco, Lakeshore, Morrow, Kenyon,Thordarson,UTC, Philmore, ElectroVoice, Vibroplex, Bud, Tecraft, Mosley, Cornell Dubilier, Amphenol,Bliley, Telex headphones, Cannon Trimm, Burgess, Everready, Willard, Atlas, Murch, Paco, Alliance, Clegg, Midland, Conar, Sprague, James, M.C. Jones, Telrex, James Knight Crystals, TMC, Penwood Clocks, American Bell microphones and headphones, Jackson, Brush, Mytron, KDK, Pierson Holt, Tempo, KLM.

MORE FROM BAMA Via K4XL (see the mirror if down)

Aero ] Aerovox ] Alda ] Alliance ] Alpha ] Ameco ] Ameritron ] Amp Supply ] Antenna Mart ] [ Astatic ] Astron ] Autek ] AVO ] Babcock ] Ballantine ] B&K ] B&W ] Bird ] Boonton ] Breting ] Browning Labs ] CDE ] Central Electronics ] Clarostat ] Clegg ] Collins ] Comdel ] Conar ] Dentron ] DeVry ] Dow Key ] Drake ] DX Engineering ] Eddystone ] Eico ] Eldico ] Electro Voice ] Elenco ] Elmac ] Elmax ] EMC ] EZ-Way ] Funke ] Gates ] Galaxy ] GE ] Geloso ] Gonset ] GR ] Gross ] Hallicrafters ] Hammarlund ] Harris ] Harvey Wells ] Heath ] Henry ] Hickok ] Howard ] HP ] Hy-Gain ] Industrial Inst. ] Jackson ] James ] Johnson ] Kenwood-Trio ] Knight Kit ] KW Electronics ] Lafayette ] Lakeshore ] Lysco ] Mackay Marine ] Magnum 6 ] Marconi ] MBLE ] McMurdo-Silver ] Measurements ] Meck ] Meissner ] Mercury ] Microwave Modules ] Military Test Gear ] Millen ] Morris ] Morrow ] Mosley ] Murch ] National ] NRI ] Northern Radio ] Nye Viking ] P & H ] Paco-Precision ] Palomar ] Panoramic ] Philips ] Pierson-DeLane ] Pilot ] Racal ] Radiomarine ] RCA ] Readrite ] RFT ] RME ] SBE ] Scott ] Sencore ] Shure ] Siemens ] Sigma ] Silver-Marshall ] Simpson ] Sonar ] Sprague ] Squires-Sanders ] Stancor ] Star ] Superior ] Swan-Siltronix ] Tapetone ] Tecraft ] TMC ] Tornister ] Triplett ] Utah ] Waters ] Wayne-Kerr ] Weston ] WRL ] Yaesu ]

1945 - onwards - Favorite Radio Catalogs of the day -- every Ham had the latest copy: Allied Radio, Lafayette (also here), Burnstein- Applebee, Newark, World Radio Labs, Gotham Antennas, Fort Orange Radio, Radio Shack, Olson, Amateur Electronic Supply, Associated Radio, Digi-Key, Jameco, Poly-Paks, Fair Radio Sales, Dick Smith Electronics (Australian company),  Heathkit,  as well as Eitel-McCollough, Sylvania and RCA tube and design manuals. And the very first piece of amateur radio related mail that every new ham received...... a packet of QSL card samples and a catalog from "The Little Print Shop!"

1945 - onwards The Candy Stores. In San Francisco - San Jose,  one made pilgrimage to Quements, Sunnyvale Electronics, Red Johnson's  and HRO. In New York  there was Cortland street and Canal Street, where New York's famous Radio Row was located -- now beneath the World Trade Center. Also nearby Chambers St and Warren St, Harrison Radio used to be in that area also. In New Jersey, Vetsalco. In Chicago -- R&W and BC (Ben Cohen) Electronics as well as Newark Electronics and Allied Radio. For Los Angeles there was Figart's, Midway, on Venice Boulevard, and there was a row of surplus stores topped by THE electronics war surplus store of all time "Sam's Surplus, and of course Henry Radio See RadioDan. In the greater Boston area,  John Meshna, Jr.'s surplus emporium and Eli Heffron & Sons.

 In Albany N.Y.,  Fort Orange Radio owned by Uncle Dave Marks, World Radio Labs in Council Bluffs Iowa, Fair Radio Sales in Lima Ohio, Lafayette and Radio Shack in Wilmington, Delaware. In Tokyo Akihabara,  In San Diego, Coast Electric, Ashe & India, Shanks & Wright. In Detroit, M.N. Duffy, Reno Radio, RSE Ham Shack, Lafayette Radio, also surplus heavens, Silverstine's, and Lambrecht's. In the Washington, DC area the "Electronic Equipment Bank", better known as EEB, was the local Candy Store. In Waterbury, Ct, Bond Radio, later Hatry Electronics. Burnstein- Applebee in several locals .Also see Catalogs and Boatanchors.

1945 Parts manufacturers were Tubes: RCA, Amperex, Continental, Chatham, Eitel-McCullough, Electrons, GE, Heintz & Kaufman, Hytron, National, Raytheon, Sylvania, Taylor, Tungsol, United, Victoreen, Westinghouse, Western Electric. Rectifiers: Federal, Mallory, Sarkes Tarzian, Clarostst, Amperite. Meters: Triplett, Pyramid, Emico, Simpson. Controls and Resistors: Mallory, IRC, Clarostat, Centralab, Ohmite, Chicago Telephone, Sprague, Continental. Capacitors (condensers): Mallory, Cornell-Dubilier, Aerovox, Sprague, Erie, Centralab, Sangamo, Bud, E.F. Johnson, JFD, Hammarlund, Cardwell, Barker-Williamson,  Transformers: Stancor, Thordarson, Merit, Altec-Lansing, Peerless, Chicago, UTC, Superior, Raytheon, Sola, Regency.

1945 Just plain Radios included: Admiral, Airline, American Bosch, Andrea, Arvin, Atwater Kent, Audiola, Belmont, Capehart, Case, Colonial, Columbia, Crosley, Delco, Detrola, Dewald, Echophone, Edison, Emerson, Fada, Fairbanks-Morse, Farnsworth, Firestone, Freed-Eisemann, Garod, GE, General, Gilfillen, Goldentone, Grebe, Grunow, Gulbransen, Howard, Imperial, Jesse French, Kadette, Kennedy, Lyric (Wurlitzer), Majestic, McMurdo Silver, Midwest, Motorola, Northern Electric, Oriole, Oxford, Pacific, Packard Bell, Paramount, Philco, Pilot, Radiobar, RCA, RCA/Canada, Scott, Sentinel, Silver-Marshall, Silvertone, Simplex, Sonora, Sparton, Stewart-Warner, Stromberg-Carlson, Tiffany Tone, Travler, Troy, Truetone, US Radio, Wells Gardner, Westinghouse, Wilcox-Gay, Zenith. Lots of "All-American Fives" where the heater voltages added up to 117 Volts. Car radios had vibrators to develop plate voltages -- coupla hundred volts running around in your dash board!
As for TV's too many to mention but Mad Man Muntz stripped out the fat in current TV designs and were noted for being built with  few parts and cheap cabinets, unlike the big RCAs or Zeniths which had 30 or more tubes and elaborate designs. Crazy but the Muntz sets worked pretty well - as long as you could see the TV Tower!!

