It Seemed to Them:
Early QST Editorials

1916 July

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The Editorials section begins with an extended correspondence with the publisher of "The Electrical Experimenter", a magazine where ARRL wanted to advertise for itself and QST.

That magazine was having none of it -- advertising for a competitor! But Clarence Tuska points out that the League is definitely in a different league!

This exchange probably helped the fledgling ARRL to further define its unique purpose and position in the new and vigorous radio "ecosystem".

The Experimenter Publishing Co., Inc.,
233 Pulton St., New York, N. Y.
Attention Mr. Milton Hymes.

Dear Sir:

Replying to your letter of the 23rd, we wish to suggest that you reconsider the idea of competitiveness between QST and the Electrical Experimenter. The AMERICAN RADIO RELAY LEAGUE and QST are operating organizations. QST is devoted to the actual operating conditions. We regard the Electrical Experimenter as a companion magazine; a magazine of an entirely different type. Your paper is devoted to Articles which would interest an experimenter and one who wished to keep abreast of the electrical news. Our paper is to keep each amateur in touch with the other regarding the operations of their stations. We feel that the magazines are being developed along entirely different lines and are companion papers. One is not completely satisfied with one and not the other. This means that the more QST's are sold, the greater will be the demand for the Electrical Experimenter.

The idea of competitiveness seems far­fetched and we trust that you will reconsider the subject and favor us with an immediate reply.

Cordially yours,
THE AMERICAN RADIO RELAY LEAGUE, INC.
(Sgd.) C. D. Tuska, Secy.

The Audion is the big new technical topic. (See January, 1916 issue.) It makes possible the use of "undamped waves". Instead of undamped, we now say "continuous". This is the birth of CW in amateur radio.

The common spark gap transmitters generated "damped waves", characterized by a ringing oscillation that decays (is damped) over a number of cycles. Damped waves cover a broad spectrum, but CW, as a pure tone (no damping), occupies a very small range of frequencies, permitting efficient heterodyne detectors built around the Audio vacuum tube.

This technology must have seemed incredibly exotic at the time, but of course now CW techniques are the basic building block of almost all Amateur Radio.

Undamped Waves

The amateur is certainly showing his color when he so soon begins making use of undamped waves. It is a sign of the times because Sayville himself was using the ordinary spark only a few months ago.

It reminds us of a discussion we took part in recently, with one of the Government District Radio Inspectors. The latter was commenting upon the tremendous improvement in knowledge on the part of the amateur. This year, it is the rule that the amateur gets better than 85% out of a possible 95%, on an examination for First Grade Commercial License. Three years ago, it was unusual for the average amateur to secure 75%. It seems that the full 95% would often times be the mark obtained today, but for the little technicalities which indicate carelessness rather than lack of knowledge of the subject.

We asked this Inspector where he thought the amateur equipment would be five years hence. He said, he had not the least doubt that every good amateur would be transmitting by means of undamped oscillations and that he would consider it absolutely necessary to be able to hear all the high power arc stations in the world, five years from now. This nearly caused us to reel off our chair when we first heard it, but a little thought made it look quite reasonable. The average amateur equipment among the better stations is today more sensitive than the average commercial station. This, together with the influx of mature men into the game, have brought about a general readiness to spend money on equipment. Where $50 on a piece of apparatus seemed beyond the limit three years ago, $250 is now choked down with not much gagging. Some amateur is to be the forerunner of a lot of undamped wave work, and we are waiting for it. Nothing will help us perfect a country-wide relay system so quickly. Welcome, Mr. Undamped Wave and watch us amateurs lick you into shape for overlgpd transmission. We will find a way to operate you with apparatus of moderate cost.

Somebody says, "Why not give special appointments to stations which will equip to handle undamped waves?" It certainly opens up a new line. Our District Managers will probably think long and seriously about this question, because it is they whom' we depend upon to bridge the long gaps. Undamped waves would certainly help do this especially when it comes to local interference.

If it turns out that transmitting apparatus can be developed for transmitting undamped waves, and which will be at moderate price, it might be that there would be something in this idea of creating a higher class certificate for undamped wave stations. They certainly would be entitled to it. They would become what would amount to the old Star Stations. We could count upon them for the long distance work. This is one of the things which we must all bear in mind as time goes on, and the undamped wave comes into more general use.

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