Armstrong in QST

At age twenty-nine and already one of the most well-known radio engineers in the world, Edwin H. Armstrong was a veteran of the great war, and the president of the Radio Club of America. He was also professor of electrical engineering at Columbia University in New York City, where the R.C.A. was based and met regularly. Later recognized as one of the most important inventors in radio, Armstrong embodied the close relationship between amateur experimenters of the early years and … Continue reading

New Hams (F.)

While somewhat greater in number than before the war, women hams were still regarded by other amateurs with a mixture of curiosity and amusement. Nevertheless, even before the war several were already experienced as telegraph operators and had become prominent in message handling as amateurs. Coincident with the closing down of amateur activity for the war, an editorial in August 1917 announced that “The Ladies are Coming,” reporting that “several hundred of the fair sex” were now among the brethren, … Continue reading


Finally, nearly one year after the armistice, a breakthrough: A single, tacked-on page, after the end cover of October QST, a hastily added special announcement proclaimed:  “BAN OFF! THE JOB IS DONE AND THE A.R.R.L. DID IT. See next QST for details” The HR Hick cover drawing for the November issue depicted a joyous ham bursting from the top of a can, popping off the lid (which, just to make sure the metaphor was understood, is labeled “the lid”)—he clutches … Continue reading

Naval Maneuvers

Despite the political and regulatory-control disputes between amateurs and the Secretary, the Navy well understood how much it had benefited from all the trained amateurs ready to volunteer for service during the war and the likelihood of needing them again someday. In August the Navy announced it would begin broadcasting test messages containing weather information and text for code-copying practice at 15 and 25 words per minute every night on 476 meters from NAJ, the Great Lakes station, “in order … Continue reading

Waking Up

As amateur stations fell silent, the airwaves continued to carry commercial and military signals, many from the fingertips of former radio amateurs. But despite their contributions there were some in government who still sought to limit or eliminate the use of wireless by private individuals. As the battles ceased in Europe, amateur radio came under renewed attack at home. Bills introduced in both houses of Congress shortly after the armistice sought to turn control of all use of radio over … Continue reading

Shut Down and Called Up

With ham radio shut down completely by the war, The Old Man was back the following month with an article titled simply “Rotten !!” which is what he thought of the closing of amateur stations, finding that he no longer had anything to do in the evenings.1 What was the harm, he asked, in allowing us to at least listen? One compensation for him had been an increase in the activity (meetings) of the local radio club. Despite the good … Continue reading

The Lid

As it seemed ever more likely that the US might enter the war in Europe, radio amateurs speculated about their own role. Referring to it as “the disturbance,” a late-1916 QST editorial noted that the president had activated the National Guard and that Signal Corps units had been particularly prominent in the call-up.1 One Connecticut amateur, David Moore, 1ZZ, a member of his state’s unit and one of the original governors of the ARRL, related his experience: “The attitude of … Continue reading


As 1916 drew to a close, Maxim made a plea to organize what might be the first round-trip relay across the country.1 The February Washington’s Birthday test had demonstrated relaying a message to the entire country broadcast-style, beginning in the Midwest.  This one would be more difficult: a message originated on the East Coast would be relayed across the country, arrive at a West Coast station where a reply would be sent, which would then be relayed back to the … Continue reading