Ham radio history



1898 – First wireless amateur experimenters appear after Marconi’s practical wireless public demonstrations, most of them seek to build and test their capabilities.

1902 – Number of wireless enthusiasts increases after first transatlantic test, some seek improve wireless equipment and use it for communication from point A to point B.

1905 – First home wireless stations appear, mostly in port area, making random communication with ships and other stations. First companies to sell wireless equipment. First licenses for experimental purposes are issued for wireless amateurs among others in GB, later ’07 – DK and ’08 in NZ.

1906 – Young men begin to build and operate own wireless stations.  Berlin IRC adopts universal regulations, the term ‘Radio’ and the system of three-letter call signs.

1908-11- Ham radio (amateur stations) becomes a hobby. First  wireless/radio clubs and associations are formed. 1909 – WAOA. 1910 – WIA. 1911 – Derby Wireless Club in GB; CCWC in CA.  Wavelength of 35-1000m is used and a call of 2/3 signs is self-made or issued by club/magazine in combination with letter ‘E/S/M…’, like SKH or HAM.

1910-13-Governmental regulation grows, first and renewed  ‘amateur’ licenses are issued in the USA (Radio Act of 1912 <200m), UK (<600m), Canada (~50/<200m), Australia (100-250m), France, Argentina (~150m),  New Zealand (except 1912-13) and DK. Officially in some countries calls are assigned with ‘X’ for ‘experimental’, like WUX, DXP or XAI.

1912 – London IRC adopts int. call prefix system, CQ and Q codes. Bern, a call letters are updated.

1913 – RSGB is founded. The first amateur/experimenter prefixes are used to denote state/radio district in AU XA.A-XZ.ZZ and US 1AA-9ZZ. Hams provided emergency communication.

1914 – ARRL is organized to help relay messages, typical ranges are 40 km (25 miles). Clubs in France SFE-TSF, Belgium CBER and New Zealand. 6000 licenses worldwide.

1915 – QST. 1916 – First DX; station 2IB, Lima, works with 8AEZ, Ohio, – 1050 km (750 miles) across the USA. The beginning of QSL.

1914/17-18 – Amateur/experimenter stations in many countries are shut down during WWI.

1919-26 – Ham radio appears in another 55 countries. The term Ham becomes widespread.

1920 – Vacuum tubes are used, 3200 km (2000 miles) distance reached. Starting with ’20-’23 first Ham pfx’es used to denote a country in EU are 2/5/6-GB, 8-FR, 2N-FI, 1-IT, initially semi-officials: 0/PC-NL, 3-ES, 4/A2÷Z2-BE, 7-DK  and 9-CH.

1921 – January, Chelmsford 2BO (2MT) 200m tests  heard by L. Deloy (8AB). The Transatlantic tests; December – in Europe signals are received from over 30 US stations.

1922 – First QSO’s among the six European countries. Transpacific hamradio reception; North American Hams heard signals from Europe. Superiority of CW against ’Spark’.

1923 – First  transatlantic QSO between 1MO, 1XAM USA and 8AB France on 110m.


1923 -ARRL informal system of intermediate signs is introduced: A-AU, F-FR, G-GB, U-US First DXpedition to the Arctic by 1TS.

1924 – Worldwide Ham communication below 100m and QSO among most continents. RSGB system of prefixes is published: EA-ES, F-FR, G-GB, LA-NO

1925 – IARU is founded with 25.000 radio enthusiasts, bands and prefixes discussed. REF and DFTV/DASD are organised.

1926 – WAC club is established. International callbook is published.

1927 – IARU announces new intermediates, first letter indicating the continent N, S, E, AS, O, F. ARRL sponsors the first organized contest ‘The International Relay party’.

1928 – IARU is reorganized as an association of national societies.

1929 – Internationally amateur/experimental bands are established: 160, 80, 40, 20, 10, and 5m. Int. system of call signs and and phonetic alphabet are introduced by IRC in 1927.

I look for  RY6A QSL (1929-32).


‘The First Amateur?’ W.W. 1932.
‘World at their Fingertips’ by John Clarricoats
‘The World of Ham Radio, 1901-1950’ by Richard A. Bartlett
‘200 meters & down’ by Clinton B. Desoto
‘Ham Shacks, Brass Pounders & Rag Chewers’ by Ian Daugherthy
‘From Spark to Space’ by Saskatoon Ham radio Club
‘History of Australian amateur radio callsigns’ by VK2CZ. OTN Nr.45
‘Histoire de l’émission d’amateur et du REF’. F2VX
‘L’onde Electrique’ Nr 1-17. 1922/23.
‘El servicio de radioaficionados en Espana’. EA4DO.
ON4PS Archives.
‘Alussa oli kipinä – Suomen Radioamatööriliiton 75-vuotishistoriikki’. SRAL.
‘Comment les Appeler?’ QST Dec. 1922
‘У истоков мирового радиолюбительского движения’. (Хроника:1898-1928гг). UY5XE
Radioamataor Nr.18 1925  2p.