The death of the American ham radio industry

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by W4ZD, Jul 24, 2019.

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  1. N2EY

    N2EY Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    But....when was this Golden Age of Amateur Radio?

    A case can be made for just about every era after 1900 being "The Golden Age of Amateur Radio". And yet, when you read the writings of those times, there were plenty of folks saying Amateur Radio was dying, ruined, on its last legs, and rapidly falling apart. The Golden Age is always in the past.

    The doomsaying and negativity and such have been going on pretty much since the very beginning of Amateur Radio. Having done a bit of research into US amateur radio history, I notice the following.....

    In 1912-1913, when licenses became mandatory, power was limited to 1000 watts and wavelengths limited to 200 meters and down, there were those who said that amateur radio was dying out. No way it would survive with all those restrictions. Many hams left the air and did not return.

    In 1917-1919, when amateur radio was shut down for WW1, there were those who said that amateur radio would never come back. Many who went to war did not return at all; others returned but were interested in other things. And when US hams were allowed back on the air, the new licenses required "harder" tests and there were more restrictions.....

    In the early 1920s, when spark was being replaced by C.W., and 200 meters was being abandoned for the "short waves", there were those who said that amateur radio was dying out. They said nobody could afford the complicated new stuff ("fugitives from a lightbulb factory"). Some left when King Spark was dethroned, and never came back.

    In the 1920s, when "RADIO" meant "AM broadcasting", there were those who said that BCI (Broadcast Interference) would cause amateur radio to die out. And it was a real problem for many. Some left and never came back.

    In 1927, when new regulations required pure DC signals, and the 20 and 40 meter bands were dramatically narrowed (40 used to be 7000 to 8000 kc. and 20 used to be 14,000 to 16,0000 kc.) there were those that said the "1929 regs" would cause amateur radio to die out. Some could not deal with the new regulations, left and never came back.

    When the stock market crashed in 1929, there were those who said amateur radio would die out because nobody could afford hobbies any more.

    When World War 2 started and kept spreading....there were those who said amateur radio would die out if the war lasted more than a year or two. Or that when the war ended - if it ever did - amateurs wouldn't be allowed back on the air.

    In the late 1940s and into the early 1950s, US hams were faced with multiple problems. 160 was mostly gone to LORAN. TV was the new rage, meaning transmitters and designs that were perfectly fine before TV arrived were useless due to TVI. The restructuring of 1951 gave us the new Novice and Technician and the Great Giveaway of Christmas 1952 gave all US hams except Technicians and Novices full privileges. There were those who said all that would cause amateur radio to die out. "No kids, no lids, no space cadets".

    When SSB began to appear on the HF amateur bands, there were those who said it would cause amateur radio to die out. "You can easily tell a sidebander - he understands every word of a Donald Duck cartoon the first time", "the ARRL is shoving SSB down our throats", "it's too complicated and expensive for 99% of hams", etc.

    When homebrewing continued to decline, replaced by surplus conversion, kits, and manufactured ham gear, there were those who said it would cause amateur radio to die out. "Appliance operators" would be the ruination of Amateur Radio.

    When transceivers replaced separates....and when "imported" rigs replaced US-made....there were those who said amateur radio was dying out.

    When "incentive licensing" was proposed....there were those who said it would kill amateur radio. When it was enacted, there were those who said the end was just around the corner.

    When the CB boom happened....FM and repeaters....the VEC system...changes to the license structure....the internet, cell phones, etc......all were The End Of Amateur Radio.

    See a pattern there?

    I became a ham in 1967, and there were plenty of doomsayers back then. If I'd listened to them, I'd have missed out on over a half-century of fun.

    The good old days weren't always good.
    Tomorrow's not as bad as it seems.

    Follow the rules, regs, and The Amateur's Code, learn as much as you can, develop your skills, have fun, and forget about the doomsayers. They just don't know what's what and they will never admit to being wrong.

    73 de Jim, N2EY
    N0VFJ, W0FS, VK4HAT and 9 others like this.
  2. K1VSK

    K1VSK Ham Member QRZ Page

    Come on.... attack the message if you can, not the messenger. All I did was point out an alternative perspective.
  3. NL7W

    NL7W Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    No. His mention of an Arc of Nature is "dead-on" target.

    People, countries, societies and many or most things in this world follow such an arc. Amateur radio is no different. Enjoy it and your time on this planet while it lasts.
    AG7CK, W0FS and KC8YLT like this.
  4. N2EY

    N2EY Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Maybe - but - how could globalization have been prevented?

    The only ways I can see are two:

    1) The Government passes laws that restrict importation of consumer electronics. Import fees, taxes, tariffs, quotas, flat-out bans, etc., Make the importation impossible or uneconomic.

    2) The Market (meaning The People) decide not to buy imported products.
  5. KK4YWN

    KK4YWN Ham Member QRZ Page

    If you want to see america prosper again you will have to outlive the boomers.
    K8AI and NL7W like this.
  6. N0TZU

    N0TZU Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Actually, consumers pay the tariffs. The tariff is remitted to the US government by the US importer, who typically passes the cost along and the consumer ends up paying it on top of the price, unless the importer or retailer absorbs some of it, or the producer lowers prices to compensate.

    I don’t know if the present tariffs will affect imported ham radios. There are many details that affect the outcome.
    WA9JOQ, KM4FVI and N2EY like this.
  7. W4ZD

    W4ZD Ham Member QRZ Page

    No disrespect intended, sir. Sometimes the message and the messenger are one and the same, or seem so. :)
  8. KT1F

    KT1F Ham Member QRZ Page

    Well ... that's not what I heard from an expert on TV. I think he had something to do with the tariffs. He said that we are collecting millions of dollars in tariffs from China.

    But ... I guess it's possible that you're correct and that other guy is a complete idiot.
    W8NDB, AG5DB, N0TZU and 1 other person like this.
  9. N4GKS

    N4GKS Ham Member QRZ Page

    Did you see the prices of TenTec gear before they went under. Question answered.
  10. KP4SX

    KP4SX Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Yabbut, it would have happened with or without Unions.
    WA8FOZ, K8AI, N2EY and 1 other person like this.

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