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The History of Amateur Radio


These landmarks refer to the page where the subject has been developed (shortly or in extenso).

Page 1 : The time of discoveries

900 BC : Homer Odyssey deals with strange beauty of amber

100 BC : Pline the Elder speaks of a strange property of amber able to attact small objects

1700s: Coded messages are sent with an optical telegraph, or semaphore

1835 : Birth of Morse and Q code

1844 : Samuel Morse invents the telegraph and the straigh key

1858 : First transatlantic cable laid down between Europe and the U.S.A.

1861 : Civil War in USA and use of telegraphy by the Army

First fisheries telegraph service in Norway (and of Northern Europe in 1906)

1866 : New transatlantic cable laid down between Europe and the U.S.A.

Guglielmo Marconi by 1900.

Page 2 : Birth of ITU

1852 : The first submarine telegraph cable is laid across the English Channel

1859 : Bern Convention

1865 : Birth of the International Telegraph Union (future ITU). It is constituted of 20 Member States

1866 : Works of Mahlon Loomis

1872 : Death of Samuel Morse

1873 : Edison invents the incandescent lamp 

1880 : Oliver Heaviside patented in England the first coaxial cable

1883 : Edison invents the vacuum tube

1887 : Hertz discovers the electromagnetic nature of waves

Page 3 : Marconi, Time for business

1894 : Marconi succeeds the first wireless transmission over the Bristol Channel

1895 : Marconi inventes the spark gap transmitter working on wavelenghts between 250 and 550 meters

1897 : Marconi creates The Wireless Telegraph & Signal Company Limited 

1898 : Leslie Miller publishes the first description of a simple-to-build transmitter and receiver for an amateur audience. 

1900 : Marconi takes his famous patent No.7777 for "tuned or syntonic telegraphy"

1904 : J.A. Fleming creates the first vacuum diode

1906 : Lee de Forest creates the Audion of Old, the first triode

1910 : First wireless transmission in Belgium by Paul de Neck, ON4UU

Page 4 : Ham, the poor operator

Aparte: Origin of word "Ham" (the poor operator), as well as two other possible origins

1910 : Birth of Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA), the first national radio society in the world

1911 : Birth of the first Wireless Club in the United Kingdom (future RSGB)

There are 10,000 amateurs in the USA, as many or almost in the United Kingdom and probably as many in all Europe and Russia together.

1912 : The Titanic Tragedy (745 survivors on 2340 passengers)

Radio Act initiated by Senator Smith

1913 : Edwin H. Armstrong fed back vacuum tubes and get an amplification up to 2000 times

Page 5 : The American Radio Relay League

1912 : First telegraph stations in Belgian Congo

First radio prefixes made of two or three letters

1914 : Hiram Percy Maxim founds the ARRL and QST magazine

Amateur radio becomes a service in the U.S.A.

The Great War. No amateur activity until 1920

1918 : Armstrong creates the superheterodyne receiver

1922 : Armstrong creates the superregenerative receiver (including an oscillating detector)

Page 6 : The 1920s. The discovery of HF and DX communications

1920 : First taxes on radio licenses (Belgium)

1921 : Birth of Radio Magazine (future CQ Magazine)

First one-way transatlantic amateur wireless communication (USA-Scotland)

1922 : Birth of RSGB

1923 : First two-way transatlantic amateur wireless communication (USA-France)

First assignation of K and W prefixes

1924 : Creation of CCIF

First belgian radio club and foundation of the Réseau Belge some years after

1925 : Creation of CCIT and IARU

Repeated QSOs on 5 meters

First amateur segment in the 75-cm band (400-401 Mc)

1926 : Birth of JARL

Birth of mobile activities

First US amateurs successfully work amateurs on five continents.

1927 : Creation of CCIR, FRC (future FCC)

ARRL organizes the first international DX-party, the precursor of international DX contests.

1928 : The ham spirit is defined by Paul M.Segal, W9EEA

1929 : ITU require that an additional national prefix be added to call signs

The Crash of Wall Street, the "Black Tuesday"

Page 7 : The 1930s. The Great Depression

1930s: The Great Depression but also non-stop progress

1930 : ARRL issue the WAC award

Jenskins, W1XK, broadcasts the first TV commercial

1931 : Lloyd Espenschied and H.A. Affel from AT&T patented in the USA the coaxial cable (invented in 1880)

1932 : Marcel Wallace's Panadaptor, the first spectrum analyzer

1933 : Quantum theory meet semiconductors, discovery of Nylon, electron microscope

1933 : Birth of SSB

First Field Day in the USA

1934 : TVI and first UK licenses

1936 : First experimental coaxial cable between New York and Philadelphia 

1938 : The War of the Worlds is broadcasted on radio by Orson Welles

Page 8 : Birth of Radioastronomy

1932 : Birth of radioastronomy, works of Karl Jansky, confirmation in 1936 by Grote Reber, W9GFZ

Creation of ARES by ARRL

1934 : First WAZ award issued by R/9 magazine. It prefigures the CQ WAZ award (1949)

1935 : Edwin Armstrong invents the FM radio

1930s: Drs. Hidetsugu Yagi and Shintaro Uda invent the Yagi-Uda antenna (the Yagi patented in 1940)

1935 : Invention of DXCC entities by Clinton B. DeSoto from ARRL HQ

1936 : Death of Hiram Percy Maxim, cofounder of ARRL and IARU

ARRL issue the WAS award

1937 : ARRL issue the DXCC award

Death of Marconi.

1939 : First CQ WW DX contest

Page 9 : The 1940s. All at war, single on sideband

1939 : World War II. Amateur activities suspended until 1946. Power rationing and "Système D"

1942 : ARRL releases a special Defense edition of the Handbook.

