eHam.net - Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) Community

Call Search
     

New to Ham Radio?
My Profile

Community
Articles
Forums
News
Reviews
Friends Remembered
Strays
Survey Question

Operating
Contesting
DX Cluster Spots
Propagation

Resources
Calendar
Classifieds
Ham Exams
Ham Links
List Archives
News Articles
Product Reviews
QSL Managers

Site Info
eHam Help (FAQ)
Support the site
The eHam Team
Advertising Info
Vision Statement
About eHam.net



[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?

from collected by Martin Brossman on September 10, 2006
Website: www.toinquire.com/ham
View comments about this article!


Where did "Ham" in Ham Radio come from?

Collected comments of other Ham's by Martin Brossman -- KI4CFS

I was answering the questions, “what is ham radio” again and then they asked “where did "Ham" in Ham Radio come from?” I had no answer and decided I would go to my source of fun and experts around Ham radio on the web.. www.eHam.net! Here are some of the replies and I welcome any additions as well as web resources that relate to this.

Where did "Ham" in Ham Radio come from?

"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 each other across town, could effectively jam all the other operations in the area. When this happened, frustrated commercial operators would call the ship whose weaker signals had been blotted out by 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.

Next comment:

In the early '50's, my Elmer told me that Ham evolved from the way English amateurs pronounced 'amateur, i.e. like "hamateur". I don't know where he obtained that information.

Next comment:

"Hamateur" would have been "amateur" with a cockney accent.

Telegraph code operators used to call other operators with poor "fists" "ham-fisted" operators, maybe it started with that.

This topic has been thoroughly discussed and researched by the League and other organizations for many years with no proof as to real origin.

Next comment:

"HAM" is an acronym made up of the first letters in the names of Hertz, Armstrong and Marconi - three radio pioneers.

Next comment:

"Ham radio" was called that as early as 1909, according to public archives from (as one example) the Amateur Radio Club of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.). Copies in public domain and easily found on the web. Edwin H. Armstrong was born in 1890 and in 1909 was only 19 years old. He wasn't famous yet and didn't achieve any notariety until about 1920.

Next comment:

HAM comes from the initials of Hiram Apercy Maxim, first president of the ARRL. He didn't like his middle name, Apercy, so he dropped the 'A'. How's that for a new old wives' tale? :-)

Next comment:

If you take the name Hiram and drop the "ir" you end up with Ham. Simple :-)

Next comment:

To me is really simple and i can give you a few who agree HAM means
..............Haven't Any Money

So what are your comments on this? Do you think you have the REAL answer to this questions? Are their other words like this you would like to know the history about? Like “Rag Chew” or “lid”? If you have questions, answers, or comments please add them! What ever you do remember this is a “hobby that can help others” and have fun!

Thanks for all the contributed!

Martin Brossman - KI4CFS

Member Comments:
This article has expired. No more comments may be added.
 
Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by K0BG on September 10, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I do my best not to use the term, word, what have you; ham. I much prefer the word amateur.

Aside from my preferences, my ex wife responded to a mutual friend when asked why she didn't get her amateur license, "A ham is half a pig's butt, and one ass in the family is enough!" I haven't used the term since.

Alan, KØBG
www.k0bg.com
 
RE: Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by LNXAUTHOR on September 10, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
- i believe this quesiton has been asked here before...

ARRL's reasoning:

http://www.arrl.org/whyham.html

AC6V's info:

http://www.ac6v.com/73.htm

- btw, 'best 73s' was good enough for 1AW, so it's good enough for me...
 
RE: Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by WA1RNE on September 10, 2006 Mail this to a friend!

I do my best not to use the term, word, what have you; ham. I much prefer the word amateur.


Alan;

Personally, I believe we would be better off without either word.


To the general public, especially those who are more familiar with the Internet than amateur radio, both words tend to imply a lack of expertise.


As discussed on other posts, I'd like to see the service renamed; something like General Radio Service, Standard Radio Service, etc.


Even if the Amateur Radio Service became the "General Radio Service", "ham" radio would probably take a long time to wear off, maybe never.


But when a group of operators is being introduced at state Emergency Management meeting, "General Radio Service" definitely sounds a heck of a lot better.


Chris, WA1RNE
 
RE: Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by W6TH on September 10, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
.

Ham: an inexperienced,"not matured or ripe" cw operator.

Remember that "Land Line Morse" was being used at that time on the airwaves and not the code we use today.

This is the way I first heard it some 75 years ago. The "lid" came along about the same time which was first used by Amateur Radio Operators for a very poor sending arm,(fist), moreso than for his receiving ability.

Being called a "ham" today is not for every one, so I would say be very careful who you call one.(just kidding).

73, W6TH.

.:
 
RE: Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by W5RB on September 10, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I prefer to use "licensed radio operator " , when it comes to interagency stuff .
 
RE: Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by WI7B on September 10, 2006 Mail this to a friend!