1945 Coaxial cable in wide use. Although coaxial cable had been around since the 30's, surplus cable was ready available and WWII did much to make coax practical. Prior to coax, ladder line was common. BNC connectors are used -- "bayonet Niell-Concelman" named for the inventors.

1945 - Amateurs are allotted the 6 meter band 50-54 Mc. The 2 1/2 meter band is moved to 144-148 Mc. With the exception of some FM, all phone operation is with AM.

1945 6 Meters. Pioneers utilized CW, AM, and experimented with NBFM. Antennas included rhombics, corner reflectors, folded dipoles, and of course Yagi's. The first 2-way QSO involving "skip" was  reported to have taken place on April 23, 1946 when W1LSN of Exeter, NH worked W9DWU of Minneapolis, MN. This and many other contacts were made on that night via a combination of aurora and sporadic-E. The distance of this contact was 1100 miles.

1945 CQ Magazine is published.

1945 Rhombic Antennas, although rhombics had been in use for years by broadcasters, Don Wallace, W6AM,  did much of the pioneer work for Amateur radio rhombics.. 

1946 The Northern California DX Club (NCDXC), one of the oldest DX Clubs, is founded. 
In San Diego, California, the SDDXC is also established. Many other DX and Contest clubs.

1946 - Yasme DXpeditions By Lloyd Colvin (W6KG - King George) and Iris Colvin W6QL (Queen Lady) - many Dxpeditions over the years into the 1990’s.

1946 - Amateurs make the first Meteor Scatter contacts. On the night of October 9, 1946, the night of the Giacobind-Zinner Comet, and its associated meteors, Amateurs made their first two-way contacts via meteor scatter on the 6M band, the propagation lasted 3 hours with reports from the east and midwest part of the USA. However it was not until Oct 22, 1953 that a 2M two way contact was made between W4HHK and W2UK. Transoceanic 6M contacts are made in late 1946.

After World War II, about 1946, the tenth call district was added. For the current USA Ham Districts - see USA Ham Map. Except for the redrawing of the boundaries, things remained the same until 1951. There were about 60,000 U.S. amateurs in 1946. Date not certain but after WWII, the FCC issues "military base calls" such as K9NBH and K9NCG (Treasure Island Naval Training Center, CA); KH6MC for the Marine Corps station on Oahu; K9NBH, Great Lakes Naval Training Center in Illinois. K calls are issued throughout the pacific see OLD PREFIXES

1947 -  Amateurs lose the top 300 kc of he 10M band (29.7--30), and relinquish the 14.35--14.4 Mc on 20 meters. However the 15 meters (21.0-- 21.45 Mc) is planned. Also the FCC allows Amateurs to use the 11 meter band (26.96--27.23 Mc) on a shared basis with other services.

1947 W1AW AND W2GDG conduct narrow band FM tests and the FCC authorizes a one year trial on some bands.

1947 - W1FH is awarded the first "modern" DXCC membership for mixed and phone.

1947 VK5KL makes a two way contact with  W7ACS/KH6 in Hawaii  - 9000 km, See 50 years on 50 Megs. 22

1947 - The DXCC country count for this year was 257. Gatti-Hallicrafters Africa Dxpedition - Nine Month Tour. QCWA is founded. The Quarter Century Wireless Association was organized to promote friendship and cooperation among Amateur Radio operators who were licensed at least a quarter century ago. The Old Old Timers Club was founded in 1947 by a group of amateurs who had played a part in laying the foundations of electronic communications.

1948 William Shockley invents the transistor. Within 10 to 20 years, the transition from tubes to solid state occurs. No longer will your cat want to sleep on the TV set!

1948  The. Military Amateur Radio System established, later renamed the Military Affiliate Radio System (MARS). Forerunners of this system existed such as the Army Amateur Radio System (AARS) organized in November, 1925. MARS is a Department of Defense sponsored program, established as a separately managed and operated program by the Army , Navy, and Air Force. The program consists of licensed amateur radio operators who are interested in military communications on a local, national, and international basis as an adjunct to normal communications.

1948 - VP7NG Bahamas - One of the first DX Expeditions. By W4NNN & Others in the 14th ARRL DX Competition. CQ sponsors its first contest  -- The CQ WW Contest.

June 1949, Citizens Radio Service was established with frequencies in the 460-470 Mc band.

1949, the US amateur allocations in Mc8
3.5-4 CW  3.85-4 Phone, Class A only 220-225 CW/Phone
7-7.3 CW 420-450 CW/Phone (50 watt power limit)
14-14.35 CW  14.2-14.35 Phone, Class A only 1215-1295 CW/Phone
26.96-27.23 CW/Phone (shared service) 2300-2450 CW/Phone
28-29.7 CW  28.5-29.7 Phone 5250-5650 CW/Phone
50-54 CW/Phone 10000-10500 CW/Phone
144-148 CW/Phone 21000-22200 CW/Phone

1950 -- US Amateur population is near 90,000

1950's -1960's Amateurs are active with Radio Teletype (RTTY) and take advantage of the surplus market for equipment. Also see RTTY is not dead but I still remember.

1951 CONELRAD10[CONtrol of ELectronic RADiation] system established by President Truman. See Amateur Requirement Also See
July 1, 1951, the FCC eliminated the old Class A, Class B, and Class C licenses, and added three new classes of licenses Novice, Technician, and Amateur Extra. Now the license classes were Novice, Technician, Conditional, General, and Amateur Extra Class licenses. Advanced licenses apparently came later. Novices could  get a one year, non-renewable license, which had a special 2x3 call sign with the letter N following the W, e.g.,  WN2ODC, WN6ISB. With an upgrade,  the N was dropped. The Technician Class is created for experimentation, not communication, and has privileges only above 220 Mc. Conditional licenses were the same as general but given by mail, provided the applicant lived far enough away from the nearest FCC office.

