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Royalty of Radio -- AM Celebrates 100 years

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by Guest, Dec 14, 2000.

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  1. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Classics on HF writes "Radio Royalty -- AM Celebrates 100 Years!!!

    This December 23 marks a hundred years since the first "phone" transmission, using AM, in what would come to be known as radio.

    AM has long been affirmed as a well-regarded specialty within today's amateur hobby by the rising value of classic radio equipment used on the shortwave ham bands. To listen to its popularity, you can easily find many signals on AM in clusters of enthusiasts on 160, 75 and 40 meters.

    I am gratified to learn that the heritage I've nurtured and continued to use in my past 30 years of hamming is now also passing a major milestone. A website dedicated to vintage equipment has drawn attention to the centennial anniversary:

    --previous text follows--

    Several years prior to his first broadcast by radio, Reginald Fessenden had perfected a new method of sending Morse code more effectively than Guglielmo Marconi. To him goes the credit for successfully transmitting the sound of the human voice between two 50-foot towers on Cobb Island located in the Potomac River, Washington D.C., December 23rd, 1900.

    Reginald Fessenden Biography Website

    --end previous text--

    Here is some background.

    The popularity of AM and vintage gear on the shortwave ham bands has come partly as a result of modern technology. It may seem counter-intuitive (after all, newer is better, right?), but increasingly there are people who have become bored that the radio "does" everything for them, depriving them of any sense of being connected to the act of crafting or creating something.

    The basis for Amateur Radio has included a mandate for a pool of technically qualified operators. Those qualifications can include being able to competently set up and convey emergency communications, but once also included an emphasis on having a hands-on knowledge of radio electronics.

    In years past, ham radio was one of the many hobbyist pursuits people could enjoy as part of a do-it-yourself philosophy that has vanished for the most part today. No basement workshops, no backyard mechanics, no darkroom photographers. Perhaps there are computer-based successors, but none that translate directly to fashioning hardware to create a signal to capture and deliver through the airwaves.

    In a nostalgic return to some of radio's "roots" about ten years ago, people began to seek out, repair/restore AND operate vintage vacuum tube radio equipment. The shift paralleled a rise in popularity for "hollow state" audio, and the superior fidelity many audio enthusiasts believe is possible only from vacuum tube devices.

    People re-discovered the pleasure of a technical pursuit, tracking down and rooting out old failed components, and reviving with a sense of history the radios manufactured 40-50 years ago. Also renewed was a sense of human-sounding audio, and an appreciation of hams years ago who as a matter of achievement tried to emulate the sound of the big AM Broadcast Stations.

    Homebrew or handcrafted equipment has also caught on again, but the challenge is far more difficult these days than when component-level parts were available from many radio supply houses. It is the challenge of locating vintage components that adds a certain amount of authenticity to the final product.

    The use of AM on the shortwave ham bands is a melancholy specialty, a well-regarded facet of the hobby folks can turn to when the mainstream modes and activities no longer hold allure.

    Some "old buzzards" will recall the days when single sideband was struggling for acceptance, causing dissent and controversy between the two camps when problems were caused by incompatible modes. Happily, that issue has long since been resolved, and respectful operators allow room for one another regardless of activity or mode.

    It's sort of like the old car hobby -- people turn, look and smile when a heavily-chromed, finned "classic" rolls by. It's nice to see someone's handiwork keeping a vintage artifact running.

    Please consider joining our specialty!

    The AM Window Website

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