1945 : Atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagaski

Birth of CQ magazine and CQ WAZ award

1946 : Birth of Army surplus (called American Stock abroad)

FCC moves the 112-Mc band to 144 Mc, birth of 2-m band

First Meteor Scatter experiments on VHF

DX record on 6 m (16800 km, 10500 miles from Chili to Japan)

New HF and VHF licenses in France and Belgium

1948 : QST publishes a long article about SSB, warm reception

ITU at the United Nations. Move from Berne to Geneva. It is constituted of 150 Member States

Page 10 : The 1950s. The King Transistor

1950 : Bell Labs develop the first transistor

1951 : The junction transistor. DNA discovery

FCC creates three classes of licences : Novice, Technician and Extra

New licenses in Japan

1954 : First radio "transistor" sold by Texas Instruments

TRADIC, first transistorized minicomputer

1955 : World distribution of radio transistors by Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo (Sony)

1956 : TAT-1, the first Transatlantic Telephone cable is inaugurated

1958 : First integrated circuit made by R.Noyce from Fairchild Semiconductor

J.Kilby from Texas Intruments invents a similar chip

The good time of amateur radio

First SSTV and APT transmissions, intensive activity on VHF

Stories of rescue by amateurs, film "Si tous les gars du monde"

Page 11 : Echoes from Moonbounce to Sputnik

1953 : First EME echoes received by W4AO and W3GKP

1955 : Meteor Scatter and Stacked Yagis on VHF

1958 : Following the launch of Sputnik-I in 1957, first US artificial satellite, Explorer-I.

Discovery of Van Allen radiation belts

Birth of Citizen's Band

Birth of ARPAnet

ON4UB at the Brussels Universal Exhibition

1959 : Birth of CEPT

Page 12 : The 1960s. Megahertz and small steps

1960 : Standard weights and measures system changed for the International System

SSB becomes the standard operating mode

Shortwave avids : CB and SWL

First EME QSO on 1296 MHz

1961 : First amateur satellite OSCAR-1

Birth of electronic mail thanks to ARPAnet

1962 : Birth of 4U1ITU radio club

1965 : Arecibo radiotelescope test EME communications with hams

Amateur radio recession

1967 : New licenses in the U.S.A.

Release of the first code-less license to belgian amateurs working above 30 MHz

1968 : After the birth of SSTV in 1957 and vidicon in 1958, FCC authorizes SSTV

1969 : Apollo XI landed on the Moon

Creation of AMSAT

Page 13 : The 1970s. The FM repeaters

1970s: First FM repeaters

Development of EME on VHF and UHF bands. Use of professional facilities

1974 : AT&T provides the new L5 coaxial

First underground cabling network in Belgium

1977 : Packet radio is developed by the "Groupe de Montréal" (VE7APU, VE2EHP, etc)

1979 : New WARC bands, 30, 17 and 12 meters (no contest)

Page 14 : The 1980s. Computers, packet radio, and space

1981 : birth of the IBM Personal Computer (PC XT 5150)

Arecibo tests new EME communications with amateurs

1982 : AMTOR (SITOR-B) is developed by G3PLX

The first Terminal Node Controller (TNC) is developed by VADCG

Packet radio is granted by FCC

SAREX, ARISS, and amateur satellites

1986 : Birth of TP2CE, the Council of Europe's Radio Club

1989 : ARRL's petition about the code-free license over 30 MHz

Page 15 : The 1990s. Digital modes and Internet

1990s: Development of clusters and Internet

1990 : PSK31 is developed by Pawel Jalocha, SP9VRC, and Peter Martinez, G3PLX

PACTOR, Clover, Hellschreiber, MFSK16, THROB, G-TOR, MT63

Internet, the global village is created at CERN

1991 : FCC grants the long-awaiting code-free license to Technicians over 30 MHz

1994 : Creation of the International Broadcasting Bureau, IBB

Page 16 : Breakthrough of Japan know-how, HAREC, GSM and DRM

1990s: Breakthrough of Japan know-how, but some darks clouds

HAREC and CEPT recommendations

W5UN's DXCC on 2 meters EME

1992 : Birth of GSM

ITU adopts structural reforms

1998 : Low power and private mobile radio (LDP, PMR)

1996 : Hubmasters provide high speed packet radio (up to 1 Mps)

ITU adopts the first international standard for universal international freephone numbers (UIFN)

Birth of DRM, LPD and PMR devices as well as the first digital HF to SHF receivers

1999 : ITU becomes founding member of ICANN PSO

Page 17 : The 2000s : a new millenium, wireless and code-less

2000 : Development of Wi-Fi

AMSAT launches AO-40 on a Molnya orbit with video capabilities

Louis Varney, G5RV, is Silent key

2002 : Birth of Echolink developed by Jonathan Taylor, K1RFD

New novice license in the United Kingdom (W3). Belgium (ON2), Holland and Norway will follow. Warm welcome

2003 : Digital Radio Mondiale enter into force

First Walky-talky feature implemented in GSM

Page 18 : China is awake and WRC 2003

2003 : China is awake !

At WRC 2003 ITU decided to remove the Morse code examination to access HF bands.

Immediately after tens of national administrations grant to their VHF licensees access to HF bands

2004 : Oswald G. "Mike" Villard, W6QYT, "Mr SSB" is Silent key

Jack Kilby, inventor of the integrated circuit, is Silent key

2005 : First ham tourist in space

2006 : FCC eliminates the Morse code exam.

The future of communications (In addition)

Caught in the web (Internet)

GSM, the new radio access network

The digital amateur radio.

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