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

   Home   Help Search  
Pages: [1]   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: What was the purpose of the Extra License?  (Read 856 times)
K4EZD
Member

Posts: 90




Ignore
« on: July 26, 2014, 07:35:25 AM »

My undergraduate degree was in philosophy and I have no real knowledge or experience with electronics but always enjoyed playing with electronic gadgets.  I passed my Extra on the first try, missing one question but have no idea what most of it meant or of what practical value it is.  I got the Extra for the extra bandwidth on 20 for DX use but don’t really know what those exam questions have to do with my 20 meter operations?  Why do they have the Extra level and what did they think hams with that license could do that Generals can’t?  I also wonder why all Generals don’t take the Extra exam and then gradually the General level would become extinct.  Pleasant, non-sarcastic responses only please.   Wink
Logged
N3QE
Member

Posts: 2087




Ignore
« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2014, 07:54:57 AM »

You know, incentive licensing was very controversial when it was new back in the 60's too :-). Almost any issue of QST would have letters from those infuriated at the incentive proposals, and some of that you can still see today!

Original Extra exam was a 20WPM code test and a theory/rules exam about the subjects of the time... lots of detailed questions about tube amps, pi networks, AM and SSB modulation techniques and adjustments, the different rule sets at the time, some questions about these newfangled transistors.

Just like today, the extra CW segments was where the DX CW was concentrated.

There was also an "Advanced" license between General and Extra, whose main privilege delta over General was more phone bands. For a good while in the 70's and 80's I think Advanceds outnumbered Extras by a lot.

I do agree that the exams both then and now, tend to greatly favor folks who are good at taking tests. There's a lot of bright folks out there who just aren't good at written exams.

The rules&regulation questions of the exam have changed a lot. An extra from the 70's would barely recognize many of the modern rules questions on the Extra exam. And some of the modern questions about digital and video modes would be similarly confounding.
Logged
NK7Z
Member

Posts: 737


WWW

Ignore
« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2014, 08:24:36 AM »

My undergraduate degree was in philosophy and I have no real knowledge or experience with electronics but always enjoyed playing with electronic gadgets.  I passed my Extra on the first try, missing one question but have no idea what most of it meant or of what practical value it is.  I got the Extra for the extra bandwidth on 20 for DX use but don’t really know what those exam questions have to do with my 20 meter operations?  Why do they have the Extra level and what did they think hams with that license could do that Generals can’t?  I also wonder why all Generals don’t take the Extra exam and then gradually the General level would become extinct.  Pleasant, non-sarcastic responses only please.   Wink

I believe the incentive licensing program was intended to increase the number of amateur operators that met a set of criteria dealing with knowledge level of electronics, i.e. if you hand out more privileges to hams that know more electronics, then more hams will attempt to know more electronics in order to gain the additional privileges.  After all-- the intent of Amateur Radio in the US is to foster a knowledge of electronics in general.
Logged

Thanks,
Dave
For reviews and setups see: http://www.nk7z.net
K4EZD
Member

Posts: 90




Ignore
« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2014, 03:07:29 PM »

Thanks for the responses.  The incentive licensing program certainly made me study and learn more about topics that I wouldn't have looked into otherwise. 

Vince
K4EZD
Logged
AA4PB
Member

Posts: 12682




Ignore
« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2014, 04:04:41 PM »

The "original" Extra gave no additional privileges. Very few ever got that Extra because there was no incentive other than to be able to say that you had it. Incentive licensing was intended to provide an "incentive" for hams to upgrade in order to get additional privileges. Without adding additional frequencies to the ham bands, the only way to give additional privileges to one class was to take it away from the lower classes. That's what made many people upset.

The goal of incentive licensing was to encourage hams to study and gain more general knowledge of radio and electronics. It wasn't a matter of needing that knowledge in order to operate his radio on the additional frequencies. A lot of people upgraded to Advanced and Extra as a result of incentive licensing so I guess you could say that it was successful, at least from that viewpoint.