Landland telegraphers were calling operators who were not proficient "plugs" and "hams" by 1875. Dodge was one of the first to put it in print. I bought the 1908 Edition of his book "The Telegraph Instructor" and can confirm this same definition existed in the first 1899 edition. Those pages are replicated here...

=> http://wi7b.org/Ham/index.htm

Hams were in many cases the rebellious "techies" and "hackers" of the early 20th Century. They took up a name of derision, like "Ham", and made it both a badge of honor and a sign of defiance.

Ham radio's advent was not just a revolutionizing influence in technology, but in society as a whole, with young women hams coming forward in both technical and engineering professions.

73,

---* Ken
 
RE: Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by W4LGH on September 10, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
You know when someone acts/cuts up they call him a HAM. I think this is how it got started. You know to the ordinary un-trained eye what we do would be considered cutting up, or Hamming it up! The only fact about it that I have read, was it was slang, and it was NOT considered good slang. Now when it did it become acceptable?? Who knows. Kinda like COPS..that was slang, and not necessarly good at the time, but today its ok.

Sooooo...Ham it up! Have fun...thats what its all about!!

73 de W4LGH - Alan
http://www.w4lgh.com
 
Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by KD4AL on September 10, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I strongly agree with the British/Cockney theory of origin, though I have a slight variant of it. Cockneys would pronounce the word "Ham" as "'Am", dropping the "H". If someone abbreviated "Amateurs" as "Ams", then it would sound like a Cockney saying "Hams".

Regardless, I think the Brits are responsible for the origin of the term.

My $.02,
Bill
KD4AL
 
RE: Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by KX8N on September 10, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
"Even if the Amateur Radio Service became the "General Radio Service", "ham" radio would probably take a long time to wear off, maybe never. "

Well, consider that "ham" has never been an official term, and it's still with us. There's no reason right now that we should technically be called "hams". And look where we are right now - posting on eHAM.net. I doubt it will go away, and there's nothing really wrong with it, either.

As far as the use of the word "amateur", I think that suits us, too. I play drums. I'm a professional musician because I make money when I play. If I didn't make money at it, I'd be an amateur musician. If I were a professional radio operator, I'd be a broadcaster or something like that. I'm not - I use radio as a hobby, as an enjoyable leisure activity. I am indeed an amateur radio operator. I guess that's why they call us that.
 
RE: Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by K8MHZ on September 10, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Deja Vu?

I will stick with my 'ham fisted amateur' theory.

Around here more people know our hobby as ham radio so that is the term I use when speaking. If I mention the same in writing, say like in a resume, I use the term amateur radio. I may also use other terms depending upon whom I am addressing. Some of my recent choices have been radio geek, gadget fanatic, airwave jockey and supreme commander of electromagnetic forces.

We did get stuck with rather unsavory choices though, didn't we? But most people I know look up to ham radio operators and don't really consider the term derogatory in the least. 'Ham' has been with us for a long, long time and I don't mind being called one at all. In fact I am rather proud of the term. We should work to make sure that we all are.

 
RE: Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by NN8B on September 10, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
"Kinda like COPS..that was slang, and not necessarly good at the time, but today its ok. "

When the reporters would send their stories to their newspapers by telegraph they had many many abbreviations to shorten the time it took to get the story in. One of those abbreviations was COP which stood for Chief of Police. Most likely the term COP came from that abbreviation.

73,

Don, NN8B
 
RE: Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by KI4CFS on September 10, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I have fun with the word 'Ham' by saying "I have spent my life being a 'ham' now I am a legal one!" to break the ice and it goes over well followed by more questions...

:)
KI4CFS
 
Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by W1YW on September 11, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I don't get the adoption, in the last 20 years, of a cartoon of a 'pig' to go with 'ham radio'.

Many of you guys actually have license plate holders and callsign badges with PIGS on them. Not to mention VE exam posters...

Really, really declasse...

Chip W1YW
 
RE: Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by N4CQR on September 11, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Some (quiet fitting) suggestions from Google:

High And Mighty

Hold And Modify

Helping All Mankind

Home Amateur Mechanic*

Hospital And Morgue

Home And Medicated

I am somewhat surprised that no one mentioned the radio construction article in Home Amateur Machanic Magazine.

Craig~

 
RE: Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by W9PMZ on September 11, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
"Kinda like COPS..that was slang, and not necessarly good at the time, but today its ok. "

My understanding of that term is that a police agency some time ago made their badges of copper. Ever hear the bad guy in movies say, "I'm gonna get the coppers!"?

73,

Carl - W9PMZ
 
RE: Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by KC8VWM on September 11, 2006 Mail this to a friend!

As discussed on other posts, I'd like to see the service renamed; something like General Radio Service, Standard Radio Service, etc.

-----------

So you would you like to see Amateur Radio named after Citizen's Band radio?

In Canada, the "General Radio Service" is exactly just that.





