How Radio Amateurs Contributed
Towards the Development of Radio Communication
It was in 1846 that an Englishman, by the name of James Maxwell, pioneered the theoretical verification of the presence of radio waves. Then 42 years later, in 1888, Heinrich Hertz, a German, experimentally demonstrated the presence of radio waves. A major breakthrough indeed because since then, the interest and knowledge of radio waves has shown rapid and remarkable progress.
Guglielmo Marconi, an Italian, invented wireless telegraphy, and later succeeded in transmitting radio waves across the Atlantic. In essence, Marconi was an amateur, what we now call a "ham". So, it is reasonable to say that the history of amateur radio started at the dawn of radio communications technology.
The number of hams who dabbled in radio research gradually increased thereafter. However, when more and more hams began to transmit radio waves of whatever frequency they chose, the United States stepped in and enacted the "Wireless Control Law" restricting the experiments of hams. This act obligated them to use only short waves above 1,500 kHz (200m or less in wave length), which was not very practical at the time.
However, hams were able to "turn evil into good fortune" when they made a great discovery specifically they proved that short waves are highly effective for remote telecommunications. Soon afterward, commercial radio stations, which had been using only medium and long waves began to use short waves and this epochal discovery brought amateur radio communications public acceptance, and enabled it to establish a solid foundation.
In Japan, radio experiments scaled new heights and the number of ham increased noticeably in the 1920s. In 1927, hams were licensed to have experimental private stations, but found it difficult to obtain parts for their handmade wireless equipment. These early enthusiasts encountered a lot of difficulties before they could transmit. Despite the adverse situation, the number of amateur radio stations in Japan increased to about 300 by the time World War II broke out.
In the postwar years, amateur radio communications became very popular in the United States and other countries. In Japan, progress was also rapid after the ban was lifted in 1952. In parallel with the ascent of technology, innovations in radio communications proceeded at a high pace in industrialized nations.
With the very exciting and challenging advent of the electronic age approaching, techniques were upgraded to include the use of satellites for image and data communications. This hobby plus rapid technological advances will continue to revolutionize global communications in the 20th and 21st centuries reducing distances and bringing people closer together.
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