Term 'Ham Radio'

  • Have you ever wondered why amateur radio amateurs are called ‘HAMS’?

    According to many sources the word ‘ham’ was applied in 1908 and was the call letters of one of the first Amateur wireless stations operated by some members of the HARVARD RADIO CLUB. There were Albert S. Hyman, Bob Almy and Peggie Murray.

    Initially they called their station Hyman-Almy-Murry. Communicating via Morse Code, their long names were tedious. They decided to change it to HY-AL-MU, using the first two letters of each name.

    In 1909, some confusion resulted between signals from their amateur radio station HYALMU and a Mexican ship named HYALMO. They decided to use only the first letter of each name and the call became HAM.

    In the early pioneer, unregulated days of radio, amateur radio operators picked their own frequency and call letters. At times. interference occurred between commercial radio stations and amateur radio stations. Congressional committees in Washington addressed the topic and 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, he sent for Hyman to appear before the committee. He was put on the stand and described how an amateur radio station was built, mostly from home brew parts. While appearing before the committee, he almost cried when he told the crowded committee room that if the bill went through, they would have to close up the station because they could not afford the license fees and all the other requirements that were set up in the proposed bill.

    The debate started and their station ‘HAM’ became a symbol of all the other amateur radio stations in the country crying out to be saved from menace and greed of the big commercial stations who did not want them around. When the bill arrived on the floor of Congress, every speaker talked about the poor little station “HAM.”

    This story is noted in the Congressional Record and thus the nickname “HAM” will forever address our hobby.

  • The Amateur Radio Code

  • Considerate …never knowingly operates in such a way as to lessen the pleasure of others.

    Loyal …offers loyalty, encouragement, and support to other amateurs, local clubs, and the American Radio Relay League, through which Amateur Radio in the United States is represented nationally and internationally.

    Progressive …with knowledge abreast of science, a well-built and efficient station, and operation above reproach.

    Friendly …slow and patient operating when requested; friendly advice and counsel to the beginner; kindly assistance, cooperation, and consideration for the interests of others. These are the hallmarks of the amateur spirit.

    Balanced …radio is an avocation, never interfering with duties owed to family, job, school, or community.

    Patriotic …station and skill always ready for service to country and community.

    – adapted from the original Amateur’s Code, written by Paul M. Segal, W9EEA, in 1928.”