It Seemed to Them:
Early QST Editorials

1915 December

cover

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First Issue - Hiram Percy Maxim and Clarence D. Tuska announce the creation of a new monthly magazine, which is to be the organ of the American Radio Relay League, which itself was founding in 1914. Maxim and Tuska were personally covering the costs of the first four issues, in the hope that subscriptions (at $1 a year) would come in to keep the enterprise afloat.
QST announce

The first issue had some 27 items, as cataloged in the League's online archive at http://www.arrl.org/
members-only/
qqnsearch.html
(members only).

The early League was very much about "Radio Relaying". Today, the name American Radio Relay League is puzzling to many of us who are not aware of the history -- so much so that the League has adopted the secondary name "the National Association for Amateur Radio" just to put on a clear public face.

In 1915, the League's "List of Stations Book" had some 600 radio amateurs using spark gap transmitters and coherer or crystal receivers. The typical range of communication was limited to a few hundred miles, so practical message relaying required a string of stations to carry a message from source to destination. Designated stations would serve in "Trunk lines" between major cities, much like the telephone network. The League would issue qualified operators an "Official League License" for 50 cents. But, the big news was the decision to start the publication of QST.

"After considering the matter for several months, it has finally been decided to issue regularly some kind of a bulletin to League members. During last winter, the need for this was very apparent. Many stations would have been brought together which never got together, if there had been a regular circular distributed which contained general information. The difficulty has always been how to pay for it. The members did not order the new List of Stations book and License Certificates as fast as they ought to have, and the officers had to go down in their own pockets to pay the printers bill, clerical help, postage, supplies, etc. It did not seem wise to continue to spend money on circulars or bulletins unless the members indicated enough interest to at least get the List of Stations book.

"After obtaining the views of several members and thinking it over, the President and Secretary finally decided to risk a few more dollars on a different plan. This new plan was to make the circular or bulletin take the form of a magazine, which the membership would be willing to support. Enough money would have to be put in to distribute three or four issue's of the magazine in order that the amateurs throughout the country could get acquainted with it and come to like it well enough to be willing to buy it.

"After much hard work, the President and Secretary out of their own pockets have produced QST Nr 1. It constitutes the first bulletin of general information on relay matters, and they hope to follow it each month with a new one. At the end of three months, the President and Secretary hope that QST will be able to pay for itself, and that the sale of Books and Licenses will have brought in enough money to pay back to the two officers mentioned, the sums which have been advanced to print and distribute the recent list of Stations Books, Message Blanks, License Certificates, etc.

"Of course the success of this plan hinges upon whether the membership will send in their dollar right away for the List of Stations book and the License Certificate and also whether they will subscribe to QST. If they do, we are all right, and we have a fine future promised us. If they do not-then the President and Secretary will have lost their money and wasted a lot of hard work.

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