 
Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by AI2IA on September 11, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Legends and folk tales are a necessary part of life. They teach us that uncertainty is not always a bad thing, that sometimes we must wonder and doubt to find truth, and that mystery and ideals often go hand-in-hand. This is why it is a very good thing that we will never know where the word "ham" for radio amateur really came from. If we knew for sure, it would just become another ordinary word.
 
RE: Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by K8MHZ on September 11, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
"...and callsign badges with PIGS on them."

Do they come with an LED that flashes the owner's call sign in CW? Now THAT would be phat!

Let all of us that so proudly display the pig license plate work to assure that a person seeing it knows it's for radio and not because we eat in our cars and never clean them out.

The local CBers call us 'hamsters'. I don't know why but I assume the name came from the condition that occurs when some people get on a CB radio where they have to use slang for everything they say.

I prefer to let the entity that issued my license declare what I am to be called. If we have a driver license, we are called drivers. I possess a Journeyman's license and I am unquestionably a Journeyman, so if we have an amateur radio license we should be called amateur radios, right?

 
RE: Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by F6IQA on September 11, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Highly Associal Man

;)
 
RE: Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by VE3LXL on September 11, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
After more than a century, I don't think there's any way to know for sure how exactly the term "ham" got attached to amateur radio. I think that all we can do is to go with the explanation that seems the simplest and most likely, and in my opinion that would be that the term comes from the old landline telegrapher's use of the word "ham" to describe a poor operator. Even today CW operators still use a lot of terms and conventions established by 19th century telegraphers, so it wouldn't be anything unusual if "ham" also had that origin.

I agree with those who think "ham" is an unfortunate term, but I think we're stuck with it. There's no way you could convince most hams, let alone non-hams, to stop using it.

Someone in a previous post compared the hams of a century ago to today's computer hackers. The term hacker has two meanings today. The ordinary public uses it as a term for people who break into computer systems, but among software developers themselves the word has a different meaning - it refers to a very technically adept "alpha geek" programmer - those developers who can "hack together" a clever and innovative program without having to do extensive planning first. The term "hacking" was originally an insult applied to these types of developers by those who prefered a more orderly, disciplined, and bureaucratic approach, but then these developers adopted the term to describe themselves. I wonder if the same thing happened a century ago with "ham" - the amateurs of the time heard themselves described as "hams" as an insult, and then they adopted the term themselves for the same sort of reason as led software developers to adopt the term "hacker" for themselves.

BTW, I can confirm what KC8VWM said. In Canada "General Radio Service" is the official, legal name for CB radio.
 
RE: Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by K4JF on September 11, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I use "ham" and "amateur" interchangably. There is absolutely nothing wrong with "amateur". ALL it means is that we are not paid, but are doing something because we want to, and want to do well, not just to get by for a paycheck.
 
Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by AI2IA on September 11, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
To those who dislike the label "ham" I offer this consideration:
Just as the map is not the territory, so the word is not the entity signified by it. Words have associations attached to them by individuals. When someone who understands the use of the word ham for amateur radio operator sees or hears someone else who is an amateur radio operator, the behavior of the amateur will be associated with the word "ham." Also, the word "ham" and its associations will be applied to that operator. So, for better or for worse, you will be stuck with it. If you don't care for it, at least you can improve the image of a "ham" by your attitude as reflected in your appearance and behavior. Like it or not, you will contribute something.
 
RE: Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by AD5TD on September 11, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
"G1337haax0rs: I am l33t haxor gimme j000s r35p3c7 & uber skillz pls"

There is jargon from every generation, it will be interesting to see how long the "L337 5433k" lasts.

How long has the term "Ham" been around?
 
RE: Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by N9XY on September 11, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
How about this one!

http://us.geocities.com/the_loaded_dog/ham/help/help1.html
 
RE: Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by WA1RNE on September 11, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
by KC8VWM on September 11, 2006

So you would you like to see Amateur Radio named after Citizen's Band radio?

In Canada, the "General Radio Service" is exactly just that.



Charles,


Not quite. Canada has what's known as a GMRS or General Mobile Radio Service, similar to the U.S. version.

It is not called the General Radio Service.

http://strategis.ic.gc.ca/epic/internet/insmt-gst.nsf/en/h_sf01847e.html


In my previous post I made 2 suggestions: GRS and Standard Radio Service. These are only that - suggestions.


But since you bring up CB; without the intention of starting a CB bashing session, herein is justification for a better name.


>CB can be utilized by Emergency Management officials along with amateur radio.

>CB does not require a license; we obviously do -and as per Part 97.1:

The rules and regulations in this part are designed to provide an
amateur radio service having a fundamental purpose as expressed in the following principles:

(a) Recognition and enhancement of the value of the amateur service to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communication service, particularly with respect to providing emergency communications.

(b) Continuation and extension of the amateur's proven ability to

contribute to the advancement of the radio art.

(c) Encouragement and improvement of the amateur service through rules which provide for advancing skills in both the communication and technical phases of the art.

(d) Expansion of the existing reservoir within the amateur radio

service of trained operators, technicians, and electronics experts.

