Six Segments, Sans Spark

For nearly a year, hams had been operating in their first assigned band of wavelengths, 150 to 200 meters. They had also been experimenting below 150 meters by special government permission, dramatically demonstrating the effectiveness of the shortwaves with the first transatlantic two-way contacts, and marking the birth of international amateur radio. But why, they wondered, had the government designated the spectrum below 150 meters as “reserved?” Clearly that was a temporary state of affairs. What would come next for … Continue reading

Crossings IV—The Reply

It had been a one-way affair.  In the successful transatlantic tests of December 1921, North America transmitted and Europe listened, along with a lone transplanted North American. Now it was time to try it in both directions, though still not in complete QSOs. In October 1922 the ARRL announced that another round of transatlantic tests would be run in December, with preliminary trials from 25 October through 3 November.1 This time the test would include British, French and Dutch amateurs. … Continue reading

Broadcast Boundaries

Despite several attempts, no successor to the outdated 1912 radio law had yet emerged. Now it could wait no longer since things had changed so radically with the rise of broadcasting—“well over a half-million receiving stations in the country, some sixty broadcasting stations, and rumor has it that there are some five hundred applications for broadcasting pending in the department of Commerce,” wrote Warner.1 Companies were trying to control access to the airwaves too; AT&T, for example, was formally requesting … Continue reading

What is an Amateur?

As the number of phone broadcasts exploded in late 1921, radio amateurs and the ARRL were ambivalent about it. On one hand, the great increase in the number of people owning receivers was a good thing—radio technology was being embraced by the general public. On the other hand, the shared airwaves were getting even more crowded. There were now thousands of broadcast stations operating, both commercial and amateur. Furthermore, a fuzzy line separated amateur from non-amateur that had nothing to … Continue reading