Technical Writing

Although the mainstream press frequently covered advancements in radio, QST was one of the few published sources of practical, technical information available to amateurs. The articles would present enough technical detail to be useful but were written to be understood by most amateurs and therefore were more accessible than papers in professional journals. Prominent researchers in radio engineering, such as Edwin Armstrong and Frederick Terman, were also amateurs and published articles in both communities. In the first technical article to … Continue reading

Humor, Poetry, and Rotten Rants

Humor played a prominent role in QST from its first issue, born of the evident joy hams derived in pursuing their passion for radio. The first curious attempt, in the first issue, two pages from the back cover, was not an article at all but a reprinted letter. It had been sent in by a Japanese radio student, identified only as Kathis Kathan, of Hynacus, who attempted to ask a technical question in painstaking, but painfully broken English—the main source … Continue reading

A Patriotic and Dignified Effort

ARRL membership was free in 1915; QST would be a new and separate entity. With a mixture of enthusiastic optimism and a strong belief in the necessity to organize hams across the country, Maxim and Tuska were confident enough of the magazine’s future to risk some of their own money (mostly Maxim’s, one would think) to get it rolling. The state of the world and the country at this point made such optimism a little difficult to muster. In fact, … Continue reading

QST at the Beginning

The membership had long perceived the need for a regular bulletin of some kind, but the League lacked the funds needed to jump-start it. So, as before, the 46-year-old inventor and businessman Maxim teamed up with 19-year-old Trinity College student Tuska to publish the first few issues themselves. They had already funded the initial printing of the list of stations and other materials. Sometime in early December 1915, the first issue of a new “Amateur Wireless Magazine” went from the … Continue reading

Getting Organized

A growing number of clubs across the country, especially in and around cities, continued to spur interest in amateur radio. One of them, the Radio Club of Hartford in Connecticut, held its first meeting on 14 January 1914, and would soon play a larger role than most in amateur radio history. Local businessman and engineer Hiram Percy Maxim was among the group in Hartford that evening. Already a prominent radio amateur, he operated a one-kilowatt station, with call sign 1WH, … Continue reading

The First Regulations

The air began to fill with signals from military, commercial and amateur transmitters. By mid-1904 the Navy had established 20 coastal stations to make special broadcasts and communicate with 24 wireless-equipped ships. Perhaps a hundred or so high-power amateur stations were also operating in the US at this point. Companies started to be established around 1908, many based on wild claims impossible to satisfy, which therefore fed public skepticism about radio. But as the business environment stabilized, companies consolidated and … Continue reading

The Squeak Box

Among pre-teens, mostly boys took to radio.1 At its simplest, radio was affordable. Boys could buy or make parts to build simple receivers and even low power spark transmitters. Typically, a kid would hook together a crystal receiver using a metallic mineral such as galena, scraps of used wire and a set of headphones, perhaps the most expensive component. This basic receiver was not much more than a rock, some wire and a telephone receiver. But it was magic! A … Continue reading


Technologies that change the world often arise from the work of people whose passion and imagination were ignited by the wonder of something entirely new to human experience. Radio is one example. Before there were radio engineers, scientists were the professionals paid to spend their time studying and experimenting with radio. People who spent their own time and money to do the same thing were by definition amateurs, but were no less passionate, no less imaginative than their professional peers. … Continue reading