Strays – Perspectives on Amateur Radio, 1930

As the decade of the 1920s drew to a close, amateur radio was an internationally recognized user of the public airwaves, although the view of individual countries around the globe varied from enthusiastic support to complete prohibition. The American government was solidly among the former. Uncle Sam Loves His Hams The 1927 law provided a process for appealing decisions of the Federal Radio Commission. In one such appeal by commercial concerns seeking additional allocations, the commission wrote a lengthy response … Continue reading

Two Contests

In the fall of 1929, mounting interest in another message handling contest prompted a repeat of what ARRL Communications Manager F. E. Handy dubbed an “International DX Contest” like the one held in February 1928 that had been so popular.1 Since there had been both worldwide and US- and Canada-only events, there were many proponents for each kind. So, Handy and the others in the Communications Department decided that both would be held this time. Today, test is considered shorthand … Continue reading

Ramifications: Regional Fine Tuning and Phone

In addition to the many issues raised during the arduous process that led to the new radio law, amateurs worried about concentrating too much power with the secretary of commerce. Even though Secretary Hoover had been a strong advocate of amateur radio, he would eventually leave the job, and what would the next secretary do? No one anticipated that Hoover’s next job would be to replace his boss. Herbert Hoover was inaugurated as the thirty-first President of the United States … Continue reading

Stability, Accuracy, Purity – The “1929-Type” Station

Hiram Percy Maxim long considered precise frequency control to be the biggest challenge in amateur radio.1 All at once it was set to become everyone’s concern when the new international treaty would take effect in 1929. “As we climb up into the super frequencies, as we do when we use forty meters and below, frequency precision becomes a problem of the first magnitude,” he wrote in Summer 1928. But he was certain that amateurs could devise new techniques and figure … Continue reading

Family Harmonics

Amateurs could anticipate at least some of the effects of the recently concluded 1927 Washington Convention that would occur in the coming year. Call signs would be changed, and nations around the world would allocate bands adhering to the convention’s guidelines. Most importantly, there was about to be a rush by commercial interests to claim new frequencies in the short waves.1 The newly freed portions of former amateur bands would be in highest demand since they had not previously been … Continue reading

Third Parties

Since message traffic was a contentious issue at the 1927 international convention, the League’s General Counsel and Rocky Mountain Division Director, P. M. Segal, 9EEA, analyzed the new law 1 and international agreements, and offered his opinion about the nature of the amateur operations they permitted.2 The amateur designation had different meanings in sports and radio, he began. In sports, an amateur could lose that status by getting paid just once—amateur and professional were mutually exclusive. But in radio, an … Continue reading


Amateurs in the United States had waited years for a new legal and regulatory structure for radio as they watched, witnessed and withstood an arduous, frustrating legislative process. In summer 1927, just as they were absorbing the impact of the new radio law, an international conference was set to convene in Washington. No one knew what to expect. In principle, it could all be thrown up in the air again were the US to be a signatory to a new … Continue reading


Amateurs had been operating radiotelephone on the 80-meter band between 3,500 and 3,600 kHz since it had first been permitted in late 1925.1 To do so they had to return their licenses to their local radio supervisor for endorsement. On the 150-meter band, phone already dominated operation. And as the broadcasting boom continued, phone’s popularity grew as a specialized pursuit for some amateurs on both bands. For others it was a source of QRM since every phone allocation shared space … Continue reading