Logged
N2EY
Member

Posts: 3849




Ignore
« Reply #5 on: Today at 07:30:52 AM »

The "original" Extra gave no additional privileges. Very few ever got that Extra because there was no incentive other than to be able to say that you had it.

Sorry, that's not true. Here's why:

From the 1930s until 1951, the US licensing scheme consisted of three license classes: A, B and C.  All licenses required 13 wpm code (after 1936; it had previously been 10 wpm) and a written test of about 50 questions on regulations, theory, and operating practices.

Class A was the top level license. It could only be earned at FCC exam points. It required an additional written test and at least 1 year experience as a Class B or C licensee. If the Class A applicant was a Class C, s/he had to pass the code and written tests for the Class B license before attempting the Class A.

Classes B and C were the same except that Class B was tested at FCC exam points and Class C was "by mail" using a volunteer examiner. The VE system did not exist; a volunteer examiner was pretty much anyone with an amateur or commercial FCC license (but there were some restrictions). Class C was only open to shut-ins and people living more than a certain distance from an FCC exam point.

All licensees could use full power on all amateur frequencies. However, only Class A could use voice modes on the bands between 2.5 and 25 MHz.

In the late 1940s there were two small groups who felt that Class A wasn't rigorous enough. Despite opposition from ARRL, they convinced FCC to add a new license class above Class A, and phase out the Class A license completely. This became part of the 1951 restructuring.

In 1951 the FCC restructured the license classes by adding three new classes and renaming the existing ones:

- Novice was a 1 year 1 time beginner's license.
- Technician was a specialty license for experimenters - in its original form, it only allowed operation above 220 MHz
- Conditional was old Class C, renamed.
- General was old Class B, renamed.
- Advanced was old Class A, renamed. No new Class A/Advanced licenses would be issued after the end of 1952.
- Extra was the replacement top license. It required a General license, two years' experience, 20 wpm code, and a written test that was higher level than even the old Class A. A Class A/Advanced licensee did not get any special credit towards the Extra.

An Advanced or Extra was required for voice operation on the ham bands between 2.5 and 25 MHz. This caused a lot of hams to get their Advanced before the end-of-1952 deadline, because after that date the only way to full privileges would be the much harder Extra. Some folks got the Extra...because they could.

Then, in December 1952, FCC did an astonishing thing: They granted full privileges to all Generals and Conditionals, effective Feb 1953. There was no longer any operational difference between 4 of the 6 license classes! The Advanced was still closed to new issues at the end of 1952.

The 1950s were a period of rapid growth in US amateur radio. From about 100,000 US hams in the early 1950s we grew to over 250,000 in the early 1960s. By 1963 or so a large majority of US hams had never known any other system, and thought it had always been that Generals and Conditionals had full privileges.

In October 1957 the USSR launched the first man-made space satellite, Sputnik 1. It was a complete surprise in the West - no one knew they had anything close to that level of technology. The Soviets continued to stun the world with a long list of space firsts, well into the 1960s.

This caused a lot of folks to find fault with many things in US culture. The "New Math" was one result, JFK's push for physical fitness another, the race to the moon still another. Amateur radio did not escape notice - US hams, who were increasingly using store-bought equipment to operate voice modes, were seen as inferior to the Soviet counterparts, whose license tests were much more rigorous and who homebrewed practically everything.

That concern led to changes which became known as "incentive licensing". The Advanced was reopened to new issues in 1967, and Generals, Conditionals and Advanceds no longer had full privileges after November 22 1968.

Some hams were really against the changes, thinking that because they'd earned a Conditional or General license once-upon-a-time, they were ENTITLED to full privileges FOREVER. Much wailing an gnashing of teeth over how difficult the higher-level tests were, yada yada yada.

Some of us were too young and stupid so we just studied and passed the tests. In my case, I earned Advanced in 1968 at age 14 in the summer before I entered high school. Two years later, when the experience requirement was met, I earned Extra (1970, age 16). So how hard could the old exams have really been?

