Why HAM?

Posted 9/11/06


This short informational article was written by Chuck, WB8NSL, Vice President of the I.O.O.K.


Why Do We Call Ourselves "HAMS" ?


The first amateur radio stations went on the air shortly after Marconi did his experiments with the wireless.  Pioneer radio operators picked their own frequencies and call letters.  At the time the whole thing was not regulated.

Since the only means of communication involved the Morse Code, many abbreviations were commonly used.  Three  pioneers at the Harvard Radio Club were Albert Hyman, Robert Almy, and P. Murray.  To save any confusion with the commercial broadcasters, these little hobby radio stations adopted the acronym "HAM" as their designation of size.

In 1911 there was a lot of controversy between these little "Amateur Radio" stations and the big greedy commercial stations competing for the use of the spectrum.  The "Wireless Regulation Bill" got to the floor of Congress where the little "HAM" stations gained fame.  You can find this in the Congressional Record. 

Much more than just a hobby, amateur radio has a colorful history of public service communication in times of serious emergency or disaster.  More "HAMS" are always needed to carry on the tradition of the hobby and to protect, in a responsible manner, this freedom to operate a little "HAM" radio station in the radio spectrum.


By Charlie Dotson