Novice - 5 wpm code test, sending and receiving. Simplified written test on theory and regulations. No experience required or allowed - anyone who had previously held any class of amateur license was ineligible for a Novice. Extremely limited CW privileges in parts of the 80 and 11 meter bands, plus CW and phone privileges on part of 2 meters. 75 (or was it 50) watts maximum power input, crystal control only. One year license term, nonrenewable. Exams given at FCC examination points or by mail if conditions for mail exams were met. The Novice was intended to be a sort of "learner's permit" to help new hams get started.8

For a complete history of the Novice License - See Novice Historical Society Home Page

Technician - 5 wpm code test, sending and receiving. Basic written test on theory and regulations - same written test as General class. All amateur privileges above 220 MHz. Exams given at FCC examination points or by mail if conditions for mail exams were met. The Technician was meant for those who were more interested in VHF/UHF experimentation than HF operating. The proposed Class D license was implemented as the Technician.8

General (old Class B) - 13 wpm code test, sending and receiving. Basic written test on theory and regulations.  Exam given at FCC examination points only. All amateur privileges EXCEPT 75 and 20 meter phone.8

Conditional (old Class C) - Same as General, except tests given by mail.8

Advanced (old Class A) - 13 wpm code test, sending and receiving. Basic and advanced written tests on theory and regulations. At least one year of experience as a General or Conditional licensee. Exam given at FCC examination points only. All amateur privileges. The Advanced was to be phased out and replaced by the Extra, and no new Advanced class tests were given after 1952. Holders of Advanced class licenses could renew and modify them indefinitely.8

Extra - 20 wpm code test, sending and receiving. Basic and higher level written tests on theory and regulations. At least two years of experience as a General, Conditional or Advanced licensee. Exam given at FCC examination points only. All amateur privileges.8
1951 W6SAI, W8AH and others are among the first of the post war major DXpeditions, Andorra and Monaco. W6SAI, Bill Orr inspired new and veteran hams alike with his consistent encouragement and technical expertise. Amateur radio has benefited from numerous Bill Orr publications, many on Antennas - written in a very practical style. For many years W6SAI wrote the monthly "Radio Fundamentals" column in CQ magazine.

1952--The FCC permits phone operation on 40 meters, previously CW only. The 15 meter band is opened. The Advanced Class is withdrawn, although present holders can continue to renew. The retest requirement for Conditionals was dropped in 1952.

1952 RACES founded, the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) is a public service provided by a reserve (volunteer) communications group within government agencies in times of extraordinary need.

1952 - 1956 SSB was making inroads on the ham bands. Central Electronics offered SSB gear in 1952. The Hallicrafters HT-30 was produced in 1954, The Collins KWS-1 transmitter was offered in 1955. So although perhaps not popular in the early 50's, the gear was available. Also See Ham Speak and Origins and Short History Of SSB

Early 1953  -- the FCC made a surprise about-face and announced that all amateur privileges would be granted to all holders of General, Conditional, Advanced and Extra class licenses. Novices got a place on 40 M.

Around 1953, the FCC was running out of W 1x3 call signs. So1x3 K calls began to be issued in the 48 states, with US possessions receiving 2x2 and 2x3 K calls. Novice calls in the 48 states continued to have the N (such as KN4LOD) which was dropped after upgrading. Had some reports of reissued calls about this time.

1953 Japanese VHF History A must read for VHFers.21

March 25, 1954 --  the first USA color TV sets made for consumers started rolling off the assembly line. Because they were initially too expensive and there was little color programming available, it took more than a decade for color television to become a household fixture. The RCA CT-100, introduced in March 1954, was the first mass-produced all-electronic color TV receiver. It's $1,000 price tag would be equivalent to about $6,000 in today's dollars.

1954 - VQ4ERR receives the first phone WAZ award.

1954 The Novice and Technician licenses became so popular that  the FCC made them available by mail only.  50 kHz of 20 meters was lost to other services. and the distance requirement for a Conditional license was reduced to 75 miles.

In 1955, Technicians are given 6 meter privileges. By 1956 there were over 140,000 US hams, and growth was exceeding 10,000 per year

160 meters was returned to hams in a very limited fashion. There was a complex chart describing amateur privileges, depending on geographic location. There were power limits based on location and time of day, ranging from 1000 watts to 25 watts. It was confusing, but better than losing the band altogether.

1955 - 1963 Danny Weil Dxpeditions - Starts from England and in 8 years gives contacts from 30 different countries including -- Canal Zone, Tahiti, Canton Island, Nauru, Solomon Is./Guadalcanal, Buck Isl/Tortola, Br.Virg.Is., Madeira, Aves, Buck Island, St. Kitts, Antigua, Montserrat, Anguilla, Dominica, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, Kingstown, Grenada, Trinidad, Jamaica, Baja Nuevo, Galapagos, Marquesa, Nukuhiva, Tahiti, S. Cook, Raratonga

The US amateur allocations in 19568

1.8-1.825 1.875-1.925 1.975-2 CW/Phone (Subject to geographic and power limitations)  (Technicians had all privileges above 30 MHz except 144-148) 3300-3500 CW/Phone
3.5-4 CW  3.8-4 Phone  Novices 3.7-3.75 CW 50-54 CW/Phone 5650-5925 CW/Phone
7-7.3 CW  7.2-7.3 Phone  Novices 7.15-7.2 CW 144-148 CW/Phone Novices 145-147 CW/Phone 10000-10500 CW/Phone
14-14.35 CW  14.2-14.3 Phone 220-225 CW/Phone 21000-22000 CW/Phone
21-21.45 CW  21.25-21.45 Phone Novices 21.1-21.25 CW 420-450 CW/Phone (50 watt power limit) All above 30000 CW/Phone
26.96-27.23 CW/Phone 1215-1300 CW/Phone  
28-29.7 CW  28.5-29.7 Phone 2300-2450 CW/Phone  

About 1956-1958, the FCC started to run out of 1x3 K and W calls in some districts and began re-issuing expired W and K calls before going to the WA's. For example, when K2ZZZ was issued, they went back and re-issued some expired W2 and K2 calls. Up until this point, a normal sequential call sign was always a 'first issue'. At some point, 1958 or so, perhaps when all available expired calls had been re-issued, the FCC began issuing 2x3 WA calls, then WB as necessary.  Novices were given WV instead of WN. The V would change to an A or B upon upgrading. A few years later, the FCC reverted back to the Novice N scheme. With the uneven amateur population in the ten call districts, it took time for the K calls to run out in the some areas. In some districts, K calls were issued as late as 1964.

1957 W6NLZ contacts KH6UK via tropospheric ducting. Two years later, they achieve contact on 220Mhz.

From 1957 to 1962 there existed a set of regulations commonly referred to by hams as Conelrad10 Hams were required to monitor a local broadcast station at intervals of 10 minutes or less whenever they were operating, and if the broadcast station went off the air due to an emergency, hams had to leave the air as well.