73 de Jim, N2EY
Logged
AA4PB
Member

Posts: 12682




Ignore
« Reply #6 on: Today at 09:07:19 AM »

Thanks Jim. I first entered the ham radio ranks in the late 1950's so I was looking at Extra the way it was when I first knew it. I didn't realize that there was an even earlier Extra class license.

I got my second radiotelephone commercial license at 16 and my first with ships radar endorsement at 18. The second got me a job as a radio maintenance tech with an air transport company and they encouraged me to get the first and ships radar with a pay raise  Wink So, the tests aren't all that difficult to master. I was lucky though that I had a friend who owned a TV repair business and had many years of experience so I got plenty of "hands on" experience in my early years.

Logged
N3QE
Member

Posts: 2087




Ignore
« Reply #7 on: Today at 09:40:47 AM »

Some of us were too young and stupid so we just studied and passed the tests. In my case, I earned Advanced in 1968 at age 14 in the summer before I entered high school. Two years later, when the experience requirement was met, I earned Extra (1970, age 16). So how hard could the old exams have really been?
I got my Advanced at age 13. (I had gone to FCC field office to get General, but when I passed that with ease the examiner offered to let me try my hand at Advanced as well). I thought the Advanced test was pretty tough at the time, I just barely passed, I remember a lot of tough questions having to do with tube amp biasing for different classes of service, some detailed discussions of screen voltage regulation that at the time went right over my head, a lot of yagi antenna questions, a lot of matching network questions, some questions about phasing vs filter SSB generation, and some real stumpers (for me at least, I had never done any phone!) on details of regulations and practice of modulation monitoring and adjustment for both AM and SSB. There were a couple questions about biasing of these newfangled transistors but most of the exam revolved around tube transmitters and receivers.

At the same time if you took an Advanced or Extra from back in that day, and showed them a modern Advanced or Extra exam, they would be bewildered by the questions (many of them regulation subtopics) on space operation, TV modulation, and digital techniques. But wouldn't have much problem with the RF and transistor questions. They would probably be surprised that none of the schematics they have to read as part of the test, had anything to do with tubes!
« Last Edit: Today at 09:48:47 AM by N3QE » Logged
K9AIM
Member

Posts: 941




Ignore
« Reply #8 on: Today at 10:31:44 AM »


From the 1930s until 1951, the US licensing scheme consisted of three license classes: A, B and C.  All licenses required 13 wpm code (after 1936; it had previously been 10 wpm) and a written test of about 50 questions on regulations, theory, and operating practices.

Class A was the top level license. It could only be earned at FCC exam points. It required an additional written test and at least 1 year experience as a Class B or C licensee. If the Class A applicant was a Class C, s/he had to pass the code and written tests for the Class B license before attempting the Class A.

Classes B and C were the same except that Class B was tested at FCC exam points and Class C was "by mail" using a volunteer examiner. The VE system did not exist; a volunteer examiner was pretty much anyone with an amateur or commercial FCC license (but there were some restrictions). Class C was only open to shut-ins and people living more than a certain distance from an FCC exam point.

All licensees could use full power on all amateur frequencies. However, only Class A could use voice modes on the bands between 2.5 and 25 MHz.

[....]

"incentive licensing". The Advanced was reopened to new issues in 1967, and Generals, Conditionals and Advanceds no longer had full privileges after November 22 1968.


a few points:

I think from their point of view, the thing some old class A's had against the way incentive licensing was implemented was that they were having phone privileges being taken away despite the fact that they had formerly been in the only full-privilege license class and had decades of experience as licensed radio amateurs.  Add in that the new tests were multiple choice and did not require examinees to draw schematics, etc.   and i think it gets to why some had a certain disdain for the FCC  change that did not grandfather former Class A's (that due to FCC decisions were now Advanceds) into Extras. 

some people just want to complain or see the new generation as less competent, but i don't think that fully captures all of the dissonance some felt about Extras being granted phone privileges that the Advanced Class would no longer have access to.  To them it sort of dishonored the history of the hobby and those who had been the pioneers.

