The Boys Of ’25

"6BHH" - Ray Thomas courtesy: SCARA
I've been fascinated with the ham radio gear and activity of the late 20's for a number of years, ever since getting a bundle of 'Antique Wireless Association' journals from Harry, VE7AIJ. Many of the issues described in detail, the construction of simple '1929-style' transmitters, and once I learned that there was an annual '1929 QSO Party', I was hooked.

Knowing of my interest in early radio, Paul, K7CW, recently sent me a link to a truly delightful piece of old 16mm 'home movie' style film. The footage appears on the Santa Clara County Amateur Radio Association's website where a description of the film places it in or around San Jose, California and likely filmed over a number of months from early 1925 to 1926.

These were the very early days of ham radio ... the 'wild-west' in terms of rules, frequency allocations and enforcement. Hams operated throughout the LF / MF spectrum and it would not be unusual to find them working ships at sea or trying to work the latest geographical expedition to the Arctic or to some other far away place. It was also the transition period from spark to carrier-based communications, with RF generated by tubes and not with rotary high-voltage generators.

The film shows the radio 'boys of '25' (and girls!), now all so long gone, when they were young and full of life. We see them meeting, playing in the California sun and proudly showing off their shacks and equipment ... occasionally mocking those 'new-fangled' transmitting tubes, soon to replace their much-loved spark generators.

I hope you enjoy this treasure from the past ... I'm sure the 'boys of '25' would be delighted if you do.
Steve McDonald, VE7SL, is a regular contributor to and writes from British Columbia, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

4 Responses to “The Boys Of ’25”

  • Roger G3XBM:

    Thank you Steve. A fascinating look into amateur radio in the 1920s.

  • Dex, W4DEX:

    I really enjoyed the old video Steve! My Grandaddy operated spark before World War I. I sure wished I had documented some of his stories before he became a silent key.


  • Dave Karpiej K1THP:

    One observation is the that the old timers dressed with jacket and tie to even go to the beach and drive a motorboat. Also they didn’t worry about tobacco smoked rigs! Very cool input to the early days of Ham Radio. Thanks for sharing it.

  • Wayne W1WBL:

    Great and Thank You

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