In September, 1958, the Class D Citizens Band is opened and Amateurs lost the shared use of 11 meters. USA Amateur population is about 160,000.

Late 1950'S -- Log Periodic Antennas --  the ARRL Antenna Book Chapter 10, written by L.B. Cebik, W4RNL, attributes the LPDA to D.E. Isbell at the University of Illinois in the late 1950s.

In 1959, Technicians get the middle part of 2 meters (145-147 Mc).

1960 - first two-way EME contact on 1296 MHz is achieved. See Earth-Moon-Earth Communications.

1960 - 1970 Gus Browning12 (W4BPD) The first DXer elected to the Dx Hall of Fame. Operated from over 100 countries. Dxpeditions included --- Seychelles, Somalia, Monaco, Aldabra, Cosmolédo, Assumption, Chagos, Burundi, Ruanda, Gough, Tristan da Cunha, Bouvet, Basutoland, Swaziland, Mauritius, Reunion, Juan de Nova, Comores, Madagascar, Tromelin, Glorieuses, Europa, Somaliland, Kamaran, Yemen, Aden, Bhutan, Tibet, Sikkim, Nepal, Afghanistan, Kuria-Muria, Pakistan, Laos, Thailand, China, Lebanon, Jordan, Faroer, Luxembourg, Togo, Dahomey/Benin, Mauretania, Volta, Mali, Venezuela, Senegal, Gambia, Rodriquez, Bertaut Reef, Etoile Cay, Boudeuse Cay, Kenia, Comores, Geyser Reef, Farquhar, Agalega, Blenheim Reef, Chagos, Aldabra, Geyser Reef. Gus learned to write left handed so he could send CW with the right.

1961 - December 12. First amateur satellite, Oscar1, is shot into orbit.

1961 - Present OH2BH Martti Laine one of the most accomplished DXers of our time. Only person to be elected to both the DX Hall of Fame and Contest Hall of Fame. Among his many DX operations were: 3CØAN, OJØMR, SØRASD, 4J1FS, BV9P, BS7H, P5/OH2AM, 6T1YP, ST2FF/STØ, JY8BH, ZA1A, XZ1A, 3D2AM, ZS9Z/ZS1, and XF4L. He has visited more than 115 countries.

1962 June 2, OSCAR II was launched. For a complete history of Amateur Radio Satellites and details of operation, see the AMSAT pages.

1962 - 1982 Geoff Watts12 only non-ham elected to the to the CQ DX Hall of Fame. Eminent British short-wave listener Geoff Watts was the founder and long-term editor (1962-1982) of The DX News Sheet, and in 1964 Geoff Watts created the IOTA (Islands-On-The-Air) Award.

1962 - 1967 Don Miller W9WNV12 Dxpeditions, So. Korea, Rota, Douglas Reef, Cambodia, South Vietnam, Western Samoa, New Hebrides, China, Indonesia, Burma, Thailand, Spratly Island, Ebon Atoll, Tokelaus, Cormoran Reef, Fiji Islands, Niue, Wallis Island, Minerva Reef, MariaTheresa, North Cook, Suvarrow Atoll, Heard, Australia, Laos, St.Peter & St.Paul Rocks, Navassa , Serrana Bank, Bajo Nuevo, Desroches Island, Farquhar, Comoro Island, Aldabra, Glorioso, Geyser Reef, Chagos Island, Blenheim Reef, Laccadives, India, Norfolk Island, Mauritius, Quatre Bornes, St.Brandon (Cargados Carajos Shoals), Raphael Isl., Rodriguez, Cocos-Keeling, Malagasy Republic, Nelsons Island. 

Over the years, many of the well known DXers include:  K2GL, KH6IJ, G3FXB, OH2BH, W8IMZ, W3GRF, W3GM, W4BPD, W1WY, W2PV, W3AU, K3ZO, W9WNV, W4KFC, W7RM, W1BIH, PY5EG, W6QD, N6TJ, S50A, N6AA, K1EA, OH2MM, K4VX, K3EST, W6RR, ON4UN, LU8DQ, K1AR, N4MM, VP2ML, W6AM, KV4AA, W1FH, W6RGG, W6RJ, W1CW, W6ISQ, W6OAT, W6KG, W6QL. Many of these were inducted into the CQ DX Hall Of Fame. Editor Note , Use search engine to find more information on these famous DXers.N6AW suggests W8CRA & W6GRL could be added to this group.  In the 30's, 40's,  50's & 60's they were very well known. Side note N6AA & N6TJ are talented & well-known contesters, however, you will never hear them in a DX pileup.

Other notables in the field of Amateur Radio besides those mentioned throughout are: K7UGA, US Senator Barry Goldwater, staunch Amateur radio advocate;W1ICP, Lew McCoy, writer, antenna expert; W1FB, Doug Demaw, writer; W2NSD, Wayne Greene, editor; W4RNL, L B Cebik, program developer; K6STI, Brian Beezly,  program developer; W7EL, Roy Lewallen, program developer; KH7M, Jim Reid, propagation expert; W3WRE, Louise Moureau , historian; W1BB, Stu Perry, low band pioneer; W3HNK, Joe Arcure, preeminent QSL manager and many Celebrity Hams.

1963  The E.B.S. - Emergency Broadcasting System is established .23

In 1963, the CBers outnumber the Ham Population. The number of US hams exceeded 250,000.

From the 1963 Novice Study Guide: "Requirements for the Novice license are the passing of a code test in sending and receiving at the rate of 5 words per minute, and a written examination in the most elementary aspects of amateur regulations and theory. The privileges which are currently available to the Novice licensee are: 3700 3750 kc. - telegraphy, 7150-7200 kc. - telegraphy, 21,100-21,250 kc. - telegraphy 145-147 MC. --telegraphy or voice. In addition, the transmitter used by a Novice licensee must be crystal-controlled, and may not have an input exceeding 75 watts. Of course, the Novice may operate portable or mobile on any of these frequencies. Thus a Novice not only is unable to renew his license at
the end of his term, but he may not again apply for Novice privileges."

1964 Alaskan Earthquake Magnitude  9.2., one of the worst in US History, Hams are key elements in communications as they have always been.

1964 - Geoff Watts12 created the IOTA (Islands-On-The-Air) Award.

1960's - 1970's Equipment design is changing rapidly, solid state equipment is offered and many transceivers are SSB. For an excellent paper on equipment evolution as well as Ham Radio History -- see 50 Years of US Amateur Radio Licensing  by James P. Miccolis, N2EY. Items with the superscript 8 are from N2EY and have been incorporated into this history with permission. Examples of Radio Equipment of the past can be seen in the Antique Radio Section. Also see 1945.