(e) Continuation and extension of the amateur's unique ability to enhance international goodwill.


Our charter is much more technical and public service specific , but to be quite honest, the *name* amateur isn't that far off from "citizens" and doesn't provide the distinction we deserve.



** Also, not trying to bust them, but why is it that 70% of replies don't actual address the person they are responding to?


Chris, WA1RNE
 
RE: Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by KC8VWM on September 11, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Charles,

Not quite. Canada has what's known as a GMRS or General Mobile Radio Service, similar to the U.S. version.

It is not called the General Radio Service.

http://strategis.ic.gc.ca/epic/internet/insmt-gst.nsf/en/h_sf01847e.html

----------------

But, I am not talking about GMRS, I am talking about GRS or "General Radio Service".. AKA CB Radio.


"What Is General Radio Service?"

UNLICENSED SERVICE

The General Radio Service (GRS), popularly known as "CB", is a public communications, low-cost, short-range two-way radiocommunication service. The range varies, but is typically about 5 to 15 km, for car-to-car use; 12 to 25 km, for car-to-home conversations and 20 to 40 km between base stations.

Industry Canada Publication on the General Radio Service (GRS).

http://strategis.ic.gc.ca/epic/internet/insmt-gst.nsf/vwapj/ric18.pdf/$FILE/ric18.pdf

73
 
Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by K2BKS on September 11, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Have you ever wondered why we radio amateurs are called Hams? Well it goes something like this--the word ham was applied in 1908 and was the call letters of one of the first amateur wireless stations operated by some members of the Harvard Radio Club (sic). They were Albert Hyman, Bob Almy and Peggie Murray. At first they called their station Hyman-Almy-Murray. Tapping out such a long name in code soon called for a revision, and they changed it to Hy-A1-Mu, using the first two letters of each name. Early in 1909 some confusion resulted between signals from HYALMU and a Mexican ship named Myalmo, so they decided to use only the first letter of each name and identified their station as HAM.
In the early pioneer and unregulated days of radio, amateur operators picked their own frequencies and call letters. Then, as now, some amateurs had better signals than some commercial stations. The resulting interference finally came to the attention of Congressional Committees in Washington and they gave much thought to proposed legislation designed to critically limit amateur activity.
In 1911, Albert Hyman chose the controversial Wireless Regulations Bill as the topic of his thesis at Harvard. His instructor insisted that a copy be sent to Senator David Walsh, a member of the committee hearing the Bill. The Senator was so impressed that he sent for Mr. Hyman to appear before the Committee. Hyman was put on the stand and described how the little amateur station, HAM, was built, and he almost cried when he told the crowded committee room that if the bill went through, they would have to close up the station because they could not afford the license fees and other requirements which were set up in the Bill.
The debate started and the little station, HAM, became a symbol of all the little amateur stations in the country that were crying out to be saved from the menace and greed of the big commercial stations who didn't want them around. Finally the Bill got to the floor of Congress and every speaker talked about the poor little station, HAM.
That's how it all got started. You can find the whole story in the Congressional Record. Nationwide publicity identified the station HAM with amateurs. From that time to this, and probably to the end of time, in radio, every amateur is a ham.


The President and Fellows of Harvard College.
 
RE: Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by WA1RNE on September 11, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Charles;

OK, in addition to a GMRS, there is a GRS in Canada. I stand corrected.



Anyway, be it "Amateur" or "Citizens", it's outdated and doesn't appropriately describe our charter.


Next on the list is "Standard Radio Service" or something similar.


Does Canada or any other country have one of these?


BTW, Nigeria and Brunei don't count.......


 
RE: Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by KB5DPE on September 12, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
"To the general public, especially those who are more familiar with the Internet than amateur radio, both words tend to imply a lack of expertise"

Your point is...?
 
RE: Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by KC8VWM on September 12, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
No, I don't believe Nigeria or Brunei have these services in place. However, I do like your proposal.

73
 
RE: Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by W0OPW on September 12, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
HAM came from 'Hiram and Mike', the first club started by W1AW.
 
RE: Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by N4QA on September 12, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Who put the dip in the dip da dip da dip?

Who put the sham in the shama lama ding dong?
 
RE: Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by WB2WIK on September 12, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
>RE: Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From? Reply
by KC8VWM on September 12, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
No, I don't believe Nigeria or Brunei have these services in place. However, I do like your proposal.<

::Wait a minute, I get proposals from Nigeria all the time. Usually they involve me getting six million dollars if I'll give my bank account number to somebody so they can make a direct deposit. What a deal! I'm pretty sure I have about sixty million on the way, very soon.
 
RE: Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by KC8VWM on September 12, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
You too huh?...

Been so busy lately with so many of these bank account tranfers, that I had to set up a website to handle all the deposit requests into my account.

Now everything is a snap. I just instruct them to go ahead and wire the funds to the director of my favorite U.S. financial institution here:

http://www.ustreas.gov/usss/director.shtml


73
 
RE: Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by WA1RNE on September 12, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
You may get a couple thousand IOU's and Mickey Finn's from Nigeria, but fat chance you get any proposals from Brunei anytime soon - one of the richest 3rd world countries on earth.



