A Bit of US License History Trivia....

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by N2EY, Feb 13, 2018.

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  1. N2EY

    N2EY Ham Member QRZ Page

    There was - the records were destroyed.

    However, much information can be gathered from old Callbooks, many of which are archived online. However, license class was not indicated in the Callbooks until 1967.

    Anyone who studies the history knows all this.
    W2AI likes this.
  2. SM0AOM

    SM0AOM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Another quite interesting thing is the merger of the station and the operator's licences, which is an anomaly.
    The operator qualifications are referred to as the "operator's certificate", and this is how it is intended to work.

    An establishment of any transmitting station shall be preceded by a licencing procedure (see Article 18), and it is up to the
    station licencee to ensure that the "staff on duty in coast stations and in coast
    earth stations are adequately qualified to operate the stations efficiently"
    (Article 48).
    For ship and aircraft stations there are specific classes of operator's certificates spelled out.

    In many countries post-war, this scheme was followed closely even for amateur radio.
    An amateur operator's certificate was a necessity for any private person to obtain a station licence,
    but did not itself convey any authority to possess or operate your equipment or to have an assigned callsign
    for the station unless the application for the individual station licence had been approved.

    The operator's certificate could not be revoked, but the station licence and its callsign could.

    This essentially lives on in the way club stations still are licenced and operated.
    You are supposed to operate using the callsign of the station, not your own.

    Somewhere along the line, the distinctions between the operator's certificate and the station licence have blurred.
    Nowadays the station call has become a synonym for both the station and the person owing and operating it, which certainly would have be seen as an anomaly in earlier times, and in more level-headed circles.

    Just imagine the Chief R/O of, say, the State Icebreaker Oden walking around in a embroidered hat and a badge with
    "SDIA" on it, presenting himself as SDIA... Paramedics with strait-jackets would have been called.

    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
    N0TZU and N2EY like this.
  3. K9STH

    K9STH Ham Member Volunteer Moderator QRZ Page

    After renewal, the old commercial radiotelephone licenses were returned stamped "cancelled" in large letters. However, the amateur radio licenses were not returned.

    At an FCC office, when taking the General Class examination, if you had a Novice Class license, you had to show the license to the FCC engineer. But, since you had to have the license with you to operate, and since the upgrade took several weeks to process if you passed, the original license was returned to you.

    Until the early 1970s, the FCC issued additional station licenses so that if the operator was away from the primary station location (i.e. a summer home, student at college, etc.), they did not have to notify the FCC of such operation. In 1962, when I went off to college, I got the additional station call of WA4MLI licensed to my fraternity house on the Georgia Tech campus. After getting married, the location was changed to wherever my wife, and I, were living. However, I maintained my K9STH call. Then, after moving to Texas, I got a second additional station license WA5STI (I never forgave the FCC for missing STH by one letter). I moved the location of WA4MLI to my mother-in-law's house with the mailing address in Texas. The K9STH remained at my parent's house in Indiana but the mailing address was moved to Texas. The addresses for both mailing and location, for the WA5STI call, were in Texas.

    Then, the FCC did away with additional station licenses and said that you had to have a call from the area in which you lived. I had to give up all 3 calls and was "awarded" W5UOJ, a call which at least 3 others had held in the past. Then, with the vanity program, I got back my original K9STH call.

    Glen, K9STH
  4. N0TZU

    N0TZU Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Separate station and operator licensing makes sense for communication equipment on ships, aircraft and ground stations which are critical for navigation and safety-of-life, and which can be operated by many different crew persons. It makes much less sense to have separate licenses for personally owned and operated amateur equipment.
    WD4IGX, K7MH, N2UHC and 2 others like this.
  5. KL7AJ

    KL7AJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    When I was a Novice, the term was two years. My General class ticket arrived THE VERY DAY my Novice expired. :)
  6. KL7AJ

    KL7AJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Oh, I don't know....we have lots of people here running around in orange vests, totally undetained. :)
  7. W2AI

    W2AI XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    OK-Dokie, Jim. I have another far-fetched theory with the FCC licensing bureau. I say the staff at the Gettysburg PA facility could have initiated a vanity callsign program as early as 1964 when amateur radio licensing data became computerized on magnetic tape. However; for years the FCC claimed they neither had the resources nor the manpower to implement such an arrangement. Also, at some point in the 1960s; the FCC defined amateur radio callsigns in Part 97. The following formats were designated 'preferred calls' according to the subsection: 1x2 and 1x3 station callsigns beginning with "W" or "K". 2x3 callsigns beginning with the prefix "WA" and "WB" were deemed to be sequentially issued standard callsigns.

    Another piece of ham radio callsign trivia was in that particular era (mid 1960s to 1978) when you moved to another radio district and changed callsigns; you would receive the same type of callsign format similar to the one you relinquished. So if K1FZZ [licensed in 1963] and WA1AAA [licensed in 1963 on the same day as K1FZZ] were to move to Florida: K1FZZ would receive a 1x3 recycled "W4" or "K4" recycled 1x3 callsign while WA1AAA would receive the newest sequentially issued WA4 or WB4 2x3 callsign.
  8. N7WR

    N7WR Subscriber QRZ Page

    Actually in the space of a few short week they had already gotten well into the WV6 series. My novice call was WV6CUP which became WA6CUP when I upgraded to General
  9. NK2U

    NK2U Ham Member QRZ Page


    Yes, and anyone who STUDIES these things would know that vanityhq was a great place to research callsigns too! However, they went belly up and I begged the website's owner not to destroy the data and yet he did anyway. What a loss.

    de NK2U
  10. SM0AOM

    SM0AOM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Apparently, the Authorities felt it made sense also for amateur radio.
    I can however trace a clue in the fact that the station licences (or "proof of permission"
    that the literal translation was) were abolished at about the same time as we began to lose our status in general.

    Requiring a station licence to buy, build or possess a transmitter gave the Authorities the possibility to prosecute
    illegal CB:ers and other miscreants for security reasons.

    Up to the early 90s, the unlicenced use or possession of a radio transmitter could, at least in theory,
    be prosecuted as a crime against the State.

    Even the sale of a transmitter was illegal if the buyer did not have a station licence.

    This dried up any flow of amateur gear into the hands of illegal CB:ers and wannabe pirate broadcasters.


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