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Why are Radio Amateurs called "HAMS"?



Have you ever wondered why radio amateurs are called "HAMS"? Well, it goes like
this: The word "HAM" as applied to 1908 was the station CALL of the first
amateur wireless stations operated by some amateurs of the Harvard Radio Club.
They were ALBERT S. HYMAN, BOB ALMY and POOGIE MURRAY.
At first they called their station "HYMAN-ALMY-MURRAY". Tapping out such a long
name in code soon became tiresome and called for a revision. They changed it to
"HY-AL-MU", using the first two letters of each of their names. Early in 1901
some confusion resulted between signals from amateur wireless station "HYALMU"
and a Mexican ship named "HYALMO". They then decided to use only the first
letter of each name, and the station CALL became "HAM".
In the early pioneer days of unregulated radio amateur operators picked their
own frequency and call-letters. Then, as now, some amateurs had better signals
than commercial stations. The resulting interference came to the attention of
congressional committees in Washington and Congress gave much time to proposed
legislation designed to critically limit amateur radio activity. In 1911,
ALBERT HYMAN chose the controversial WIRELESS REGULATION BILL as the topic for
his Thesis at Harvard. His instructor insisted that a copy be sent to Senator
DAVID I. WALSH, a member of one of the committees hearing the Bill. The Senator
was so impressed with the thesis is that he asked HYMAN to appear before the
committee. ALBERT HYMAN took the stand and described how the little station was
built and almost cried when he told the crowded committee room that if the BILL
went through that they would have to close down the station because they could
not afford the license fees and all the other requirements which the BILL
imposed on amateur stations.
Congressional debate began on the WIRELESS REGULATION BILL and little station
"HAM" became the symbol for all the little amateur stations in the country
crying to be saved from the menace and greed of the big commercial stations who
didn't want them around. The BILL finally got to the floor of Congress and
every speaker talked about the "...poor little station HAM". That's how it all
started. You will find the whole story in the Congressional Record.
Nation-wide publicity associated station "HAM" with amateur radio operators.
From that day to this, and probably until the end of time in radio an amateur
is a "HAM"

From Florida Skip Magazine - 1959
73 de DU1LWQ/KF6ZDF

 

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