Typical Radio Amateur
From the classic, 200 Meters and Down - The Story of Amateur Radio written by Clinton B. DeSoto and published in 1936. The book opens with a description of the typical radio amateur of that era. While that trajectory has been altered by nearly 90 years of time, a few things sound oddly familiar…
The typical radio amateur of 1936 is a young man 25 years of age. He holds a license issued by the Federal Communications Commission qualifying him as an Amateur Radio Operator, Class B, and as the licensee of an Amateur Radio Station, all valid for a term of three years.
His station, which is homemade from manufactured parts purchased largely at the neighborhood parts store, utilizes radiotelegraphy exclusively, although he expects some day to try radiotelephony. The actual value of his station is about one hundred dollars. The power of the transmitter is moderate, amounting to about 100 watts input to a pair of Type 10 transmitting tubes in the output amplifier stage, which is excited by a crystal-controlled oscillator. The receiver utilizes three tubes and is of the regenerative type, with one stage of radio-frequency and one of audio-frequency amplification. His antenna system consists of a 130 foot wire with a two-wire transmission line perhaps 60 feet long, suspended well up in the clear outside his home.
This young man is a high-school graduate. He works for a living, is self-supporting, unmarried, and is employed at a technical trade. He is quite well-liked in his community, respected for his knowledge of radio with the respect due an expert. He is somewhat lax in fulfilling his social obligations, not through lack of inclination but because of lack of time. He’ll probably be married soon, and then there will be a hiatus in his amateur career, although he will eventually return to the game. He has been interested in radio for several years, a licensed amateur for nearly three. During that time he has expended approximately three hundred dollars upon his hobby.
Such is the typical radio amateur of 1936. Individuals, inevitably, depart widely from this norm. In age, they range from 8 to 80; in education, from those who halted in the grammar grades to the erudite holders of doctor’s degrees; in social status, from convicts in federal prisons to scions of wealthy families and the son of an ex-president of the United States; in occupation, from coal miners and bellhops to major executives in giant corporations. Nor are they all men: to their numbers must be added several hundred licensed feminine operators, married and unmarried, and these fall between the extremes of a little 9 year-old girl operator who can beat professionals at their own game and an aged mother who keeps in touch with her distant son - and other sons, as well- by means of amateur radio communication.