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.

Guide to Readers

If you’re new to this site, you’ve started in the right place.  The Contents page where you first came in will take you through the history in chronological order—a good place to look first when you return. After this Introduction, the best post to read next is the Prologue, which describes the purpose and background of the site. At the top of each page are links, at left and right, that take you to the next and previous installments in the sequence. (Since this Introduction is the first one, this page only has one such link at the upper right pointing to the Prologue.)

These are only suggestions—you are welcome to jump in at any point. But reading in random order might get confusing since some postings refer back to events described in earlier ones.

The Chapters page lists the same installments but stacked in the order in which they were posted, most recent first (which is nearly always historically reverse chronological order). This listing also displays brief beginning excerpts from each chapter so you can see a bit of what it’s about or find your way back to something you read before.

Once you have read all the current postings, you can check back periodically and easily notice when a new chapter has been posted by looking to the right under “Recent Posts” to see if anything new has been added to the top of the list—or simply subscribe to the site (see below under “Subscriptions”).

The search box at upper right is useful for finding snippets of text anywhere on the site. If you can’t remember where you read something but do remember a few words or a phrase, this is the place to go. It can also be useful for finding material about a certain topic.

Mobile Devices

When you use a small mobile device, such as a smart phone, the site re-formats the pages to make reading and navigating easier on smaller screens. You’ll notice a difference in how the menus operate, and the text should be more readable than if you were looking at the full format.  Also, a button labeled “Reader” appears in the address area at the top.  When you tap it, the display changes to look more like an e-reader, uncluttered by Web site controls, displaying only the main text with a larger font that is adjustable in size. If you want, however, you can switch to the full format and back again using the icons at the top or bottom of each page. (The “Reader” mode works whether or not you’re viewing the site using a mobile device.)


The posted chapters are extensively referenced to original published materials. These references appear as clickable footnotes like this one1 in the text. When you click on a footnote number in the text, you’ll be taken to the corresponding footnote at the bottom of the posting. For some of these the original source QST article can be found in the ARRL on-line archives (you must be a member and logged in to the ARRL Web site to access the archives).

Each footnote ends with a back-link that looks like this: ↩. Clicking the back-link returns you to where you left off reading.


You can subscribe to the site (for free, of course) and individual updates to postings and comments via RSS, using one of the readers available, many for free. The link on the Contents page subscribes you to the main feed, including all postings; this is useful for keeping up to date on new installments. The link on at the bottom of an individual posting subscribes you to comments about that posting alone; this is useful for following a specific comment stream. Most browsers and feed readers should work.  If you find that it doesn’t, check to see that you have any required plug-ins or add-ons for your particular browser. Google’s Chrome browser, for example, requires an RSS plug-in that isn’t present in the basic installation.

New Chapter Notifications

You can also receive a notification that a new chapter has been posted by following @RadioW2PA on Twitter.  There may be other tweets there not pertaining to this site but related to radio.

Posting Comments

If you would like to comment on any of the installments, you will need to register for a user ID and then log in with it. Registration is easy and free but isn’t immediate.

Due to spam user ID creation problems, I’ve disabled the automatic registration function. you’ll need to email me in order to register.

You’ll receive an email when it takes effect. Your first comment is moderated (delayed for review) but subsequent ones will appear automatically. Of course, if you just want to read, no registration or logging-in is necessary. If you are an amateur radio operator, please use your call sign as your user ID if you register.

Comments or questions you post should usually pertain to what you’ve just read, and contribute in some way to the understanding of the story. For example, perhaps you would like something clarified. Or maybe you have some additional information about something in the posting that readers might be interested in. For anything that wouldn’t be of general interest to readers, please send me an email instead.

Guidelines for Commenting:

  • Please post comments in the specific chapter (installment) to which they apply.
  • Please observe proper netiquette. (There are plenty of other places on the Web for debating and shouting.)
    • If in doubt, please email me first.
  • That’s it!

Problems, Questions, and other Correspondence

Please email me (w2pa at with any questions about the site or comments you otherwise wouldn’t post to a specific page.


With gratitude, I recognize several ham radio friends who contribute time and effort to this Web site.

I hope you enjoy the tour.

Chris, W2PA

  1. This is a footnote.

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