History Of The Ham Radio

History of the HAM Radio

This post has been updated for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas 2019

HAM radio is a form of radio that has a rather interesting history, not to mention a fascinating modern cultural position. In one way or another, HAM radio has been around since the discovery of radio waves by Heinrich Rudolph Hertz in 1888.

This is a place where people can try out their musical stylings or their skills as a presenter or DJ. It’s a useful way to communicate with a local area – such as a town – and it can even be used for exciting observations of space and celestial bodies.

HAM Radio: How it Works

Radio waves work across certain bands and frequencies affecting the electromagnetic field that covers the entire Earth. This allows for communication on certain channels which can be broadcast to an entire country.

However, one limitation of this system is that only one person can affect that frequency in a given area at any one time. If multiple people try to communicate on the same band, then the frequency will become jammed and no one will get through.

That’s why regulation is required in order to keep certain channels free for specific uses – such as emergency radio or even just television broadcasting.

HAM radio exists on specific channels in the UHF range, that have been set aside as ‘free to use’ for anyone. That said, a lot of HAM radio will still require a license for other frequencies.

Where it Came From and Where it is Going

The history of HAM radio runs parallel with the history of radio in general.

From the 19th century, wired telegraphers begin setting up their own interconnected systems. This developed into the wireless telegraphy of the ‘Hertzian wave’ years later. And by 1901, magazines such as Amateur Work were sharing tips on how to build simple radio systems.

The first commercial available devices were sold around 1905 to experimenters and amateurs.

This period saw a boom in the popularity of amateur radio, with the newness of the technology being a huge draw for those that wanted to try something exciting and reach a large audience.

By 1910, the mania had led to numerous issues with radio interference and jamming – and this was when the USA passed the Radio Act of 1912, following the sinking of the RMS Titanic. This would restrict private stations to a certain bandwidth.

Come WW1, all amateur radio was prohibited in order to prevent information leaks and to allow seamless communication between allies.

But between wars, this communication would continue and in 1921 American ‘hams’ issued a challenge to UK hams to try and receive communications across the Atlantic. Throughout this time and for many years later, amateur radio operators were required to demonstrate morse code proficiency – in case they stumbled upon a message from an emergency radio!

Morse code testing is no longer required, and indeed it is much easier to obtain permits or to communicate on free channels today. Only in North Korea is there still a blanket ban on ham radio.

Ultimately, ham radio has been somewhat replaced by the internet – which provides an easier form of amateur broadcasting and communication. The allure of ham radio today then is partly in its relative obscurity.

Ham radio today has the appeal of an underground movement or a secret society – and there is something extremely exciting about broadcasting to a group of likeminded people who have the knowledge and technical expertise to be listening.

Image Source: http://www.arrl.org/ham-radio-history