Posts Tagged ‘Amateur Radio History’

Taking a stroll through transceiver time…

Something that has made me drift into periods of wonder for a long time now is to look through the websites or other historical sources of radios and transceivers manufactured for amateur radio. By just perusing radios over a lengthy period of time, one can gauge how and when the hobby made changes in the technology. As the author William Faulkner has said, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” If coverage of the 2022 Xenia Hamvention bone yard is any indication, Faulkner is indeed right about the technological past not even being past!

Anthropologists of technology tell us that:

Social change is driven by — and depends upon — technological change.

Tim Ingold, Social Analysis No. 41(1) March 1997, p. 106.
The past isn’t even past, said William Faulkner (Oxford, MS)

Our technological change in transceiver technology lends itself to the social change in how we practice amateur radio. I’ll focus on just one element that has emerged in the last decade, the panadapter effect, in a later post. But for now, let’s just get a grasp of the bigger picture. For it may not be what you thought, if you’re a long-time amateur radio operator. The pending demographic changes that I’ve written about unmercifully suggest that some won’t see the changes that tech imposes on cultural shifts.

But technology moves onward. The changes that improvements and revolutionary creations do begat collective change, even if the past still is among us in terms of usage or just in our hearts and minds. Those images and feelings are demographically rooted, however, in the time in which our early years are imprinted in our memories.

People — smart, thoughtful people, with relevant backgrounds and domain knowledge — thought that Airbnb and Uber were doomed to failure, because obviously no one would want to stay in a stranger’s home or ride in a stranger’s car. People thought the iPhone would flop, because users would “detest the touch screen interface.” People thought enterprise software-as-a-service would never fly, because executives would insist on keeping servers in-house at all costs.

It’s quite an amazing walk to just browse through the dates that radios in Rob Sherwood’s table of receiver tests were released to the market. I’ve put a simple time line page in the portfolio of Sherwood Tools for the viewer to easily do that. I’ve added links to pictures and details of each radio for a richer experience.

Return to the year you were licensed or got seriously interested in amateur radio. What’s the nearest year in Rob’s Table? What was the technology of that radio? What was your first transceiver? Locate your amateur radio life course regarding transceivers through Rob’s bench test list. Then, check out the other Sherwood Tools to see how it fits into the latest rigs.

After this new page was circulated by Twitter, I received this kind note from a popular SOTA award winner, Ed Durrant DD5LP in Germany:

This is a great work that you have pulled together. I found myself going through the time-line saying, yes, yes, I remember those and then I’d see one I didn’t recognise but in general this is very useful to see which companies were really active at different times…I am in awe of this work, the more I check different links, the more I get pulled into it and I can see how much effort you have put in it.

While it did take a minute, the results are hopefully well worth it. But just taking the Sherwood Table and placing each radio into the year of market-entry, there is a look at over a half-century of technological advancement in this time line. How has it made us change our behavior in operating? How has it changed the organized hobby itself? And what will tomorrow bring? Go take a stroll through transceiver time here.

ICQ Podcast Feature on the Lost Tribe. TSM article now freely available

The historical research I recently published in October issue of The Spectrum Monitor is now available on my companion website, It’s on the home page. TSM allows authors to hold secondary publication rights to articles so I can freely post the PDF now that the November issue is published. Have a look if you don’t subscribe to TSM.

The next episode of the ICQ Podcast, Number 363 that will drop on Sunday November 7th, will feature an audio version of these new research results. For those who’d rather listen than read, this might be a viable option.

One upshot of my research is this: if you begin with the ARRL-published and famous book, 200 Meters and Down by ARRL Secretary Sutton, you are going to be terribly mislead about how amateur radio got organized in the United States. The new website,, amidst other sources such as online historical newspapers (e.g.,, the Internet Archive, the Hathitrust archive, various university-based archives, and other sources, really opens up our ability to more fully understand the origins, emergence and organization of wireless telegraphy which begat amateur radio.

Who is this?

I’ve included a picture from Wikipedia of a person who made voluminous but unheralded contributions to the emergence of amateur radio. This included selling parts to the person who Elmered one of the founders of the ARRL into the hobby. (Did you know there were two co-founders?)

Do you recognize him from this picture?

If not, you’d find the TSM article and the ICQ Podcast feature in the next episode very informative. I’ve included another, one that looks a bit wacky from the day but if you’re familiar with 3D immersive technology, it was “seeing” far into the future of…today! (See the search results using the term, Oculus Quest, if you’re not familiar.)

During a somewhat boring world history class in college, I heard my professor say, “Yes, history is boring to many. Until it touches your life.” He had a point. I was living through some important history of America back in the late-sixties and early seventies. It led me into studying social movements and how they intersect the lives of not only the current participants but those who come afterwards, too.

I hope that the research I’ve done into the early part of the last century on this topic will touch your amateur radio life, so to speak. It has mine as I learned quite a bit from almost a year’s worth of reading and study. I’m delighted that we have an outlet like TSM whose Editor, Ken Reitz KS4ZR, is willing to publish pieces like this.

Guess who? Intelligent Vision was the name of the gadget.

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