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Author Topic: Ham trivia  (Read 1043 times)
K4SAV
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Posts: 1850




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« on: June 05, 2009, 10:27:33 AM »

When was the word "ham" first used to describe amateur radio operators?

From what I have found we may never know for sure what the origin of the word is because the word has been in existence for a long time before radio but used for something different.  However we should be able to find out approximately when it was first used for radio.

Here are some references on the subject but do not really answer the question:
http://www.arrl.org/whyham.html
http://ac6v.com/73.htm#hamlid
That last reference gives a lot of possibilities for the origin but nothing concrete.  It did make one reference to it being used before 1923.

Here is another:
http://www.retrocom.com/wtcollect/hammarlund.htm
It says the word came from Oscar Hammarlund the founder of Hammarlund Radio.  That company was founded in 1910, so if the word was used before then, this could not have been the origin.

This reference
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etymology_of_ham_radio
gives reference to dates of 1915, 1916, and possibly one reference of 1909.

Any trivia experts out there?

Jerry, K4SAV
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W9JAB
Member

Posts: 70




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« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2009, 11:09:49 AM »

The one and true origin of "HAM" come from telegraph days, from a brass pounders hand getting swollen to the size of a ham from working all day!
and that’s the truth.
W9JAB
JOE
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N4CR
Member

Posts: 1694




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« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2009, 08:08:45 PM »

Hams are always behind and never current, so the symbol for current, mah, was reversed to describe us.

See how easy it is to create an urban legend?
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73 de N4CR, Phil

Never believe an atom. They make up everything.
WB2WIK
Member

Posts: 20636




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« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2009, 03:45:33 PM »

I can create one even easier.

Give me 20 minutes, and check Wikipedia!

;-)

WB2WIK/6
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K0OD
Member

Posts: 2578




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« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2009, 05:03:43 PM »

"Here is another:
http://www.retrocom.com/wtcollect/hammarlund.htm
It says the word came from Oscar Hammarlund the founder of Hammarlund Radio."  

I have never heard that pipe dream.

--
A detailed exposition on the history of Hammarlund and Oscar Hammarlund makes no mention of "ham" being derived from Hammarlund.  Otherwise much of the info on the two sites is identical. http://www.hammarlund.info/histpage.html



I think Wikipedia has it correct:

"There are a number of false etymologies regarding why amateur radio operators are called hams.[3] Likely an example of corporate wishful thinking, one such tale is that Hammarlund products were supposedly so pre-eminent in the pioneering era of radio that they became a part of the language of radio. As the story goes, early radio enthusiasts affectionately referred to Hammarlund products as "Ham" products, and called themselves "Ham" operators.[4]

In truth, Hammarlund was a minor and barely known company at the time "ham" started to be used."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hammarlund
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W9OY
Member

Posts: 1344


WWW

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« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2009, 08:35:27 AM »

I always thought it came from the musical group HAM THE SHAM AND THE FAROE'S  (as in islands)  

Uno, dos, one, two, tres, quatro....

73  W9OY
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W5FYI
Member

Posts: 1046




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« Reply #6 on: June 08, 2009, 09:52:15 AM »

I'm pretty sure the term was coined during one of the early Field Day events. When the local media showed up, during lunch time, and noticed all the club members were eating ham sandwiches and guzzling 807s, the story was written about the "ham sandwich eating radio operators." Back in the press room, the slug of Linotype containing the "sandwich eating" part fell out of the box, so all that was eventually printed was "ham        radio operators." The radio club members made light of this by calling each other "hams," and the term has been with us ever since. John Fleming, who was on the clean-up committee, apparently collected the empty 807s, and being an avid recycler he added filaments, grids and plates, and turned them into vacuum tubes. That is why, to this day, many hams refer to a cold beer as an "807," to honor ham radio's obscure past and somewhat uncertain present.

Ask me later about how "earth" became "ground" or how "aerial" became "antenna" and I'll see if I can make up a good historical fact or two about them, too.
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N4CR
Member

Posts: 1694




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« Reply #7 on: June 08, 2009, 05:24:49 PM »

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etymology_of_ham_radio

Here's what wikipedia says. Which part did you do, Steve?
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73 de N4CR, Phil

Never believe an atom. They make up everything.
K7PEH
Member

Posts: 1124




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« Reply #8 on: June 08, 2009, 05:54:17 PM »

I don't know the true origin of the name "ham" applied to amateur radio operators but I have discovered that it invites a lot of interesting discussions.

For example, my wife commented on her facebook page that we were headed for the Oregon coast and that she was going to be doing bird photography and I was attending a ham fest (SeaPac).  So, lots of her "friends" asked if I was going to be cooking ham, or eating cooked pork, or whatever.  So, she explained what a ham fest was and directed other questions to me.

Out of all of this are two individuals interested enough in the hobby to look further into it with the idea of maybe getting licensed.

Who ever invented the name obviously knew that a 100 years later (or whatever), it would prove to be useful to pull new wannabes into this hobby.
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WB2WIK
Member

Posts: 20636




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« Reply #9 on: June 08, 2009, 06:41:47 PM »

AI4OF:  I just looked at that, and I didn't do any part of it.

I was just poking fun, that anybody can write whatever they want for Wikipedia, and it's on line pretty much instantly.

I did write a piece a few months ago that was absolute nonsense, just to see how long it would take someone to contest it as ridiculous and be removed.

It's still there, although I did receive notification that if I cannot substantiate some of the claims within 10 days, it would be removed.  ;-)

So, "somebody" is watching.  But there's a lot of absolute rubbish on Wikipedia thus far.  I think the goal is that if enough people contribute and also review the contents, eventually it will be very accurate; and I believe that, it's very possible.  But it will take many years for that to occur, and it hasn't occurred yet.

WB2WIK/6
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