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Author Topic: Ham?  (Read 641 times)
K5RJP
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Posts: 41




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« on: February 28, 2003, 10:26:35 AM »

I was completely stumped by a question from a non-ham the other day.  Where did the word "ham" in ham radio come from?
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K0BG
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« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2003, 02:19:10 PM »

You're going to get more answers than you think! And most will be wrong.

The term "Ham" didn't orginate in the amateur radio ranks at all, but in the stageplay arena during Shakespear's time. Ham referred to a beginner especially one emoting. In other words, Hamming it up.

When and where it became part of the vernacular of amateur radio is debatable.

Alan, KØBG
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KC0ODY
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Posts: 78




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« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2003, 04:39:41 PM »

I know for sure what "Ham" means. It is actually an acronym: "Have a Lot of Money?"

:-)

Jackie
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WA9SVD
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Posts: 2201




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« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2003, 06:42:41 PM »

I beg to differ!  It originally meant "HAD A lot of Money..."
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WA4PTZ
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Posts: 528




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« Reply #4 on: March 01, 2003, 05:21:21 AM »

Yes, there are several known acronyms that fit but
I believe the one you seek is "Helping All Mankind".
73 - Tim
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KB0NLY
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« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2003, 01:02:26 AM »

How about: Hard up And needing Money?

HI HI

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KD5KFL
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Posts: 55




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« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2003, 04:59:46 PM »

The version I choose to tell: In the early days, commercial radio ops had a rather condescending view of amateurs. Specifically, they thought all amateurs were ham-fisted when operating the CW key. So amateurs were called "hams" by the pros.

We're still around. Professional brass pounders are "Hiss-toe-ree". So I guess we get the last laugh.
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K5RJP
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Posts: 41




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« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2003, 06:45:46 PM »

That is the most likely explanation I have heard yet. I wonder if anything like that is recorded in "ham" history.  For that matter, is there a history of amateur radio?
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AB8PR
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Posts: 26




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« Reply #8 on: March 11, 2003, 10:39:57 AM »

I read this version from a book titled How to Be a Ham. Had a copyright date of 1985 on it. Anyways, according to the book in the early days there were travelling entertainers who went from town to town and put on plays and other stage acts to make enough to live on. Since they didn't have a lot of money, they had to make costumes and make-up from scratch. Make-up was usually made from a base of ham fat, and it earned them the nickname of 'hamfat actors', or 'ham actors' for short. As we all know, when the early days of radio came about amateurs had to build all their equipment from scratch, and this activity earned them the 'ham' moniker.

True or untrue, dunno, but that's a version I've read. Smiley
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K5RJP
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Posts: 41




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« Reply #9 on: March 11, 2003, 11:02:09 AM »

Another plausible explanation.  Let's hear some more.  Back to the reply that refered to professional telegraphers as his-tor-ree:  True but some are still around.  I have a non-ham friend that was a radio operator in the Air Force in the early 60s.  He can still solid copy 50 wpm while talking on the phone. It's like he has two seperate brains. He can send at unbelievable speeds with his Vibroplex bug that he took home from the service.  Sounds twice as fast as 50 wpm, so my guess is around 100 wpm.  As he says with a grin, "What is the point.  No one can copy me anyway."  He tried my electronic keyer and declared that it was far too slow for real world use. Yes, I've tried to get him interested in ham but to no avail.
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AB8PR
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Posts: 26




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« Reply #10 on: March 11, 2003, 12:02:59 PM »

Reminds me of the stories my dad would tell me from his days in the Air Force. He was in from '61 to '65. Every day in the mess hall at least one of the codebreakers would grab his knife and start tapping away at his glass. Inevitably another codebreaker from across the room would grab his knife and respond. After a while, the whole group of them would be tapping away, with everyone else clueless as to what they were saying as they usually sent at 50 WPM or higher. Smiley

Off topic, I know, but thought I'd toss it out to complement the last posting. Smiley
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WA9SVD
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« Reply #11 on: March 12, 2003, 12:44:49 AM »

Well, just to explore, if Amateur Operators were considered "Ham Fisted" by the Commercial Operators, where did THAT term originate?  And just what did it mean?
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