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Author Topic: "Broadcasting's Forgotten Father" and the "Little Hams Program" of 1912  (Read 3595 times)
K0OD
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« on: October 27, 2012, 10:04:16 PM »

Stumbled upon some YT videos about a regularly scheduled broadcast station created in 1909 by a San Jose wireless experimenter named Charles Herrold. Herrold owned a technical school in San Jose called the Herrold College of Wireless and Engineering. His students served as its DJs and newsreaders, broadcasting music and news via a phonograph and microphone. Its unique modulation system was invented by Harrold. The station predated KDKA by a decade. 

In 1912 Herrold's wife, the first female "DJ", called her weekly show "The Little Hams  Program."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5nIVv_2cGaQ

Also:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Herrold

Is anyone here aware of this? I find it rather stunning.
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KJ6ZOL
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« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2012, 08:04:17 AM »

I am aware of Herrold. I grew up in Northern California and I first heard of Herrold in a book on antique radios. During the dot.com boom I visited the San Jose Historical Society and saw an exhibit on Herrold, featuring the only known recording of his voice (he died in 1948). The building that housed his studios is long gone, but a sign marks the spot.

Herrold was the first person to broadcast voice on a regular schedule. The first voice broadcast in history took place from Massachusetts on Christmas 1906, initiated by a man whose name I can't remember, and was intended for any ships within range, since radio had originally been conceived as a means of communicating from ships to shore, utilizing Morse code that was already in use for landline telegraphs.

Following Herrold, a number of amateur radio operators popped up, and a treaty to regulate radio emissions was put in place in 1912. World War 1 put a damper on things, and the war prompted many nations to seize whole chunks of spectrum for themselves, which is why there's no commercial longwave band in the US-the navy thought longwave was the most valuable spectrum of all, so they simply took it all, and forced amateurs, and later professionals, to operate above 550 khz.

After the success of KDKA, mediumwave was reserved solely for commercial broadcasts, and amateurs were forced to use shortwave, which was considered worthless in the early 20s due to limited groundwave propagation. It wasn't until later that the phenomena of skip and scatter were explained, but the effects were duly noted, and by the 1930s the current SW band assignments had been worked out.
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K0OD
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« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2012, 09:36:54 AM »

Herrold had long been forgotten outside Northern California where he is revered as the founder of broadcasting. A quick scan of the QST database didn't turn up his name. Surely he qualifies as a ham, although I didn't find where he got an amateur license/call when they became mandatory in 1912.

The father of no-coding was Reginald Fessenden who broadcast music to ships in 1906. Herrold recognized that a better method was needed and he employed multiple high frequency arcs of his own design (under liquid) to generate a carrier that was modulated. Incredibly, Herrold's broadcast station survives today.

The use of "ham" at the early date of 1912 is fascinating. And why "Little Hams?" The derivation of that term is debatable. This suggests that ham meant any radio op; a "Little Ham" was an amateur. In  any event, the term was clearly entrenched even in the tech backwater of San Jose. The station's audience of several hundred included the general public as well as amateurs. "Ham" is sometimes credited to a group at Harvard; but Herrold had attended Stanford!  
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KJ6ZOL
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« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2012, 06:26:47 PM »

Herrold had long been forgotten outside Northern California where he is revered as the founder of broadcasting. A quick scan of the QST database didn't turn up his name. Surely he qualifies as a ham, although I didn't find where he got an amateur license/call when they became mandatory in 1912.

The father of no-coding was Reginald Fessenden who broadcast music to ships in 1906. Herrold recognized that a better method was needed and he employed multiple high frequency arcs of his own design (under liquid) to generate a carrier that was modulated. Incredibly, Herrold's broadcast station survives today.

The use of "ham" at the early date of 1912 is fascinating. And why "Little Hams?" The derivation of that term is debatable. This suggests that ham meant any radio op; a "Little Ham" was an amateur. In  any event, the term was clearly entrenched even in the tech backwater of San Jose. The station's audience of several hundred included the general public as well as amateurs. "Ham" is sometimes credited to a group at Harvard; but Herrold had attended Stanford!  

Stanford University has been a high tech hub ever since it was founded. San Jose wasn't as much of a backwater as one might think. I believe that Tesla had a lab in Palo Alto at one point. Why Stanford would be such a hub of tech is anybody's guess, but it may have to do with the fact that it was founded in 1886, just as the first experiments with what would become electronics were happening, and it didn't have the baggage of the older East Coast institutions, which had been founded to teach clergymen and which back then still viewed study of the Bible and "classic" literature as the hallmark of an educated man (few women bothered, and most universities didn't admit women).