Mid-to-late 1960's -- A bit of vintage ham radio history and the start of amateur repeater operation CLICK HERE

In 1967, the FCC announced Incentive Licensing and over the next 2 years, General and Conditional operators lost portions of the 75-15 meter phone bands, the Advanced Class is reopened to new applicants, Extra and Advanced Class operators get subbands on 80-15 and 6 meters, the Novice license term is extended to two years, however Novices lose their 2 meter phone privileges.

By 1968, amateur access to 160 meters was increased significantly. US hams got access to 1800 to 2000 kHz - but still subject to complex geographical and power limitations.

1968, May -- Hugh Cassidy WA6AUD publishes the West Coast DX Bulletin. His stories and use of "DX IS!" becomes legend. Stories of "The QRPer, Palos Verdes Sun Dancers, and Red Eyed Louie" can be found at K2CD's fine pages. 18-Jul-79 is Cass's last issue, however VE1DX continues the WA6AUD style -- at the K2CD site.

Late 1960's Amateurs start to build 6M FM repeaters and by the mid 1970's, many repeaters are in operation.

Effective Nov. 22, 1968 Incentive Licensing plan8

    Phase 1   Nov 22, 1968                     Phase II, Nov 22, 1969

Extra Class Only: (MHz):  
3.5 - 3.525 CW  
3.8-3.825 Phone  
7 - 7.025 CW  
14 - 14.025 CW  
21 - 21.025 CW  
21.250 - 21.275 Phone  
Extra Class Only: (MHz):
3.5 - 3.525 CW  
3.8 - 3.825 Phone  
7 - 7.025 CW  
14 - 14.025 CW  
21 - 21.025 CW  
21.25 - 21.275 Phone
Extra and Advanced Classes Only:
3.825 - 3.85 Phone  
7.2 - 7.225 Phone  
14.2 - 14.235 Phone  
21.275 - 21.3 Phone  
50 - 50.1 CW  
Extra and Advanced Classes Only:
3.825 - 3.9 Phone  
7.2 - 7.25 Phone  
14.2 - 14.275 Phone  
21.275 - 21.35 Phone  
50 - 50.1 CW  

As older hams became Silent Keys and the number of available 1x2 calls increased, the FCC instituted a program effective in 1968 whereby those licensed for 25 years and currently holding an Extra license would be eligible for a non-specific (sequential) 1x2 callsign. The length of time one needed to be an Extra was gradually reduced, until July 1977, when any Extra Class could apply for a 1x2.

1968 - The FCC authorizes SSTV in the Advanced/Extra Class subbands. Generals and
Conditionals are authorized later.

1969  First two-way amateur television contact between the U.S. and Europe is achieved. AMSAT (The Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation) is founded. AMSAT is a worldwide group of Amateur Radio Operators who share an active interest in building, launching and then communicating with each other through non-commercial Amateur Radio satellites. 

By 1970 there were about 270,000 US hams. Japanese Transceivers begin to make inroads in the Amateur Radio market

1970, November --  JA1MRS contacted W6ABN and WB6UYG on 6 Meters from History of VHF in Japan

By 1970 - The USA is starting to use the metric system more and more and Mc and kc is gradually replaced with Hertz -- MHz and kHz. Often asked is why kilo is not capitalized -- and its because K is for degrees in Kelvin.

1970 While many vie for DX the furthest with the mostest, QRP (low power enthusiasts) are challenged by the furthest with the leastest. The long-distance low power record is held by KL7YU and W7BVV using one MicroWatt over a 1,650 mile Ten Meter path between Alaska and Oregon in 1970. This is the equivalent of 1.6 BILLION Miles per Watt!! More QRP pages.

1972 The Northern California DX Foundation is established to assist in worthwhile amateur radio, DX and scientific projects with funding and equipment. Although the words "Northern California" still appear in its title, the activities of the Foundation are international in scope rather than regional. Also see NCDXF/IARU International Beacon Network.  AND  Early History Of The NCDXF Beacon Network.
Other DX Foundations and sponsors includes Chiltern DX-Club, Clipperton DX-Club, Danish DX-Group, DX Family Foundation,  DX-Lovers Foundation, EUDXF, French DX-Foundation, INDEXA, LADX-Group, LYNX DX-Group, Lake Wettern DX-Group, NCDXF, RSGB DX-Fund, and the Satellite DX Foundation. In addition, many DX Clubs sponsor member IOTA and DXpeditions. Radio manufacturers over the years have also generously donated equipment and support of DX operations.

1972 -- FCC expands the Technician 2 meter allocation to 145-148 MHz.  Novices operators are authorized to use a transmitter with a VFO, Date was around Nov 22, 1972. A national bandplan is announced for 2 meter FM , the national simplex frequency is established at 146.520 and the FCC released the first repeater rules. Logging requirements are relaxed.

In 1972, the FCC widened the HF phone bands which reduced much of the impact of incentive licensing.
1972 US ham bands

1.8-2 CW/Phone (Subject to geographic and power limitations)  21-21.45 CW  21.25-21.45 Phone  
Novices 21.1-21.25 CW  
Extra only: 21-21.025  21.25-21.27 
Extra & Advanced only: 21.27-21.35 
2300-2450 CW/Phone
3300-3500 CW/Phone
3.5-4 CW  3.775-4 Phone  
Novices 3.7-3.75 CW  
Extra only: 3.5-3.525  3.775-3.8   
Extra and Advanced only: 3.8-3.9 
28-29.7 CW  28.5-29.7 Phone  
Novices 28.1-28.2 CW
5650-5925 CW/Phone
7-7.3 CW  7.15-7.3 Phone  
Novices 7.1-7.15 CW 
Extra only: 7-7.025   
Extra and Advanced only: 7.15-7.225  
50-54 CW  50.1-54 CW/Phone 
(Technicians had all privileges above 30 MHz except 144-145)
10000-10500 CW/Phone
14-14350 CW  14.2-14.35 Phone   
Extra only: 14-14.025   
Extra and Advanced only: 14.2-14.275  
144-148 CW  144.1-148 Phone
220-225 CW/Phone
420-450 CW/Phone
1215-1300 CW/Phone
21000-22000 CW/Phone
All above 40000 CW/Phone

1972 Sept 9th, - The Palomar Amateur Radio Club in San Diego, CA received the coordination for their 146.730 all vacuum tube repeater on Palomar Mountain from the newly established Southern California repeater coordination body in Los Angeles at their first conference although the club had been successfully operating a test repeater in a garage in Vista during 1971. The duplexer was made from discarded shell casings obtained from a Navy Battleship.

1973 -  The waiting period for an Extra class license was reduced to a year.

1974 - WR prefixes began to appear on repeater callsigns.

