It Seemed to Them:
Early QST Editorials

1916 September

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The summer season was slow, probably because of poor propagation conditions. ARRL looks ahead to great things in the Fall - Winter season ahead.


The coming of September brings the opening of the season of 1916-17. While static does not ease off materially, yet the Pall officially opens, people begin to put away summer things and summer ideas, and we wireless bugs begin taking stock of what we are going to do. Many of us go away during the summer months and our stations are entirely closed as far as operating is concerned, but when old September gets around and we wander home among the first things we do is to give the set a look over. It is a good scheme. It marks a new chapter and we unconsciously take a brace and try to make things better.

This season is going to see the beginning of (many new) things among us amateurs. The manufacturers, for one thing, have waked up to the fact that we of the American Radio Relay League actually handle a respectable traffic, and that it will pay to produce the apparatus necessary to carry on this work and expedite it. This season sees the coming of the use of undamped waves among us amateurs. The DeForest Company, for example, have developed a special undamped wave transmitter which we shall report upon inthese columns in our next issue. The amateur regenerative receiving set is also come, as Mr. Godley has pointed out in his article from the transactions of the Radio Club of America. Greater knowledge regarding the use of the audion detector has come and many of us know the value of new combinations of condenser and voltage as well as different hook-ups.

In transmitting efficiency, the average amateur throughtout the country is altogether better equipped than he was this time last year, and we do not hesitate to say that QST had a hand in bringing about this improved condition. Through the columns of our League paper, each one of us is brought face to face with the fact that some stations are heard distances out of all proportion to what others of us are able to do. This always makes for study of the problem and the determinations to do as well. Last season the big work was done by a handful of us. This season there will be several handfuls of us able to transmit two hundred miles and better.

The Government is also giving us more consideration than we ever were fortunate enough to possess before. Witness the number of special licenses issued in the interior states where it is shown that the operator means business and needs a special in order to fill gaps in our various trunk lines.

So, we repeat, things are going to happen this season, and it behooves every one of us amateurs to keep his eyes peeled and watch the columns of this rapidly growing magazine.

Many new radio technologies have been pioneered by technically advanced amateurs -- and by those who have the financial means to be "early adopters". The "undamped wave" technology, which we now know as CW, was the first of many technical revolutions in Amateur Radio.

Today, we are likely to think of "CW" as a synonym for Morse Code, but that's not quite right. CW (continuous wave) referred to the pure, narrowband note that could be only be generated by vacuum tube (Audion) oscillators. The contrast with the broad, raspy spark gap signals must have been dramatic.


Much discussion of undamped wave work is coming to us here at Headquarters. It seems that the amateurs financially able to bear the expense, are arranging to put in undamped transmitters. Their number is of course limited although it is growing rapidly. On the other hand, many amateurs are talking about undamped receiving sets. These are less expensive, as it is only a matter of hook-up which can be worked out by one's self without much additional apparatus.

Stations located on existing trunk lines must watch out for their laurels, if things go on, because it is not the geographic location which determines the route of a message, so much as the ability to span long distances. Our existing trunk lines would be modified very quickly should it develop that messages could be got through easier by way of other routes than those indicated by our trunk lines. No one knows at this writing just how this matter is going to shape up, but here at Headquarters, it seems to us that the undamped wave stations are likely to exert quite an influence on long distance traffic, which we all feel is the most attractive and interesting stuff to handle.

The regenerative receiving station is also going to have a bending effect upon our routes because the regular spark signals are going to be handled better with these sets.

Between the two we expect to see the trans-continental traffic rapidly develop and probably confine itself to special routes of its own. It is a dead sure thing that those of us selected for the trans-continental work, will feel several pegs higher up, in the list than those who handle the neighboring inter-state stuff only.

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