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What is HAM?
What is Ham Radio?
Have you ever wondered why radio amateurs are called "HAMS"? Well, it goes like this: The word "HAM" as applied to 1908 was the station CALL of the first amateur wireless stations operated by some amateurs of the Harvard Radio Club. They were ALBERT S. HYMAN, BOB ALMY and POOGIE MURRAY.

At first they called their station "HYMAN-ALMY-MURRAY". Tapping out such a long name in code soon became tiresome and called for a revision. They changed it to "HY-AL-MU", using the first two letters of each of their names. Early in 1901 some confusion resulted between signals from amateur wireless station "HYALMU" and a Mexican ship named "HYALMO". They then decided to use only the first letter of each name, and the station CALL became "HAM".

In the early pioneer days of unregulated radio amateur operators picked their own frequency and call-letters. Then, as now, some amateurs had better signals than commercial stations. The resulting interference came to the attention of congressional committees in Washington and Congress gave much time to proposed legislation designed to critically limit amateur radio activity.

In 1911, ALBERT HYMAN chose the controversial WIRELESS REGULATION BILL as the topic for his Thesis at Harvard. His instructor insisted that a copy be sent to Senator DAVID I. WALSH, a member of one of the committees hearing the Bill. The Senator was so impressed with the thesis is that he asked HYMAN to appear before the committee. ALBERT HYMAN took the stand and described how the little station was built and almost cried when he told the crowded committee room that if the BILL went through that they would have to close down the station because they could not afford the license fees and all the other requirements which the BILL imposed on amateur stations.

Congressional debate began on the WIRELESS REGULATION BILL and little station "HAM" became the symbol for all the little amateur stations in the country crying to be saved from the menace and greed of the big commercial stations who didn't want them around.

The BILL finally got to the floor of Congress and every speaker talked about the "...poor little station HAM". That's how it all started. You will find the whole story in the Congressional Record. Nation-wide publicity associated station "HAM" with amateur radio operators.

From that day to this, and probably until the end of time in radio an amateur is a "HAM"
The History
Ham Radio started with Marconi -- In September 1895, Guglielmo Marconi, a self-taught 21-year-old from Bologna, did not want to accept popular science's thinking that radio waves were limited to line-of-sight and limited in range. Debate raged over the common theories. Marconi decided to test all of this out, and created his first radio transmitter, and put the receiver out in the far end of his garden. He placed obstacles in the path, and then had his assistant transmit. He heard it.

By 1901, he sent a wireless signal across the Atlantic. For the next seven years, many Americans experimented with wireless. The first radio clubs appeared in 1909, and the Titanic disaster of 1912 pointed out the need for regulation of wireless. We now have cell phones, television, and all of the other telecommunications using radio, because of his amateur radio experiment.

Ham Radio continues to test ideas and forge new ground in practical communications. The hobby can be as simple as talking on local-area repeaters with those in the same town, to building a satellite or experimenting with new forms of telecommunications. The HAM hobbyist can talk to those on the other side of the earth with nothing more than a simple High Frequency transceiver and an equally simple wire antenna.
The seed for Amateur Radio was planted in the 1890s, when Guglielmo Marconi began his experiments in wireless telegraphy. Soon he was joined by dozens, then hundreds, of others who were enthusiastic about sending and receiving messages through the air--some with a commercial interest, but others solely out of a love for this new communications medium. The United States government began licensing Amateur Radio operators in 1912.

By 1914, there were thousands of Amateur Radio operators--hams--in the United States. Hiram Percy Maxim, a leading Hartford, Connecticut, inventor and industrialist saw the need for an organization to band together this fledgling group of radio experimenters. In May 1914 he founded the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) to meet that need.

Amateur radio is used in search-and-rescue, contests, disaster aid (hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, accidents, fires), and much more. Amateur radio operators talk with other HAM radio hobbyists using all sorts of communication modes. From Morse Code and voice to Slow Scan Television and computer networking through the radio waves, these hobbyists reach out with goodwill from their homes, cars, boats and outdoors. Some also like to work on electronic circuits, building their own radios and antennas.
Dedicated hobbyists have pioneered in new technology, contributing to advances in technology that has impacted the world of communications in all areas of our lives. Even ham-astronauts take radios with them on space shuttle missions, and make calls to earth-bound Amateurs.

The rules & regulations in this Part are designed to provide an amateur radio service having a fundamental purpose as expressed in the following principles:

Recognition and enhancement of the value of the amateur service to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communication service, particularly with respect to providing emergency communications.
Continuation and extension of the amateur's proven ability to contribute to the advancement of the radio art.

Encouragement and improvement of the amateur service through rules which provide for advancing skills in both the communications and technical phases of the art.

Expansion of the existing reservoir within the amateur radio service of trained operators, technicians, and electronics experts.

Continuation and extension of the amateur's unique ability to enhance international goodwill.

More soon...