In 1976 for the USA Bicentennial year there was a special callsign system that all hams could use as a option. W's became AC's, WA's became AA's, etc. Some of the Pacific islands and territories had some pretty weird calls (weird for that time, anyway.) Larry, K3LZ writes: "The K prefix was permitted to use the prefix "AD".  (If I remember correctly, WBs could use "AB".)  For the entire Bicentennial year, I used the call "AD3KPV" instead of my regular call (at the time) K3KPV". N6AW reports the published criteria for these calls were: WA = AA, WB = AB, W = AC, K = AD.  I was AB6PNB; received N6AW the following spring.

In 1976, the WN calls were eliminated. Around this time the FCC was issuing N 1x2 calls to extras. N6AW reports   I believe that these were first issued in mid-January, 1977. (N6AA, AR, AV, CW, ZZ, etc).  My call was issued mid-March, 1977.

Effective July 1, 1976, any Extra class licensee who had been a licensed Amateur for 25 years or more could select one specific 1x2 call sign. This added the ability to pick a specific call, but did not change eligibility.

Effective October 1, 1976, anyone who had held an Amateur Extra class license prior to November 22, 1967, could select one specific 1x2 call sign.

Effective January 1, 1977, anyone who had held an Amateur Extra class license prior to July 2, 1974, could select one specific 1x2 call sign.

Effective April 1, 1977, anyone who held an Amateur Extra class license prior to July 1, 1976, could select one specific 1x2 call sign.

Effective July 1, 1977, any Amateur Extra class licensee could select one specific 1x2 call sign. Effective March 30, 1978 this was all replaced by the strict "sequential" system until the advent of "vanity" call sign selection in  March 24, 1995. Ho
Lee - K0WA reports that the vanity call signs were cut off on December 31, 1977 (if I remember correctly). I earned my Extra that summer and debated on whether or not to change the call.  I decided to do so on December 24, 1977.  I had called up the Midwest Director, who at the time, kept a list of calls that were open.  He had a friend at the FCC who faxed him a list each week of what calls were still open.  At the time, you could ask for a call on a first come first serve basis.  I sent in the application with 12 calls typed on a plain piece of paper attached to the application.  I sent it air-mail!  I called in the middle of the week to the FCC if my application had gotten there and they told me it had, but would not tell me anything else.  Just under the wire.  I got my present call which I was surprise to see that it was open.  Great CW call. 73 Lee K0WA.

Extras continued to be permitted to select a call, in sequence, from any call sign group. That ability was not extended to other licensees until later. N9AKE reports -- when the FCC announced that Extras could ask for a new call in any group (around August, I think), I asked for a Group C call and received N9AKE, which I held until 1996, now K4QG.

By 1977 there were 327,000 US hams. Portable and mobile identification requirements were eliminated, "instant upgrades" became available, and license fees were abolished. The code sending test was waived and repeater rules were simplified further.

1977-- A new repeater subband is established at 144.5-145.5 MHz. Technicians are given privileges on144.5-148 MHz, and have Novice privileges. All hams were limited to 250 watts in the Novice subbands. Novices can operate with power up to 250 watts. The mail order Technician license is eliminated and new applicants must appear before the FCC. The Conditional class is abolished. The waiting period for an Extra class license was eliminated.

1978 saw the Novice license term extended to 5 years and made renewable, the Conditional class license abolished (existing Conditionals became Generals), and secondary station licenses were abolished. ASCII and other standard data codes were authorized for amateur use.  Technicians got all privileges above 50 MHz. WR repeater callsigns are phased out. Prior to this time, when a ham upgraded, the privileges of the new license class could not be used until the actual license arrived in the mail - usually six to eight weeks after the test was passed. "Instant upgrading" ended the wait by allowing hams to immediately use their new privileges by adding a "temporary identifier" at the end of their call, which would signify that they had recently upgraded. No more waiting weeks for the actual license to arrive in the mail.

By the mid 70's some call areas ran out of WB callsigns. The FCC recycled older WA and WB calls (but not consistently). Then at the FCC's whim or maybe when the recyclables ran out, they issued WD#xxx calls. WC was reserved for RACES/ Civil Defense stations.

In 1978-1979, Technicians receive all privileges above 50 MHz. Novice licenses are renewable. The World Administrative Radio Conference, (WARC-79) grants Amateurs three new bands at 10, 18, and 24 MHz, to be phased in over the next 10 years. 30 meter power to be limited to 200 Watts. In 1978 the FCC banned the manufacture and sale of amplifiers that could be used in the 24-35 MHz region, but a licensed amateur could still homebrew an amplifier, or modify a manufactured one to cover 10 meters. Hams were limited to one amplifier per year, however.

Somewhere in this period (late 1970s),  the requirement to change callsigns when moving to a different district was removed.  No longer could a US ham's location be determined solely by the callsign. W3HF Note This actually happened in the late 70s, coincident with the new callsign system you discuss under 1978-9. (This was significant to me at the time. I had received WA2FKS while in college in 1976. When I got my license, the old rules were still in effect. But by the time I graduated in 1979, they had changed, and I could take WA2FKS with me to California.) My 1976 License Manual, for example, states that when moving from one district to another, you would get a new callsign.  N6AW reports I believe that this was instituted in 1977.

Somewhere in the late 70's, (1977) 2x2 A calls were issued to extras, e.g.,  (The method of issuance is uncertain -- some requested specific callsigns were issued -- others sequential). They were added as an option to 1x2's for any Extra class licensee when the 2nd, 4th and 6th call area ran out of 1x2's. When the "any call you want" rule went away, so did 2x2's beginning with "A". This didn't last long see 2x1's below. (Note from W3HF -- 2x2s actually first showed up in 1977. I have AA4AA and AA4US in the Winter 77-8 book, under "Stop Press." I think these were some of the last callsigns issued under the old pseudo-vanity program for Extras, before that was terminated in 1978, as they came out before the 2x1s.  N6AW reports I believe that these were first issued in early 1977.  AA6AA, Steve Oreland, had one of the earliest ones issued.  His buddy, Alan, K6YRA would know the exact date.


Before March 28, 1978,   extra applicants received the 1x2 calls still available. After March 28, 1978, Section 97.51  required amateur station call signs to be issued systematically. Extra applicants received an A prefixed 2x1 callsign e.g., AA6E which was issued 5-26-1978, AA6H about June 7, 1978, AA6G in May 1978,  AA6I on June 13, 1978. Depending where in California the test was taken. AA2E issued 5/26/78. AC6V was licensed 7-20-1978 at 2:30 in the afternoon!

Later this is extended to 2x1 K, N, W calls, (In that Order) e.g., KA6A issued 11/24/78,  NU8I,  August 1986, NX7U early 87, WA6H  issued 4-9-79. Here you can see variations in dates due to some districts running out of a block well before others.

