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Ham Radio History

Ham radio is a derogatory term which was first coined in the 19th century to mock amateur radio operators. This led to the common use of the term “amateur radio” to refer to ham radio as a wireless phone hobby for all ages and walks of life to communicate. The numbers of licensed ham radio operators has continued to increase and more emergencies have been attended to in desperate times when ordinary communication failed. Hams are usually allocated 26 bands spaced between 1.8 Megahertz and 275 Gigahertz allowing communication across towns, around the world or even receiving signals from the moon.

The first legal Act of ham radio was approved by Congress in 1912 and it mandated that operators were required to get an amateur radio license with a restriction of 200 meters. The American Radio Relay League was then founded in 1914 by Hiram Percy Maxim after he found that messages could be sent in a more reliable manner and over longer distances if only relay stations were better organized. This followed the transatlantic transmitting and receiving tests in 1921 before the two-way contact through the Moon in July 1960. Ham radio has grown to be a hobby that now registers the biggest number of licensed hams ever. Hams are truly at the cutting edge of many technologies and they also provide thousands of hours of volunteer community services. They also prove to be very efficient and reliable during emergency situations mostly when normal communications is overloaded or has gone down.

Ham Radio operators normally operate simple communications equipment with the ability to communicate across streets and around the world including communicating with people and satellites in space. This form of technology comes in handy especially when there is a major power cut and the telephones lines go off. Ham radio also provides the resources to design and build on the latest communications technologies.
Today, amateur radio operators get involved for many reasons and the law requires them to have a common basic knowledge of radio technology and operating principles. They are also required to pass the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ham radio license examination to enable them operate on radio frequencies which are known as the “Amateur Bands.” These bands normally radio frequencies that are reserved by the (FCC) for use by ham radio operators. The landline telegraphers were the first wireless operators and their use of wireless communication was influenced by their shifts from offices to the sea. This saw every other decade grow in the technology of ham radio due to the hobby nature of the service.

Until recently, ham radio operators were required by international agreement to demonstrate proficiency in Morse code to allow them access frequencies below 30 MHz; and in 2003 that the World Radiocommunications Conference (WRC) agreed to allow member states to scrap off the Morse code testing if they saw the need. Following the WRC agreement, in December 2006 the FCC ordered elimination of all Morse code testing requirements for all American applicants of the ham Radio License. This move which took effect in February 2007 has seen an increase in the number of licensed amateur radio operations in the United States. Other countries around the world have also made similar moves and the global number of ham radio operators had significantly increased.

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