I always felt it odd that my uncle seemed to have some kind of disdain for the Extra Class and never really understood why till learning the history.  He was not a spiteful or jealous person and he was an Electrical Engineer, so when I became an adult and reflected back on it after his death, it made me very curious what caused his suppressed disdain.  Adding to the intrigue was that he did not discourage me from going for the Extra, and I never heard him say anything bad about the Extra class. 

Now that I better understand the history, I think it had to do with old Class A's getting phone privileges taken away and Extras being given them.  (To me, a better decision would have been for the old Class A's to have been grandfathered in as Extras).  I think some former Class A's like him did not upgrade to Extra as a form of protest against the change. Seems like a very human reaction to me, and a sort of tip of the cap to old timers. 

ymmv 73

« Last Edit: Today at 10:44:44 AM by K9AIM » Logged
N2EY
Member

Posts: 3849




Ignore
« Reply #9 on: Today at 12:12:54 PM »

a few points:

I think from their point of view, the thing some old class A's had against the way incentive licensing was implemented was that they were having phone privileges being taken away despite the fact that they had formerly been in the only full-privilege license class and had decades of experience as licensed radio amateurs.  Add in that the new tests were multiple choice and did not require examinees to draw schematics, etc.   and i think it gets to why some had a certain disdain for the FCC  change that did not grandfather former Class A's (that due to FCC decisions were now Advanceds) into Extras. 

some people just want to complain or see the new generation as less competent, but i don't think that fully captures all of the dissonance some felt about Extras being granted phone privileges that the Advanced Class would no longer have access to.  To them it sort of dishonored the history of the hobby and those who had been the pioneers.

I always felt it odd that my uncle seemed to have some kind of disdain for the Extra Class and never really understood why till learning the history.  He was not a spiteful or jealous person and he was an Electrical Engineer, so when I became an adult and reflected back on it after his death, it made me very curious what caused his suppressed disdain.  Adding to the intrigue was that he did not discourage me from going for the Extra, and I never heard him say anything bad about the Extra class. 

Now that I better understand the history, I think it had to do with old Class A's getting phone privileges taken away and Extras being given them.  (To me, a better decision would have been for the old Class A's to have been grandfathered in as Extras).  I think some former Class A's like him did not upgrade to Extra as a form of protest against the change. Seems like a very human reaction to me, and a sort of tip of the cap to old timers. 

ymmv 73



There are all sorts of variations on the theme, but they all come down to the idea of people feeling that because they'd passed this or that test they should never, ever, lose privileges nor take another test ever again. Never mind how much technology and the rules have changed.

Heck, the period of "Generals/Conditionals/Advanceds/Extras have full privileges" lasted less than 16 years - February 1953 to November 1968. It ended 46 years ago....yet some folks STILL feel they were "cheated".

Sheesh!

In at least some cases, the real issue was that the folks protesting knew they couldn't pass the tests again without a lot of study.

73 de Jim, N2EY

Logged
N2EY
Member

Posts: 3849




Ignore
« Reply #10 on: Today at 12:18:53 PM »

Thanks Jim. I first entered the ham radio ranks in the late 1950's so I was looking at Extra the way it was when I first knew it. I didn't realize that there was an even earlier Extra class license.


I think you misunderstand. Sorry if I wasn't clear.

There was an "Amateur Extra First Class" briefly in the early 1920s. It was never popular and disappeared after a short time. It carried no special credit towards later licenses.

In 1951, more than 25 years later, the FCC created the Extra we know today. That version of the Extra has existed continuously for 63 years, and has always been available to new issues. The requirements have changed over the years but since 1951 it's been the top license with greater requirements than those of any other license class.

73 de Jim, N2EY
Logged
N2EY
Member

Posts: 3849




Ignore
« Reply #11 on: Today at 12:20:37 PM »

I got my Advanced at age 13. (I had gone to FCC field office to get General, but when I passed that with ease the examiner offered to let me try my hand at Advanced as well).

