As vacuum tubes were making CW practical, they were also making voice transmissions possible. Experimental broadcasts using radiotelephone—or just “phone” to hams—began as experiments by amateurs and some of the wireless telegraph companies, including Marconi and DeForest. In these early years of radio, just having a receiver to listen to the limited number of phone broadcasts was sufficient to be regarded as a radio amateur. The Marconi Wireless Telephone was demonstrated publicly for the first time on 12 June 1916.  … Continue reading

The Audion

Vacuum tubes revolutionized radio, changing it more than any other single invention. When first introduced, however, even the scientists and engineers working with them did not fully understand how they worked. One of the first tubes to appear in QST was the Audion, by DeForest. Although it had been introduced back in 1905, it was expensive and amateurs did not begin to use it until seven years later, when 22-year-old Edwin Armstrong demonstrated its practical use as a regenerative detector. … 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