2x2  K calls were given to Advanced class and 1x3 N calls were allotted to Generals and Techs. When the 2x1 extra calls ran out, (in 6 land around 1994), the FCC started the 2x2 A calls e.g., AC6HZ. When the N#xxx calls ran out, they started the KA#xxx series. The structure was: 
From an 1978 FCC News Release: (Thanks To Jim N4AL)
Group A contained all 1x2, most 2x1, and most "A" prefixed 2x2 callsigns
Group B contained most K, N, and W prefixed 2x2 callsigns
Group C contained all 1x3 callsigns
Group D contained most K and W prefixed 2x2 callsigns
Group E contained WC, WK, WM, and WT prefixed 2x3 callsigns.
This applied to the contiguous US. Territories had different rules.
Hams could request an upgrade from a lower group to a higher one.
Generally, Extras were entitled to Group A, Advanced to Group B, and Generals and Technicians to Group C. 
Calls were assigned within groups in sequence of blocks. Block 1 was K#xx, block 2 was N#xx, block 3 was W#xx, block 4 was AA#x, block 5 was AB#x ... These were followed by 2x1's beginning with K, 2x1's beginning with N, 2x1's beginning with W, 2x2's beginning with AA through 2x2's beginning with AK. Then came with Group B.

In Group A (Extras), the sub groups were 1x2 (not issued systematically subsequent to 1978), 2x1, 2x2 (beginning with AA#xx through AL#xx, the limit of the U.S.'s "A" allocation, [AM belongs to Spain] --  See Prefixes). AL reserved for Alaska and AH for the US Islands.

In Group B (Advanced's), the subgroups were all 2x2 beginning with Kx#xx, Wx#xx, Nx#xx. (the Kx series may never have been completed in any area). It was the slowest moving of the groups.

In Group C (Generals and Techs), the subgroups were all 1x3 with W#xxx (not issued systematically subsequent to 1978), K#xxx (not issued systematically subsequent to 1978), and N#xxx.

In Group D (Novices), all 2x3,  starting out with KA#xxx, sequencing through KB#xxx, KC#xxx, etc.
For Amateur Radio, the NAA-NZZ block was used for various reasons before they were issued sequentially. In the 1930s, N-prefix calls were issued to amateur stations supporting Naval Reserve activities. NY4 appears in the 1947 DXCC Country list as Guantanamo Bay, The Smithsonian Institute had  NN3SI around 1976. The Jet Propulsion Labs had a lot of special calls in the 70's (N6V was a special event station operated by the W6VIO crew at JPL). N calls and A calls were used by MARS since ______, (MARS was formed in 1948) currently in the form of AFA#xxx for the US Airforce, NNN#xxx for the US Navy, and AAA#xxx for the US Army. There have been posts about early N0xxx MARS calls. N1 thru N9 reserved for Aircraft.

1970's - 1980's Amateurs begin too use computers like the Amiga, Commodore, Apple, and TRS-80 to calculate various formulas. Software is written for Ham use. Later when the transceiver manufacturers incorporate microprocessors, computers are used to control the transceiver and beam rotors. Programs for Satellite Tracking are invaluable for operation. Today, programs for tutoring morse code, gray line, logging, digital modes with the sound card, and contesting are widely used.

1978 - Amateur packet radio began in Montreal, Canada in 1978, the current TNC standard grew from discussions in October of 1981. As packet becomes popular with amateurs, digipeater nodes are built and the DX Packet Cluster is born. Previously DX announcements were made by voice on 2M repeaters.

1980's After nearly 80 years of antennas on roof tops and with the advent of cable TV, city, county, HOA's, CC&R's and other restrictive ordnances begin to limit or prohibit Amateur antenna installations. In 1985, PRB-1 is issued that establishes the FCC's position of "reasonable accomodation."

1980's   King Hussein, JY1, who was a life member of the ARRL, avidly promoted Amateur Radio in Jordan and was an enthusiastic radio amateur whose support was invaluable in obtaining new amateurs bands at the1979 World Administrative Radinference. Also for some surprises --  Famous Hams

1980 ASCII computer code is authorized for amateur transmissions. Two new digital data modes, AMTOR and packet. Both became popular - AMTOR on HF and packet on VHF. AMTOR eventually gave way to PACTOR and other digital modes. See Digital Modes. The current popular mode is PSK31.

1981 FCC authorizes spread spectrum (SS) on amateur frequencies. Limited to 100 Watts. Actress Hedy Lamar (Hedwig Kiesler) co-patented a frequency hopping "Secret Communication System" Aug. 11, 1942 as a way to keep the Germans from jamming radio controlled torpedos during World War II. See Spread Spectrum.

1981 CQ Magazine starts the CQ DX Hall Of Fame.

1982, Oct 28, 2200 UTC - The USA gained access to 10.100-10.109 and 10.115-10.150 MHz, the original 30 meter WARC band.  Some countries already had privileges on the band before the USA.

1983 Cellular phone network starts in U.S. Hams wonder what took them so long!

1983  The 1000 watts input  rule was replaced by a new "1500 watt peak output" rule. This meant that hams could run more power in most modes, but a few modes, like AM, actually lost power.

In 1984, the 10 year license replaces the 5 year term. The FCC begins to phase out of giving Amateur exams. A Volunteer Examiner Program is started , but there was an overlap period where the FCC gradually eliminated their involvement.

1985 - the 24 MHz and 902 MHz bands are opened for Amateur use. The 10 MHz band was allotted permanently, previously open with restrictions.

In 1987, Novices and Technicians receive 10 meter SSB privileges from 28.3-28.5 MHz.  The FCC mandates the 1500 Watt PEP limit for amateur radio station power output.

The amateur allocations in 19878
1.8-2 CW/Phone (Subject to geographic and power limitations) 

144-148 CW  144.1-148 Phone

3.5-4 CW  3.775-4 Phone  
Novice/Techs 3.7-3.75 CW   
Extra only: 3.5-3.525  3.75-3.775    
Extra & Advanced only: 3.75-3.85

220-225 CW/Phone  Novices 222.1-223.91 CW/Phone

7-7.3 CW  7.15-7.3 Phone  
Novice/Techs 7.1-7.15 CW  
Extra only: 7-7.025   
Extra & Advanced only: 7.15-7.225 

420-450 CW/Phone

10.1-10.15 CW

902-928 CW/Phone

14-14.35 CW  14.15-14.35 Phone  
Extra only: 14-14.025  14.15-14.175   
Extra & Advanced only: 14.175-14.225 

1240-1300 CW/Phone Novices 
1270-1295 CW/Phone

21-21.45 CW  21.2-21.45 Phone  
Novice/Techs 21.1-21.2 CW 
Extra only: 21-21.025 21.2-21.225 
Extra & Adv. only: 21.225-21.3

2300-2310 CW/Phone 2390-2450 CW/Phone

24.890-24.990 CW  24.93-24.99 Phone

3300-3500 CW/Phone
5650-5925 CW/Phone
10000-10500 CW/Phone
24000-24250 CW/Phone

28-29.7 CW  28.3-29.7 Phone  
Novice/Techs 28.1-28.5 CW 28.3-28.5 Phone

47000-47200 CW/Phone
75500-81000 CW/Phone
119980-120020 CW/Phone
50-54 CW  50.1-54 CW/Phone    (Technicians had all privileges above 30 MHz) 142000-149000 CW/Phone
241000-250000 CW/Phone
All above 300000 CW/Phone

1988 - TheGMDSS system was established in 1988 by the International Marine Organization, a United Nations agency that oversees international shipping safety, and it was required to be on all passenger ships and cargo ships over 300 tons and all commercial ships that travel in international waters by today. This signals the end of morse code by both commercial and the military.