Same thing happened to me! Philadelphia FCC office, summer of 1968.


73 de Jim, N2EY
Logged
N3QE
Member

Posts: 2087




Ignore
« Reply #12 on: Today at 01:19:39 PM »

I always felt it odd that my uncle seemed to have some kind of disdain for the Extra Class and never really understood why till learning the history.  He was not a spiteful or jealous person and he was an Electrical Engineer, so when I became an adult and reflected back on it after his death, it made me very curious what caused his suppressed disdain.  Adding to the intrigue was that he did not discourage me from going for the Extra, and I never heard him say anything bad about the Extra class. 

Now that I better understand the history, I think it had to do with old Class A's getting phone privileges taken away and Extras being given them.  (To me, a better decision would have been for the old Class A's to have been grandfathered in as Extras).  I think some former Class A's like him did not upgrade to Extra as a form of protest against the change. Seems like a very human reaction to me, and a sort of tip of the cap to old timers. 

There was a whole generation of old-timers who had General class licenses, never upgraded (infuriated at ARRL for supporting incentive licensing), yet had started early enough that they had 1x2 calls. Wondering out loud if there are any left today.
Logged
K9AIM
Member

Posts: 941




Ignore
« Reply #13 on: Today at 01:25:40 PM »


There are all sorts of variations on the theme, but they all come down to the idea of people feeling that because they'd passed this or that test they should never, ever, lose privileges nor take another test ever again. Never mind how much technology and the rules have changed.

Heck, the period of "Generals/Conditionals/Advanceds/Extras have full privileges" lasted less than 16 years - February 1953 to November 1968. It ended 46 years ago....yet some folks STILL feel they were "cheated".

Sheesh!

In at least some cases, the real issue was that the folks protesting knew they couldn't pass the tests again without a lot of study.

73 de Jim, N2EY


I know you were a teen when incentive licensing happened, but have you considered what this looked like thru the eyes of a former  Class A -- one that may have been 70+ years old at the time and lived a long distance away from an FCC office?  The phone segments that got taken away from the former Class A-Advanceds were very tiny.  It did not warrant a -- look I can get an Extra Class license by taking a multiple choice test -- type enthusiasm.  I think it was just the idea that they who had formerly been the top class licensees and were the only ones allowed to operate HF phone, were now having HF phone frequencies taken away fromt hem and given to young multiple-choice exam passing whipper-snappers like you Smiley

and while you are probably right some just bemoaned it for the sour grapes, there were probably also those who did not voice opposition but still felt slighted and saw it as a slight of the amateur radio pioneer elders.

again, my uncle who was born in 1906 and was once 9CCA never voiced a single bad thing about the Extra Class to me while he was elmering me in 1976 (I was 14).  However, his distaste was still tangible in the slight dissonant change to his countenance when the topic of Extra privileges and callsigns came up.  He was a retired EE and only used CW occasionally in those last years and would probably have had to work a little to get his code up to 20wpm.  He accompanied me to the FCC office when I passed my General and Advanced in 1977 so for him it wasn't the a travel issue that stopped him from taking the exam.  It seems to me it wasn't that he was only not interested, but that he was disincentivized.
Logged
AA4PB
Member

Posts: 12682




Ignore
« Reply #14 on: Today at 03:01:41 PM »

Jim, if I read your post correctly, after 1952 the only new license that you could obtain that gave you voice privileges on the HF bands was the Extra.

After Feb 1953 Generals, Conditionals, and Extras had full privileges. This is how I remember it when I was first licensed. This lasted until Nov 1968. I guess that is why most of the hams that I knew didn't bother with the Extra because they already had full privileges with their General. That and the fact that the 20WPM sending and receiving test had to be taken in from of an FCC examiner - lots more pressure than taking it at you local club.

In Nov 1968 Generals, Conditionals, and Advanced lost their full privileges. Extras retained their full privileges. Advanced retained some privileges beyond Generals and Conditionals. This is the "incentive licensing" that we know today.
Logged
Pages: [1]   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!