If you do, well lucky you.........


WA1RNE
 
RE: Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by KC8VWM on September 12, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
If I do get anything from Brunei anytime in the near future, then expect to find yourself a new IC 7800 arriving in your mailbox shortly after. :)

73
 
RE: Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by WA1RNE on September 13, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
That would be very kind of you, Charles.......


WA1RNE
 
RE: Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by N2VJX on September 13, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
While we're in the topic of where did the word "ham" come from. Why do some Amateur Radio Operators sign of with 73's? Where did "73's come from? CB 10 codes? LOL :)
 
RE: Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by KC8VWM on September 13, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
"73" was a numerical term derived from the "92" code system used back in the landline telegraph days.


http://scard.buffnet.net/pages/tele/wurules1866/92code.html



dit dit
 
RE: Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by KC8VWM on September 13, 2006 Mail this to a friend!

Other "hamspeak" origins:


http://www.ac6v.com/73.htm
 
RE: Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by WI7B on September 13, 2006 Mail this to a friend!


Lost in time, my ***. Denial is always the first defense involve an unsavory family history or relative. In polite parlance, "ham" meant "an operator who was not proficient."

The implications of "ham" were far worse. Read these accounts of our common ancestors to find out how "ham radio" REALLY began...


Electrical World, May 25, 1907, page 1023:

"WIRELESS AND LAWLESS.--According to advices from Washington, the apparent condition that there is no law giving authority to government officers to protect official wireless stations in the exchange of messages is giving a great deal of trouble to the station at the Washington navy yard. A youth living near by, the son of a policeman, has set up a station of his own, and takes delight in interpolating messages during official exchanges. He has represented himself to be at distant naval stations or at sea on warships equipped with wireless apparatus. The local police authorities were appealed to, but said they had no power to interfere with the young man's experiments. A possible remedy, justified by the political situation, would be to declare a state of war to be existing in the vicinity of the White House."

QST, March, 1917, page 11:

"With the coming of "WA", "DF", and a raft of ship stations, I finally decided that I was not making enough noise and, a larger set would have to be installed. I scraped around, and finally got hold of a quarter kw type transformer from Clapp-Eastham. This worked great, and the stations were getting thicker and thicker. I cannot definitely recall who was the next amateur I heard, but I do recall that Dr. Hudson was one of the pioneers. He made an awful slash in the air one night and I gave him shout and asked "Who is it ? He managed to tick out very slowly--"This is Dr. Hudson; I am at Dr. Besse's house on Broadway and 144th Street. Who are you?". I told him who I was, and extended him a hearty welcome to the atmosphere. He asked me if I would come down to help him put up an aerial, as he too wanted to get in the game. I told him I would, but sorry I am to this day, I never got around to it.

It so turned out that Dr. Besse was "a regular guy", when it came to building transformers. He would turn out a couple of kilowatts transformer over night, so I got him to make me one. Poor Dr. Besse. I have always felt sorry for him. He used to sign "HB", and although he said "A bear can learn to telegraph," his speed never exceeded five words per minute. McClarney, who used to be night operator at the Waldorf, nicknamed him "Queen of the Glue Factory," and it always stuck to him. How well I can hear old Mac now calling up "HB" and proceeding at the five word per minute speed, saying "P L E A S E K E E P O U T," only to have the "Queen of the Glue Factory" come back with "What? please send slower". Mac had a most terrible temper, and a most beautiful way of swearing. He would tell old "HB" one or two things at about forty words per minute, and then finally go to the telephone and tell him what he had so vainly attempted to say by wireless."
 
RE: Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by N2VJX on September 13, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
KC8VWM - Thanks for the link, it has a lot of useful information regarding "Ham" history

..
 
RE: Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by KC8VWM on September 13, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
:)
 
Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by W1YW on September 13, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
"To those who dislike the label "ham" I offer this consideration:
Just as the map is not the territory, so the word is not the entity signified by it. Words have associations attached to them by individuals. When someone who understands the use of the word ham for amateur radio operator sees or hears someone else who is an amateur radio operator, the behavior of the amateur will be associated with the word "ham." Also, the word "ham" and its associations will be applied to that operator. So, for better or for worse, you will be stuck with it. If you don't care for it, at least you can improve the image of a "ham" by your attitude as reflected in your appearance and behavior. Like it or not, you will contribute something. "

----------------------------------------------

The association people have, despite our pseudo-intellectual and oft falsely attributed allusions on it
is:

HAM = PIG

So using 'pig' insignias on callsign badges, license plates, VE exam notices and so on, only affirms this.

Thirty years ago, if you, as a 'ham', alluded to 'pig', no one would talk to you.

True stuff.