1989 -- The last of the WARC bands 17M becomes available in January 31. There were over 500,000 US Amateurs.

In 1991, no-code licenses -- and the No-Code Technician is born. Technicians with code requirements are now Technician Plus. Since existing Techs had Novice HF privileges and new Techs would have only VHF/UHF, another semi license class, the Technician Plus, was created. Existing Technicians, and those who passed the 5 wpm code test, became Technician Plus class.

1993 The US Coast Guard discontinues monitoring 500kHz as the International Distress Frequency, largely replaced by GMDSS. Use of 500 kHz dates back to 1905.

About  March 24, 1995, Vanity calls for a price was opened up. See URL: FCC Ruling. Several "gates were set up for eligibility over the ensuing 18 months. The ARRL's suggested method is to open the system gradually through four "starting gates." Gate One would allow a previous holder to apply for that call sign or, where the holder is deceased, a close relative could apply. Gate Two would allow the 66,000 Amateur Extra Class operators, who have passed the most difficult license examinations, to apply. [Extras could apply for a vanity call in September 1996]. Gate Three would allow the 112,000 Advanced Class operators, who have passed the second most difficult license examinations, to apply. Gate Four would open the system to any licensee. A club station license trustee could also apply for the call sign of a deceased former holder.

1997 January 1st the E.A.S., Emergency Alert System goes 'on-line' in broadcast  stations - replacing the aging technology of the E.B.S. - the Emergency Broadcasting System.23

1998 1999 -- USA Amateur population exceeds 740,000, Japan has almost twice as many. 

1999 -- Many CW stations are closed after decades of service. The Globe Wireless stations, the last coast stations in North America to use Morse, closed down their Morse operations on Monday, 12 July, 1999.

April 15, 2000 -- Latest Amateur Radio License Scheme

Reduction of the number of license classes from six to three and eliminating the 20 and 13 WPM code tests, only three license classes are now issued --Technician, General, and Amateur Extra--and a single Morse code requirement--5 WPM. No new Novice and Advanced licenses to be issued. Licenses prior to the effective retain their current operating privileges, including access to various modes and subbands, and will be able to renew their licenses indefinitely. Starting April 15, 2000, individuals who qualified for the Technician class license prior to March 21, 1987, will be able to upgrade to General class by providing documentary proof to a Volunteer Examiner Coordinator, paying an application fee, and completing FCC Form 605.

Under the new licensing scheme, there is four examination elements. Element 1 will be the 5 WPM Morse code exam. Element 2 will be a 35-question written test to obtain a Technician license; Element 3 will be a 35-question written test to obtain a General license, and Element 4 will be a 50-question written test for the Amateur Extra license.

Technician Class with no Morse code are authorized to use all amateur VHF and UHF frequencies
(all frequencies above 50 MHz). See Bandplans

Technicians with 5 WPM Morse code are authorized to use all amateur VHF and UHF frequencies (all frequencies above 50 MHz) and HF frequencies with limited power outputs on the 80, 40, and 15 meter bands using CW, and on the 10 meter band using CW, voice, and digital modes. See Band plans

General Class. In addition to the Technician privileges, General Class operators are authorized to operate on any frequency in the 160, 30, 17, 12, and 10 meter bands. They may also use significant segments of the 80, 40, 20, and 15 meter bands. See Bandplans

Extra Class. Extra Class licensees are authorized to operate on all frequencies allocated to the Amateur Service. See Bandplans

2001 Many Old Timers still active on OT Nets and QCWA nets. For information, contact Jim Palmer W6FOB, president of section 75, QCWA.  E-Mail: 

Feb 2001.  Amateur Radio history was made this month when amateurs in Canada and the UK completed what appears to be the first two-way transatlantic Amateur Radio exchange on 136 kHz. Larry Kayser, VA3LK, and Lawrence ''Laurie'' Mayhead, G3AQC, managed the LF feat using extremely slow CW that featured 90-second-long dits and 180-second-long dahs. The two-way contact took two weeks to complete!

 2003, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) ratified changes to the Radio Regulations to allow each country to determine whether it would require a person seeking an amateur radio operator license to demonstrate the ability to send and receive Morse code.

15 Dec 2006  New USA Band Allotments -- See ARRL Page

Feb 23,  2007 All Morse code testing requirements for US hams were eliminated.


1917 - about 6,000

1977  - 327,000

1928 - about 17,000

1989 - over 500,000

1936 - about 46,000 

1997 June  -  678,473

1950 -  near 90,000

2001 Jan 1  - 682,240 

1956 - over 140,000

2002 Oct 31 -- 684,355

1958 - about 160,000

2007 March 18 -- 652,984
1963  - over 250,000  


The History of Amateur Radio 
From Luxorion -- Nicely Done and Illustrated

QRZ.COM has an old callsign lookup section -- 1993 edition.


Sources and Excellent Reading
4United States Early Radio History  15 Compilation Of  FCC Amateur Radio Statistics
5WayBack Time Machine (dead ink) 16 Dawn Of Radio in The UK and Europe
6Irving Vermilya -- America's #1 Amateur  17 History of the Radio Club of America, Inc.
18 UKSMG Six Meter News Archives
850 Years of US Amateur Radio Licensing  19. Deleted
9 Deleted 20 Fessenden and the Early History of Radio Science
10Ham Radio History Mail List Archives 21 History of VHF in Japan
11 Deleted 22 50 Years on 50 Megs
12 23 A Chronology of Communication Related Events
13 Deleted 24 Kentucky Farmer  Invents Wireless Telephone! By Bob Lochte
14World Of Wireless  25. Deleted


Compiled From Numerous Sources By AC6V 1979--2004
HTML CODE Copyrighted 1998 - 2004





  This Page Last Updated: July 8th, 2010