• "First Ham Radio Set," ca. 1921. Courtesy Arizona State University Libraries, via Mountain West Digital Library. 

    More info
    Select an item:
    "First Ham Radio Set," ca. 1921.
    • Date
    • 1921 ca
    • Creator
    • Unknown
    • Description
    • Barry operating his first amateur radio station "6BPI" from a loft in the garage. He constructed it when he was only 12 years old. It became a lifelong passion.
    • Rights
    • Contact Arizona State University Libraries archives@asu.edu
    • Partner
    • Mountain West Digital Library
      Arizona State University Libraries

  • "Ham Radio and Equipment Operator at Short Creek," 1953. Courtesy Utah State Historical Society, via Mountain West Digital Library. 

    More info
    Select an item:
    "Ham Radio and Equipment Operator at Short Creek," 1953.
    • Date
    • 1953
    • Description
    • Short Creek, Arizona, was a town inhabited by people from Utah who chose to continue to practice polygamy after the LDS Church had renounced it in the 1890's. There was a surprise raid on the town by the Arizona government in 1953, during which ... more
      Short Creek, Arizona, was a town inhabited by people from Utah who chose to continue to practice polygamy after the LDS Church had renounced it in the 1890's. There was a surprise raid on the town by the Arizona government in 1953, during which all the women and children were taken into state custody and the men were prosecuted. The case against them was eventually dismissed and the polygamists were allowed to return home. In 1958 the name of the town was changed to Colorado City. less
    • Rights
    • Digital Image (c) 2004 Utah State Historical Society. All Rights Reserved.
    • Partner
    • Mountain West Digital Library
      Utah State Historical Society
    • Contributing Institution
    • Utah State Historical Society

  • "Technicians secure a solar panel to an Orbiting Satellites Carrying Amateur Radio (OSCAR) program satellite," 1987. Courtesy National Archives and Records Administration. 

    More info
    Select an item:
    "Technicians secure a solar panel to an Orbiting Satellites Carrying Amateur Radio (OSCAR) program satellite," 1987.
    • Date
    • 08/28/1987
    • Creator
    • Department of Defense. American Forces Information Service. Defense Visual Information Center. (1994 -)
    • Description
    • The original finding aid described this photograph as: Base: Vandenberg Air Force Base State: California (CA) Country: United States Of America (USA) Scene Camera Operator: STAFF SGT. Michael Best Release Status: Released to Public.
    • Rights
    • Unrestricted
    • Partner
    • National Archives and Records Administration
      National Archives at College Park - Still Pictures
    • Contributing Institution
    • National Archives at College Park - Still PicturesNational Archives at College Park - Still Pictures

  • "At the Controls," ca. 1960. Barry Goldwater's amateur radio operating station, K7UGA, in the Ham Shack which was located at his Paradise Valley home. Courtesy Arizona State University Libraries, via Mountain West Digital Library. 

    More info
    Select an item:
    "At the Controls," ca. 1960.
    • Date
    • 1960 ca
    • Creator
    • Unknown
    • Description
    • Barry Goldwater's amateur radio operating station, K7UGA, in the Ham Shack which was located at his Paradise Valley home.
    • Rights
    • Contact Arizona State University Libraries archives@asu.edu
    • Partner
    • Mountain West Digital Library
      Arizona State University Libraries

The development of the radio has it roots in trial and error, in experimentation with transmitting sounds, extending ranges, and pushing the limits of what radio could do. This experimental attitude did not end with Marconi, however. Though the basics of how we use radio today were established in the early 1900s, amateur experimentation with the medium continued through the twentieth century.

Before the sinking of the Titanic, amateur radio broadcasters were often unregulated. Users picked their own call letters and worked without a license. After the Titanic sank, and was unable to reach another ship’s radio operator for help because the receiver had been turned off for the evening, new radio laws were put into place. Part of the Radio Act of 1912, beyond mandating that radios had to be constantly monitored, created new licensing regulations. The bill essentially kicked amateur radio broadcasters off the professionally used and mandated long radio waves. That brought them back to the experimental level again, working on shorter wavelengths.

By 1922, amateur radio operators, pushing for recognition amidst rumors that the big networks were trying to silence them, issued a definition for themselves. They determined an amateur radio operator as "one who operates a radio station, transmitting or receiving, without pay or personal gain, merely for personal interest." Their better-known title, "ham" radio operators (originally a derisive label taken from the equally pejorative "ham actor"), gained popularity in the 1950s, along with a new rise in amateur radio operators. In a move to formally stake a claim on the airwaves, the first amateur radio satellite OSCAR (Orbiting Satellites Carrying Amateur Radio) was launched in 1961.