It's likely that the term "ham" came to mean "radio operator" at Stanford, where the original meaning might have been analogous to today's "geek", meaning an "electronics nut". At least one professor at Stanford noted the presence of "electronics nerds" in his classes in the 30s, young men who were totally absorbed by high tech to the extent that they forgot to bathe or even eat. Some of those young men may have been autistic.

How the word "ham" came to mean a geek, then a radio operator, will likely never be known. Did it come from "ham fisted"? Did it come from "hamming it up", which may in this context have referred to efforts to break the monotony of studying in awkward ways? Herrold's audience in 1912 likely consisted mainly of those same "nerds", with their weird coil radio sets. Palo Alto was connected to San Jose and San Francisco by rail, a line that survives today as the commuter Caltrain system. It's likely that even back then there was a spreading of tech related ideas into what had been a farming community.

There were radio factories in Sunnyvale from the 1920s on, and Ampex (initially a reel-to-reel tape company) was founded there in the 30s. Palo Alto had been platted as a home for professors at the university, many students chose to commute, especially as the institution grew. Places like San Jose's Naglee Park and Willow Glen were originally commuter suburbs.
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KD0REQ
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« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2012, 04:32:28 PM »

that was Reginald Fesseden in 1906  http://www.pavekmuseum.org/fessenden.htm
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K0OD
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« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2012, 05:02:20 AM »

In the 1880s, Fessenden's initial attempts to work for Edison were rebuffed; in his first application Fessenden wrote, "Do not know anything about electricity, but can learn pretty quick," to which Edison replied, "Have enough men now who do not know about electricity."

Before Fessenden could invent voice  transmission, he had to develop a better detector as the coherer could only be used in an on/off fashion.

Of importance to our hobby, Fessenden, a Canadian, is credited with radio's first transatlantic QSO in 1906. Marconi had only made it one-way.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reginald_Fessenden

Wikipedia lists the Charles Herrold group in San Jose third, behind Fessenden, among claimants for "Oldest Radio Station." Herrold is credited with being the first to "broadcast" on a regular basis to a group that included some members of the general public.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_oldest_radio_stations

Interesting that the term "broadcasting" had only been used in agriculture prior to that time for seed and fertilizer dispersal.  Herrod's father had patented a seed spreader years before. Herrold who had a midwest agricultural background is credited with first applying that term  to radio.
 

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N1NQC
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« Reply #6 on: November 28, 2012, 12:41:49 PM »

  Hey  All,

This  "discussion" has  gone  on for around  100 years .I  feel it really depends  on what your definition of "broadcasting" is.

Fessenden was not a regular voice/music "sender". Christmas Eve 1906 /New Years Eve 1907 was all I know  of .

Herrold  may have done it on a "schedule", but  under what  type  of license or authority  and for how  long ? (anybody ?)It has been proposed that Herold's efforts eventually "became" a full time licensed  b'cast station  in CA (can't  recall which one w/o research. It also seems a stretch that these   truly  and  fully continued into the 1920's and    became a  licensed  b'caster. But  I  defer to the Herrold folks for  more info

 Enrico Caruso had one of HIS  performances  transmitted ( forget when or by who- but it was VERY early on).

Opera  singer Nellie Melba had one of HER performances sent out by the Marconi Co. , again very early on.

And let us not forget all the amateurs,including Frank Conrad (later  of KDKA fame) who loved to play  music.

The point  here is that   99% (if  not 100%) of the "broadcasting" that went on pre KDKA/WBZ was sporadic, relatively short lived and certainly NOT licensed as broadcasts.

If you REALLY examine "true " broadcasting KDKA was first (sort of). KDKA initially got a MARITIME SHORE station license(only  by default as there was NO broadcast class at the time.But the govt knew of their intentions. They  eventually got a broadcast license, but AFTER WBZ).

From a PRACTICAL standpoint,KDKA  went on the air, started  broadcasting  and as done so for 90 plus  years.Realistically by most criteria and in the opinion of nearly ALL broadcast historians , KDKA was first.Period.

 WBZ received the world's  FIRST license specifically issued  for BROADCASTING. So by the  "letter of the law" 'BZ is TECHNICALLY the world's  first BROADCASTING station. But this is highly literal and Westinghouse NEVER promoted this fact, lest they lose 11 months  of  "advantage" to KDKA.

de  K

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ONAIR
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« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2012, 12:51:26 PM »

Herrold certainly had a really interesting design for his transmitter!
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KD0REQ
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« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2012, 04:05:57 PM »

tests of broadcasting are broadcasting in my book.  most of them were also announced to the press, so we have public records.  if it's one-way transmissions and they are generally directed to whomever wants to listen, it's broadcasting.

in the rush to get on 200 meters, most of the pioneer radio stations operated in their assigned hour per day or week per the Commerce Department.  WDAY, for instance, was noon to 1 pm their first year because that's what the Feds permitted.  it's still broadcasting.
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