Welcome!  This is a tour of amateur radio history, beginning around the turn of the last century. It unfolds blog-style in periodic installments or chapters.

This table of contents is useful whether you’re new to this site or have been following it for a while.  It presents stories in chronological order. The Chapters page lists the same contents but with the most recent first, proceeding backward in the order in which they were posted (which is also nearly always historically reverse chronological order). The site reads best chronologically, but you are welcome to jump in at any point. Reading in random order might get confusing, though, since some installments refer back to events described in earlier ones.

If you’re new here, the best way to start is to begin at the beginning with the Introduction, followed by the Prologue. At the top of each page are links (at left and right) to the next and previous posts in the sequence.

Chris Codella, W2PA, author
John Pelham, W1JA, editor
Phil Johnson, W2SQ, editor

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Table of Contents

Introduction – An introduction to the site and how to use it.
Prologue – Background and intent

Part One (ca. 18861917)

Beginnings – The first amateurs
The Squeak Box – Kids with keys
The First Regulations – The end of free range hams
Getting Organized – Collaboration extends range to a continent
QST at the Beginning – A new amateur wireless magazine
A Patriotic and Dignified Effort – Relevance to the nation, public service
Humor, Poetry and Rotten Rants – It’s fun too
Technical Writing – Professionals and amateurs, sometimes the same
Spark Radio – The damped wave
Aerials, Attachments, and Audibility – Wires, gaps, and phones
The Audion – The third electrode’s the charm
The Relay’s the Thing – A blueprint for passing messages
Trunk Lines – Cross-country paths and star stations
Cooperation and QRM – Sharing the air
Regulations and Enforcement, Hard and Soft – A process forms around the 1912 law
Strangely Behaving Signals – Propagation is more complicated than it seems
Transcons – Relaying across the country and back.
The Lid – The war puts an end to amateurs’ operations
Shut Down and Called Up – Hams are off the air at home, then back on overseas

Part Two (ca. 19181923)

Waking up – Hams begin to return home from war
Naval Maneuvers – Amateur radio comes under renewed threats
Liberty – The ban on operating is finally lifted
New Hams(F.) – The “fraternity,” not
Armstrong in QST – Scientist, engineer…  amateur
Freaks – What makes signals fade?
QSS Tests – Hams and the Bureau of Standards seek an answer.
Spark to CW – Renewed experimentation and an inexorable trend
Radiotelephone – Beginnings of phone transmissions and broadcasts
Strays—The Twenties Begin
Transcons at Record Speed – The air falls silent as hams run for records
The Chicago Plan – Urban hams get rowdy – a model of cooperation results
Crossings – The first amateur radio transatlantic tests (in three parts)
Crossings I—Aquitania
Crossings II—Ardrossan
Crossings III—Accolades
What is an Amateur? – Distinguishing transmitting from broadcasting
Broadcast Boundaries – A first national radio conference
Twenty-two in ’22 – Allocations to accommodate broadcasting
Crossings IV—The Reply – This time, Europe transmits too
First Band, Top Band – Amateurs are assigned a band of wavelengths for the first time

Part Three (ca. 1923–1930)

New Circuits – Improving receivers for shortwaves
Transpacifics – Reaching all continents
High Latitudes and Low Wavelengths – Amateur radio in the arctic
The Fourth Time’s the Charm – The first QSOs across the ocean
Call Sign Confusion – Amateurs cope with an absence of national prefixes
Scooped – Hams set new records on shortwaves, and WNP returns
Onward, Downward – Experimenting with shortwaves accelerates
Call and Card – The CQ and the QSL
WWV – Hams get help calibrating
Six Segments, Sans Spark – New bands, new regulations
April in Paris – An international amateur radio organization is formed
DX Records and Shortwave Reflections – A flurry of DX firsts, all on shortwaves
Army Vacation or Navy Cruise – Hams collaborate with the US military
North Again – This time with Reinartz and shorter wavelengths
Strays – Traffic, 200, and 20
Rare International Sport – the first DX contests
Wireless in Washington – Finally, a new law and bands
Wabbulation – Phone, and problems with frequency control
Treaty – International agreement on radio allocations
Third Parties – How is message traffic defined under the 1927 law?
Family Harmonics – Band allocations narrow under US and international regulation
Stability, Accuracy, Purity – The “1929-Type” Station – A new generation of equipment
Ramifications – Regional Fine Tuning and Phone – Effects of the 1927 law continue
Two Contests – The precursors to two present-day big ones
Strays – Perspectives on Amateur Radio, 1930 – The US, Maxim, Warner, and XYLs