History of Amateur Radio
Throughout the history of amateur radio, amateur radio
enthusiasts have made significant contributions to science, engineering, industry,
and social services. Research by amateur radio operators has founded new
industries, built economies, empowered nations, and saved lives in times of
Amateur radio is a hobby and, by law, completely
non-commercial. Individual amateur "ham" radio operators pursue the
avocation for personal pleasure through building their own radio stations and
communicating with their fellows globally, and for self-improvement via study
and practice of electronics, computers, and radio and TV wave behavior. Radio
amateurs are, thus, "amateurs" in the true sense of the word: pursuit
of an activity only for the love of it. Radio amateurs can not broadcast or
transmit music and other general public entertainment programming. The amateur
radio use of the air waves is for personal satisfaction and for forwarding the
"state of the art" of electronics and communication techniques.
Amateur radio operations can be detected in designated bands throughout the
radio spectrum, using a variety of modulation methods including Morse code,
voice and digital modes, and image modes such as television and facsimile.
Amateur radio came into being after radio waves (proved
to exist by Heinrich Rudolf Hertz in 1888) were adapted into a communication
system in the 1890s by the Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi. In the late 19th
century there had been amateur wired telegraphers setting up their own
interconnected telegraphic systems. Following Marconi's success many people
began experimenting with this new form of "wireless telegraphy".
Information on "Hertzian wave" based wireless telegraphy systems (the
name "radio" would not come into common use until several years
later) was sketchy, with magazines such as the November, 1901 issue of Amateur
Work showing how to build a simple system based on Hertz' early experiments.
Magazines show a continued progress by amateurs including a 1904 story on two
Boston, Massachusetts 8th graders constructing a transmitter and receiver with
a range of eight miles and a 1906 story about two Rhode Island teenagers
building a wireless station in a chicken coop. In the US the first commercially
produced wireless telegraphy transmitter / receiver systems became available to
experimenters and amateurs in 1905. In
1908, students at Columbia University formed the Wireless Telegraph Club of
Columbia University, now the Columbia University Amateur Radio Club. This is
the earliest recorded formation of an amateur radio club, collegiate or
otherwise. In 1910, the Amateurs of Australia formed, now the Wireless Institute
American Radio Relay League (ARRL)
Founded in 1914 by Hiram Percy Maxim, ARRL (American
Radio Relay League) is the national association for Amateur Radio in the US.
Today, with more than 161,000 members, ARRL is the largest organization of
radio amateurs in the world. ARRL's mission is based on five pillars: Public
Service, Advocacy, Education, Technology, and Membership.
Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES)
Amateur Radio Emergency Service® (ARES) consists of licensed amateurs who have
voluntarily registered their qualifications and equipment, with their local
ARES leadership, for communications duty in the public service when disaster
Every licensed amateur, regardless of membership in ARRL or any other local or
national organization is eligible to apply for membership in ARES. Training may
be required or desired to participate fully in ARES. Please inquire at the
local level for specific information. Because ARES is an Amateur Radio program,
only licensed radio amateurs are eligible for membership. The possession of
emergency-powered equipment is desirable, but is not a requirement for
Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES)
The Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES),
administered by local, county and state emergency management agencies and
supported by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is a part of the
Amateur Radio Service which provides radio communications for civil-defense
purposes, during periods of local, regional or national civil emergencies.
RACES was organized during the Cold War, to meet a
potential need during an enemy attack. Having never been called upon for that
purpose, RACES has since evolved to encompass all types of civil emergencies,
including natural disasters such as earthquakes, wildfires, floods, hurricanes,
tornadoes, and severe winter storms.
RACES operation is strictly controlled, and limited to
official civil defense activity authorized by emergency management officials.
Amateurs operating in RACES must be officially registered with the served civil
defense organization. For this purpose, Washoe County Amateur Radio Emergency
Service members are registered with Washoe County Emergency Management.
Although RACES and ARES are separate entities, this dual membership allows
Washoe County Amateur Radio Emergency Service members to "switch
hats" as necessary, with no interruption of service.
ARISS, or Amateur Radio on the International Space
Station (ISS), was formed to design, build and operate Amateur Radio equipment
in space for educational purposes. In 1996, delegates from major national
Amateur Radio organizations, such as ARRL, and from national Amateur Radio
satellite organizations, such as AMSAT, in the eight nations involved with the
international space station, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to form
NASA and the Russian space organization Energia have
signed agreements that spell out where the physical location of the Amateur
Radio equipment will be set up on the ISS. A technical team was officially
established by NASA to serve as the interface to support hardware development,
crew training and on-orbit operations.
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