What is Amateur Radio?
Amateur Radio. You've heard of it. You probably know that Amateur Radio operators are also called hams. (Nobody knows quite why!) But who are these people and what do they do?
Every minute of every hour of every day, 365 days a year, radio amateurs all over the world communicate with each other. It's a way of discovering new friends while experimenting with different and exciting new ways to advance the art of their hobby. Ham radio is a global fraternity of people with common and yet widely varying interests, able to exchange ideas and learn more about each other with every on-the-air contact. Because of this, Amateur Radio has the ability to enhance international relations as does no other hobby.
How is it possible to talk to an astronaut circling the earth in the Space Shuttle; a Tokyo businessman, a US legislator, a Manhattan store owner, a camper in a Canadian national park, the head of state of a Mediterranean-area country, a student at a high school radio club in Wyoming, or a sailor on board a ship in the middle of the Pacific? And all without leaving your home! Only with Amateur Radio - that's how!
(from page 1-1 "the 1990
ARRL Handbook for the Radio Amateur")