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Why do they call in ham radio?


Alan2
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"Ham: a poor operator. A 'plug.'"

 

That's the definition of the word given in G. M. Dodge's The Telegraph Instructor even before radio. The definition has never changed in wire telegraphy. The first wireless operators were landline telegraphers who left their offices to go to sea or to man the coastal stations. They brought with them their language and much of the tradition of their older profession.

 

In those early days, spark was king and every station occupied the same wavelength--or, more accurately perhaps, every station occupied the whole spectrum with its broad spark signal. Government stations, ships, coastal stations and the increasingly numerous amateur operators all competed for time and signal supremacy in each other's receivers. Many of the amateur stations were very powerful. Two amateurs, working across town, could effectively jam all the other operators in the area. When this happened, frustrated commercial operators would call the ship whose weaker signals had been blotted out by the amateurs and say "SRI OM THOSE #&$!@ HAMS ARE JAMMING YOU."

 

Amateurs, possibly unfamiliar with the real meaning of the term, picked it up and applied it to themselves in true "Yankee Doodle" fashion and wore it with pride. As the years advanced, the original meaning has completely disappeared.

 

Hope this helps

 

Dan

W4PHQ

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Most were urban legends before that term was in use...

 

I noticed a while ago that on the FCC/ULC records for my license there was a block for "Type" which said "HAI". It now say "HAV" after getting a vanity call sign.

 

I suspect that once upon a time "HAM" was a type designation used by the FCC.

 

Dave_W6DPS

 

My two cents worth, refunds available on request. (US funds only)

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quote:
Originally posted by seadogdan:

"Ham: a poor operator. A 'plug.'"

W4PHQ


 

It think that version sounds the most credible.

[RAMBLE]

Especially since professionals are wont to disparage amatures in thier field, even if such disparagment may sometimes be affectionate (like a writer may call a colleague a 'hack') a pro telegraph operator may start "hamming around" with this new Marconi fad, or something, and add it to the possibiity that "Ham" might be mis-heard or connected with "Am" as in "Amature" it's easy to see how it may have picked up steam.

[/RAMBLE]

 

ApK

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quote:
Originally posted by seadogdan:

"Ham: a poor operator. A 'plug.'"

 

... Many of the amateur stations were very powerful. Two amateurs, working across town, could effectively jam all the other operators in the area. When this happened, frustrated commercial operators would call the ship whose weaker signals had been blotted out by the amateurs and say "SRI OM THOSE #&$!@ HAMS ARE JAMMING YOU."

 

Amateurs, possibly unfamiliar with the real meaning of the term, picked it up and applied it to themselves in true "Yankee Doodle" fashion and wore it with pride. As the years advanced, the original meaning has completely disappeared.

 

Hope this helps

 

Dan

W4PHQ


 

Thaks for your response. I looked up the word ham in Microsoft's Thesaurus and this is what they offered.

 

Alan

 

quote:
ham (adjective)

 

ignorant: lay, amateurish, nonprofessional, unqualified, inexpert, ham, unskillful

unskilled: nonprofessional, ham, lay, amateurish, amateur, self-taught

 

Open outline for additional related articles

 

The Original Roget's Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases (Americanized Version) is licensed from Longman Group UK Limited. Copyright © 1994 by Longman Group UK Limited. All rights reserved.


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I just saw an article about that the other day. I remember it was very informative. If only I could remember where I saw it! I'll look around for it and post if I find it.

 

----

Duct tape is like the Force. It has a light side and a dark side, and it holds the universe together.

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I'm pretty sure they're called Lids throughout the English-speaking world.

 

P.S. I think you've got a sticky mouse button, Geo-Trekker. Maybe you shouldn't be eating those sticky buns while you're on the computer. icon_wink.gif

 

-----

~ Boyd

N5CTI

 

"Never ask a man where he's from. If he's from Texas, he'll tell ya soon enough. If he ain't, don't embarrass him."

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I read an article (a long time ago) which explained that, because Amateur Radio operators were once referred to as "Ham-fisted Code Senders" (during the time when it was all in Morse Code), the name "Ham Radio" evolved.

 

I believe that what I had read about this may have come from an American Radio Relay League publication.

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The acronym "HAM"

(from World Radio)

 

The acronym "HAM" as applied to amateur radio dates back to 1908. It was the call letters of the first amateur radio station operated by three members of the Harvard Wireless Club. They were Albert Hyman, Bob Almy, and Reggy Murray. At first they called their station"Hyman-Almy-Murray'" but tapping out such a long name in code soon called for revision. They changed their call sign to HY-AL-MU, using the first two letters of each name.

 

Early in 1909, some confusion resulted between HYALMU and the Mexican ship named Hyalmo. It was then decided to use only the first letter of each name and the call became HAM.

 

In the early days, amateur radio operators picked their own frequencies and call signs. Then, as now, some amateurs had better signals than some commercial stations. The resulting confusion finally came to the attention of Congressional Committies and they, in turn, gave much attention to proposed legislation designed to criticaly limit amateur activities.

 

In 1911, Albert Hyman chose the controversial legislative bill as his thesis at Harvard. His instructor insisted that a copy be sent to Senator Davis Walsh, a member of one of the committees hearing the bill. The Senator was so impressed that he sent for Hyman to appear before the Committee.

 

He took the stand and described how their little stations were built. He said if the bill went through, they would have to close the station. They could not afford the license fee and the requiremants called for in the bill.

 

The debate started and the little HAM became the symbol af all the little amateur stations in the country crying out to be saved from the greed of the bid commercial stations that didn't want them around. Finally, the bill got to the floor of Congress and every member talked about the poor little "HAM" stations. Thats how it all started.

 

You'll find the story in the Congressional Record.

 

Now you know why you are a "HAM".

 

Don KF6NSU

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