73,
Chip W1YW

 
RE: Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by KDUV7462 on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
for the people who dislike the word "HAM" regardless of where/when it comes from:

before i owned a transmitter, I knew what a "HAM" was, if even only vaguely. Heck, the history book when it mentioned WWII spoke of the invaluable services the amateur radio operators in america provided to the war in a technological fashion, and at times that technological advnatage was all he HAD going for us at the moment. They made sure to mention, almost like a definition, that a "HAM" was long-term slang for amateur radio operators.

other than that, the first few "brushes" I had with the hams, spoke well of the term. When a "really really bright guy" offered the shade tree mechanics advice on the electrical problem in a car one time when i was but a wee lad, one guy asked "how come he knows so much about the electronics in the car?" "Aw, he's a HAM. Whaddaya expect?"

When i was young, a HAM, though i only vaguely knew it had somethign to do with radios, was a real asset to have around:

electrical in the house or garage or shop
car electrical system
any broadcst band receiver
any TV
the toaster, a heater, a dishwasher
SWEATING A COPPER PIPE
FIXING A RADIATOR
how to get the antenna/rotor for the TV to work better

basically, if electrons moved, or soldering was involved, a HAM was the guy to ask for advice. They were, like, these experts running around, a few in every small town, like "free engineers". And the skinny was they were all REAL bright.

that mystique, esprit-de-corps, and "awe" surrounding it slowly diminished over the years somewhat, to the non-radio guy in the street.

I like electronics as a hobby, I have to have a sideband 11M rig in every car or truck i own, i like to "tinker" with darn near any device that has a stray electron in it somewhere, or understand if only basically how it works.

to me, the term was always a positive thing.

back in another life, when i was still a software engineer, we were wrapping up a big job when the location has some sort of "catastrophe". My boss and me were standing around in our suits, while the whole floor was in a an uproar. Two big control panels with displays and meters and indicators were acting up; one was down and dark, and the other was erratic and nonsensical in its operations.

apparently, the "service tech" had been there twice; stuff was getting the worse for the tech's efforts; the techs werent even available for another week, and the word was going around that was likely a GOOD thing.

Me and my boss got asked if we could do anything, we were computer guys. "we do software; were not electronics engineers", my boss offered.

I waited, and got a coffee and approached the older guy in charge, sweating bullets. "Can I offer some free advice on this? If you dont mind and all."

"sure. I'm ready to hang myself. We gotta have these controlpanels UP and RUNNING."

"you got any hams here?" "You mean the radio guys? I dont know." "You mind if i put a small team together for you?"

"What the heck. Go on."


In a loud, clear, voice... I said:

"If anyone here personally owns a 'scope, raise youre right hand."

3 hands went up around the floor.

"Keep youre hands up. If anyone here knows morse code, raise youre LEFT hand."

two more hands went up, and one guy now had BOTH hands up. Cool.

"Here's my reccomendation, sir. That guy with both hands up, is in charge of a small work group. Whatever he says, goes. The other two guys with one hand up, they work under that two handed guy. No one else is allowed within 50 feet of the control panels. Thats youre best bet."

"But... the union electricians... they..."

"Nope. Sir, the electricians are good for motors, 3 phase, lighting... but you dont want them ANYwhere near the control panels. Unless one of them had their hand up."

The owner is thinking now, then he said "The guy you want in charge of this little group? He's the JANITOR."

"Yesterday he's the janitor. Today, he's the only electronics expert you have in the building, most likely. Those other two guys, the ones that own 'scopes, they're into electronics too."

"You really think this will work?"

"I think its youre best CHANCE."

"Okay. nothings getting done anyways. Try it."

I told him to send the 3 guys out in a work truck, sonce it was almost lunch anyways, to run to their homes and load up any electronics gear they thought they might want to have with them, and to give them all the overtime they wanted, till the techs could get back out here.

by the end of the day, when we were done in the computer room, they had figured out that the "sensors" being read were operating much like a car reads a water sensor, LMAO, and were chasing the lines around. All 3 were taking readings with meters and the two O'scopes they had.

By the close of the place the NEXT day, they thought the problem was in the power supplies on the control panels.

By the time me and my boss got back monday morning, the shop was running again. On lunch, we went to eat with the 3 guys who were kind of walking around like they owned the place, and now all three were the guys working the control panels for jobs, LMAO.

apparently, the power supplies were "crap" units, and "overworked". As they pooped out, voltage dropped, and stuff started working erratically. Then it got worse slowly, then died. The "techs" were just replacing power supplies left and right like light bulbs, and sometimes not the right power supplies.

the one guy said they just "propped up" all the power supplies with extra capacitors, once they got individual meters working one at a time with the one good power supply they found new in there, and figured this out.

These 3 guys now had raises and better jobs, the one guy went from janitor to control panel supervisor, in a weekend.

OH YEAH... the "two handed guy" was of course a high ticket HAM, one of the one handed guys was a low ticet HAM, and the third guy had a hobby where he built expensive radio controlled cars and planes all weekend.



