source of word HAM
jsilva at ua.pt
Fri Jul 5 00:17:29 EDT 1996
I' searching for the source of word HAM.
HAM means "amateur" but amateur starts with an A and not a H !
Maybe the work amateur has this source in other language (except English) ?
Any info on this subject is welcome. Thanks.
73s de CT1DSJ
jsilva at zeus.ci.ua.pt
>From ni6t at scruznet.com (Garry Shapiro) Fri Jul 5 07:21:47 1996
From: ni6t at scruznet.com (Garry Shapiro) (Garry Shapiro)
Date: Thu, 04 Jul 1996 23:21:47 -0700
Subject: source of word HAM
References: <199607042238.PAA05567 at scruz.net>
Message-ID: <31DCB47B.3842 at scruznet.com>
J. Silva wrote:
> Hello all,
> I' searching for the source of word HAM.
> HAM means "amateur" but amateur starts with an A and not a H !
> Maybe the work amateur has this source in other language (except English) ?
> Any info on this subject is welcome. Thanks.
> 73s de CT1DSJ
> jsilva at zeus.ci.ua.pt
I may not have this all right, but the substance is probably there.
The story, as I understand it, goes back to the early years of this
century, when amateur and commercial stations occupied the same longwave
bands, transmitters were broad, and receivers had little selectivity. At
the time there was no coherent US government policy about
radio--stations even used whatever callsigns pleased them--but it was
known that regulation would eventually occur.
Commercial interests sought to exclude amateurs from the bands, regarding
them as unnecessary sources of interference to their operations.
Legislation to bar amateur radio was introduced into Congress. One active
amateur station at the time was the Harvard Amateur Radio Club, at
Harvard University, which used the callsign HAM. The club prevailed upon
the congressman for that area to represent its position, which this
congressman did, at great length and eloquence, on the floor of the
One should know that this was a time of crusading journalists and
reformers--"muckrakers"--who targeted rapacious monopolies and abusive
practices that were the dark side of freewheeling, unregulated
capitalism. So this congressman's representation of the greedy commercial
companies and "this little station HAM" struck a responsive chord.
(Amateur radio was not banned, and was provided for in the Communications
Act of 1912.) The Harvard station, HAM, became associated in the popular
mind with non-commercial, amateur radio to the extent that "ham radio"
became a synonym for "amateur radio" and "ham" for amateur radio
"Alternating currents are dangerous. They are fit only for
powering the electric chair."
-- Thomas A. Edison
Garry Shapiro, NI6T
Editor, "The DXer"
--monthly bulletin of the Northern California DX Club
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