Stray Signals

A Century Of Amateur Radio And The ARRL:

A Century Of Amateur Radio And The ARRL:


The ARRL Letter

January 16, 2014


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A Century Of Amateur Radio And The ARRL:

After Guglielmo Marconi proved the feasibility of radio communication
in 1901, three distinct groups of radio experimenters and stations
appeared: The US Navy, commercial operators, and Amateur Radio
operators, derisively called “hams” (meaning bad operators) by
commercial and Navy operators. Early hams took up the name with pride!

Soon there was chaos in the ether, as hams interfered with commercial
and Navy stations. To curb that problem, Congress passed the Radio Act
of 1912, requiring all amateurs to get licenses and to operate at
wavelengths of 200 meters or shorter, spectrum considered worthless at
the time.

When hams first began to pass message traffic, the typical ham
station’s range was measured in tens of miles, or a few hundred miles
for the best-equipped stations. So hams would relay messages from
station to station until they reached their destination.

One night in April 1914, Hiram Percy Maxim, 1WH, in Hartford,
Connecticut, was unable to contact a station in Springfield,
Massachusetts, to send a message. Maxim reached another ham at the
midway point of Windsor Locks, Connecticut, and that station
successfully relayed the message to Springfield.

This event made Maxim realize that there should be an organization to
promote smooth and reliable message relays. In April 1914 he presented
his thoughts to the Radio Club of Hartford, which agreed to sponsor the
activity, using the name Maxim chose — the American Radio Relay
League. In February 1915, the ARRL separated from the HRC, and
incorporated as a nonprofit entity.

By March 1915, it became obvious that a publication was required to
disseminate information to the 600 relay stations on the ARRL’s roster.
Maxim and Clarence D. Tuska (HRC Secretary) privately funded the first
three issues of QST to meet that need. The first issue was published in
December 1915. Next: A look through QST’s first issue.


The ARRL Letter

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