[CQ-Contest] Old Radio Nuggets From The Past

Spencer Lazar slazar19 at sgi.net
Fri Apr 30 13:26:11 EDT 1999

 In the early 1900's ham radio operators pioneered the wireless.
 *Prior to 1920, most Americans couldn't even fathom the idea of
 voices and music coming into their homes over the air.  The industry
 would grow rapidly from 5,000 in-home radio sets in 1920 to more
 than 2.5 million in 1924. "Wireless" ham radio became commercialized.
 Guglielmo Marconi, an Italian electrical engineer, transmitted the 
 first wireless signal in 1895.  By the turn of the century he had 
 formed telegraph companies in England and opened the first wireless 
 office in New York City.  In 1901, Marconi telegraphed the letter "S" 
 across the Atlantic Ocean.  The U.S. Navy was so impressed that it
 replaced a flock of carrier pigeons with the "wireless" for
 ship-to-shore communications.

 Shortly after, Lee de Forest was lauding his new, three-element
 electron "audion" tube as a "new receiver for wireless telegraphy."
 Edwin Armstrong's development of practical regenerative and
 super-heterodyne circuits led to modern radio reception and 
 transmission as we know them today.  On Good Friday, 1917, the U.S. 
 declared war on Germany after German U-boats torpedoed and sank four 
 American ships without warning.  President Wilson directed the Navy to 
 take over all wireless stations during the emergency, including 
 Marconi's ship-to-shore operations
 The Radio Corporation of America
 The federal government's takeover of the wireless industry during the 
 war accomplished two things: it focused efforts and funds on further 
 technological improvements and it sorted out the tangle of patent 
 infringements that had crippled industry development.  Wartime 
 experience convinced Assistant Navy Secretary Franklin D. Roosevelt 
 that radio patents should be kept under American control.  General 
 Electric, which was planning a major sale of broadcasting equipment to 
 the British Marconi company, was asked instead to take the lead in 
 organizing an American radio concern.  GE agreed, and the Radio 
 Corporation of America was formed in October 1919.  RCA took over the 
 assets of American Marconi and responsibility for marketing the radio 
 equipment produced by GE and Westinghouse.  Conceived as a "marriage 
 of convenience" between private corporations and the government for 
 the development of wireless communication, RCA soon grew in a 
 different direction.
 Just six years later, RCA's revenues from "wireless" came to $4 
 million.  Revenue from the sale of consumer Radiolas and related 
 equipment had grown to $46 million and the gap was widening. 
 Westinghouse, one of RCA's manufacturers, received the first 
 commercial broadcasting license in 1920.  A few days later, station 
 KDKA went on the air with the returns of the Harding-Cox presidential 
 election.  RCA was on the air with the world heavyweight boxing 
 championship by the next summer, a marketing brainstorm of RCA General 
 Manager David Sarnoff.
 Baseball's first broadcast of the World Series came just a few months 
 after the first official radio station went on the air. During radio's
 infancy as an entertainment medium, engineers were busy finding other
 ways to use the newly-harnessed frequencies.  RCA transmitted the first
 radio photograph, a precursor to the fax machine, across the Atlantic
 Ocean in 1924.  The number of radio stations had doubled in just two
 years.  By the time Charles Lindbergh made his historic transatlantic
 flight, some six million radio sets were in use. Surveys indicated
 that an average of five people listened to each set, making a potential
 market of 30 million people.
 RCA's David Sarnoff saw the potential for a nationwide network, and in 
 1926 RCA, GE and Westinghouse bought WEAF in New York and designated 
 it as the anchor station for the National Broadcasting Company.
 NBC soon stretched to 25 stations nationwide.
 The Rose Bowl game of 1927 was heard coast to coast, thanks to the NBC 
 network. In 1927, another remarkable development was taking place: 
 California engineer Philo Farnsworth sent out a signal in a pioneering 
 television experiment.  His broadcast sent a picture of a dollar sign 
 through the air.  A year later, the president of RCA predicted that 
 Kodak's newly-developed color film might someday be applied to 

 In the 1990's the telephone was surgically implanted in millions
 of women's heads. It was called the cell phone. In the 1999 Al Gore
 claimed he invented the Internet. In the 1990's KA9FOX established
 the internet's most popular ham radio web site. By 1999 40,000,000
 people worldwide were surfing the internet.

 In the year 1999 the ARRL will sponsor Sweepstakes, the oldest
 continuing running contest, established in the 1930's. Shortly
 thereafter K1DG was cloned, the clone was known as K1AR, or
 was it visa versa? In the early 1990's N6TR, K8CC & K1EA wrote
 contesting logging programs based in DOS. In the latter 1990's
 W5XD & KK4KD wrote Windows based contest logging programs. 

 In 1998 through inovative contest log checking software development
 by N6TR & N5KO, contesting was forever changed.
 *Factual text via K2LXC


 Bafoofnik's Ham Radio Seatch Engine

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