HAMS are an invaluable resource anywhere you go. 20 years ago, these 3 guys would probably have ALREADY been running the control panels, and talking to the techs when they came to service the equipment, and this catastrophe never would have happened in the first place.

I dont know WHY nowadays the only things the average guy on the street thinks of when HAMS come up is "people talking over the television" and "wasting money making the bedroom look like a NASA control room"

dont EVER think the term "HAM" doesnt sound "good" or "fitting" or "proper". There's nothing BETTER to be called, really, even if people have forgotten this.

I remember the owner asking me how i DID that a week after the crisis had passed. I told him "I know if it was ME, I'd have wanted Dr. Filchock and Dr. Pyzdrowski here, thats all I know. Those three were the best I could do on short notice."
 
RE: Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by W4MY on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
COP was the nickname first attributed to the policeman of New York City at the turn of the 19th century (that's 1800 for those of you in Rio Linda) due to the fact they wore rather large copper badges on their lapel.

They were first called "Copper" then it came to be shortened to cop.

Another interesting fact is that the New York City Police Department was the very first orginized police force. It was started to quell the annual Christmas riots that were starting to get out of hand.

Teddy Roosevelt was a New York City police commissioner.
 
Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by W1YW on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I fear that this recent CB'er contribution only enforces my opinion that CB'ers have no basis to contribute to this forum.

Ask questions, learn, grow--of course. 'Share' the CB culture? No thanks.

If, as I was, you start in CB and then come into ham radio, that's great--betterment is the American way--but frankly, I as a ham have no interest in your CB perspective nor 'corporate culture'.

So please: keep in mind that many, if not most hams here, do NOT share the perspective nor interest of CB'ers, nor freebanders for that matter.

ANd, if you are a freebander and a ham, then please let us know so we can get the FCC to throw the book at you.

Have a pleasant day.

73,
Chip W1YW
 
RE: Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by W6SE on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I can't tell you from whence the term arrived however, from some of my late fathers’ attempts at prose, I can offer the following:

“In my young and impressionable mind the depot was the place where mysterious telegraph sounders set up their eternal "clickety-clack" and men wearing green eye shades and black sleeve guards solemnly attended their operation. All this excited my interest a great deal more than did the "hand-crank" telephone we had at home, for the telegraph seemed to connect with almost everywhere while our telephone seldom brought us anything but local calls. Indeed whenever a newsworthy event or calamity occurred, a crier was sent out from the depot to announce it. For instance, I recall word of the armistice at the end of World War I being called out by someone walking down the middle of the street (this was 1918) shouting out the good news for all to hear. So also the result of the legendary bout between the Champion Jess Willard and Challenger Jack Dempsey, a year or so later. This sort of thing was, I suppose, merely a continuation of the function of the town crier, carried on with somewhat less formality than in former times. It was my association of the telegraph with far-away places and events that led me to learn the American Morse code at the age of ten, or thereabouts. In this I was assisted by listening, while at the depot, for apprentice telegraphers sending to each other on unused circuits. It was their practice to tap out the word HAM on an idle circuit in order to attract the attention of other learners. As a matter of fact this was rather like our Ham use of CQ. Before long I was busily fashioning telegraph sounders out of door hinges and Ford spark coil primaries. Then wires were strung and a neighborhood telegraph line appeared, but it was difficult to interest my playmates in it, for learning manual telegraphy seems to require a unique and specialized dedication. So you see it was, in reality, no more than a small boy's curiosity about far-away things, events and places that sparked my interest in communicating and in the means for accomplishing it.”
 
RE: Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by KC2OZU on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
The point of "amateur" conveying a negative connotation is that many of us desire to do work in emergency services. In many areas, selling the concept of amateur radio is difficult, mainly because organizations hear the word "amateur" and it conjures up (this is what I've been told by various emergency services workers) images of a bunch of unskilled people rag-chewing on walkie-talkies.

However, I agree with many who have suggested that the amateurs interested in emergency communications adopt a name specific to ourselves, such as Certified Radio Operator, Emergency Communications Volunteer, or something of that sort.

Specifically, I think that in the emergency services community, if we just labelled ourselves as Volunteer Radio Operators, it would not only negate the negative image associated with "amateur", but give a boost to our image by emphasizing the "Volunteer" aspect.

Then again, I could write pages on selling what we do to emergency agencies.
 
RE: Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by N5EAT on September 15, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
To W9PMZ: I believe you are correct about your "copper" theory. My grandfather was a constable in Sturgis, Mi in the 1920's. He still had his copper badge when I was a boy in the 50's and he told me the same story.

He said he thought that the term "copper" was originally a police thing: coppers were the foot patrolmen. Police who carried gold or silver badges were known as "sir"....
 
RE: Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by AD7DB on September 15, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
K2BKS,

I've heard that story before about poor little radio station HAM and how the whole story can supposedly be found in the Congressional Record.

Funny thing, no one has ever cited exactly where in the Congressional Record this can be found.
 
Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by W7DDD on September 16, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I know one place the terms 'Ham' and 'Amateur Radio' have ceased to exist already - Fry's Electronic Superstore in Renton, Wash. Went there and after cruising dozens of acres of electronic gadgets, couldn't find any ham radio stuff. I asked a clerk and then another, and then another. After six, I gave up. None had ever heard either term, not ever. They didn't Clue One about what I was talking about. One even made me write down the word HAM; thought they were misunderstanding what I was saying. Musta been my cockney accent.......
 
Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by G4REK on September 16, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Amateur comes from the french meaning, a lover of ....
I thought everyone new that.......

JIM...........
 
Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by KC8IKW on September 16, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
the word ham had came from a phrase help all man
 
RE: Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by WA2JJH on September 19, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
If a ham is an amatuer radio operator, does that make an SWL....a roast beef?
CBers have been called "chicken banders"
 
Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by W6PMR on September 21, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Is this a Kosher subject?
 
RE: Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by NN6EE on September 21, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Usually a good dose of RF radiation kills trichnosis in raw pork, so thusly it stands to reason that's why we're called "HAMS"!!!

Make any sense???

Oh well! :-)))

Jim/ee

PS: Not one real SLAM on this particular thread!
Maybe it's a trend?
 
Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by KI4CFS on September 22, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Any more comments on: Where did "Ham" in Ham Radio come from?

AND where did "Lid" come from?

AND where did "Rag Chew" come from?

Thanks for all the post!
KI4CFS
http://www.toinquire.com/ham
 
RE: Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by KE7GOJ on September 22, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
** Also, not trying to bust them, but why is it that 70% of replies don't actual address the person they are responding to?

Becuase the Forum isn't threaded, you can't really tell, unless there is a quote, which message they are actually responding to.

I have also seen responses, with quotes, to messages that don't appear in the list, which leads me to believe that some messages are deleted (for various reasons). Again, becuase the Forum is not "threaded", there is no way to know which responses are associated with which posts. A threaded forum, if they removed a comment, could remove all resplies to that as well.

But of course, that doesn't address the real question of the thread.

I do find in interesting, and I have to comment, that I am surprised that no one has yet managed to find a way to bring up any of the following:
1) ARRL
2) dumbing down of the tests
3) code/no code

Oops. I guess I just did ;)

73 Mike KE7GOJ
 
Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by WB2GMK on September 27, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
W1YW: what a great story! Your grammer, punctuation and spelling sucks, but don't mind me, I used to write advertising for a living about 100 years ago, so that sort of stuff matters to me. You could try to brush up on that. But what an excellent story. I salute you! Shows we hams are made of good stuff, even if many of us are socially retarded and never kissed a girl.

LID comes from young, inexperienced landline telegraph operators, who would put the lid of a pipe tobacco can on their sounder so they could distinguish it's sound from the others in a busy telegrah office. As technology progressed, "lid operator" came to denote an inexperienced youth on the radio.

Rag Chew comes from a well worn expression for bull shitting or "chewing the fat", which was also expressed as "chewing the rag". Nowadays, the similar expressions are "jaw jacking", "ratchet jawing" and of course, the ever popular "bull shitting". Just means idle chit chat, which we hams are damn good at!

Pray for victory over the dark forces of Islam.
Ciao es 73
 
Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by WB2GMK on September 27, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Oh yeah, copper. Cop. It comes from England. The bobbies had bright copper buttons on their coats, thus the name "copper buttons", shortened to "copper", then "cop", just came over on the boat. Police in the USA usually had badges made of tin, silver or gold. As far as I know, they were never made of copper, you need to save that for antenna wire!!!

I remember when my dad made sargeant in the Newark, NJ police department around 1957 or '58. As a little kid, I was so impressed with his shiney new gold badge, which replaced his silver patrolman's badge. Then, when I was on Signal Corp duty in Korea (38th Artillery) in 1969, operating on the bands as HL9UH, he made lieutenant, and the picture of the gold badge which he sent me was very impressive even to my jaded 19 year old eyes.

but an old man rambles on ... and on ...... pour me another drink....
 
Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by WB6PWW on September 28, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
In the early days an amature radio operator was permitted one-way broadcasts, these operators became very theatric in their dissertations and were known as HAMS just like when a bad actor was "hamming it up" on staget....

This was told to me by my high school electronics teacher and elmer W6WPP in 1976 while mentoring me....
 
Where Did 'Ham' in Ham Radio Come From?  
by KG4HUP on September 28, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
helping another man
 
Email Subscription
You are not subscribed to discussions on this article.

Subscribe!
My Subscriptions
Subscriptions Help

Related News & Articles
Ham Radio Supporting Field Medicine
My Story: July 17th 1964


Other Recent Articles
IARU Region 3 and APT Agreement:
Breakall Sends Students on a 'Fox Hunt' to Learn Ham Radio:
Ham Radio Towers Stolen In Effort:
Amateur Radio Operators to Converge In Claremore on March 13-14:
YL 33: The First Female Ham Radio Operators, and Their Awesome Legacy: