Developments that spelled the end of Ham Radio ...

Developments that spelled the end of ham radio (as pronounced by pessimists of the time, limited mostly to the US):

  • The introduction of licensing. 5 wpm code required (1912)
  • Code requirement increased to 10 wpm (1917)
  • Cessation of activity due to WWI (1917-1919)
  • The Alexander Bill proposed (1919)
  • Spark gap transmitters banned on newly allocated 80, 40, 20, and 5 meter bands (1924)
  • Spark gap transmitters made illegal on the ham bands (1926)
  • The Federal Radio Commission created (1927)
  • The Great Depression (1933)
  • Establishment of the FCC (1934)
  • License restructuring. Code requirement increased to 13 wpm. Accurate logging required. Mobile or portable operation required written notice to the FCC. (1934)
  • 40m to be shared with broadcasters (1938)
  • FCC introduces multiple-choice tests (1939)
  • US amateurs prohibited from contacting other countries. All licensees required to supply fingerprints, photo, and proof of citizenship to FCC (1940)
  • 80m taken over by Army (1941)
  • Cessation of activity due to WWII (1942-1945)
  • Citizen’s Radio Service established (1949)
  • Licensing restructuring (1951)
  • 5 khz of 20m allocated to other services (1954)
  • Sputnik launched. Satellite communications starts to become a reality (1957)
  • 11m allocation lost to Citizen’s Band (1958)
  • There are more CBers than Hams (1963)
  • Incentive licensing (1964)
  • Solid State equipment begins to overtake tube equipment (1970)
  • Novices are allowed to use radios with a VFO, and logging requirements are
  • relaxed (1972)
  • Waiting period for Extra class license reduced to a year (1973)
  • CB licensing fee reduced from $20 to $4. CB radio is made popular by movies and truckers (1975)
  • Code sending test was waived (1977)
  • Instant upgrades (/AE) allowed. Moving to a new call district no longer required a change of callsign (1978)
  • Computers show up in the ham shack (1980)
  • Cell phone network begins to be constructed (1983)
  • Testing no longer required to take place at FCC field offices (1984)
  • Novice enhancement (1987)
  • Military and commercial use of Morse code ceases (1988)
  • No-code Technician license (1991)
  • Eternal September. Internet makes possible things only done through ham radio previously. The Internet will kill ham radio (1993)
  • Vanity callsigns introduced (no really, I remember people griping that it would kill the hobby!) (1995)
  • Radio Shack goes bankrupt (morally) (1997)
  • Nextel’s PTT cell phone technology will kill ham radio (1999)
  • License restructuring - Morse code requirement reduced to 5 wpm (2000)
  • Cell phones have replaced ham radio for a number of early adopters of no-code Tech license (“On my way honey, do we need bread?”). Many tech licences begin to lapse (2001)
  • Removal of the Morse code testing requirement (2003)
  • Widespread Internet availability will kill ham radio (2005)
  • Facebook will kill ham radio (2006)
  • Twitter will kill ham radio (2008)
  • WSPR (2008)
  • Reddit will kill ham radio (2009)
  • Smartphones will kill ham radio (2010)
  • Free unlimited calls, text, and long distance on cell phones will kill ham radio (2011)
  • Cheap Chinese radios (2013)
  • Radio Shack goes bankrupt (financially) (2015)
  • Free vanity callsigns in the US (2015)
  • Radio Shack goes bankrupt (financially, again) (2017)
  • FT8 (2017)
  • FT4 (2019)

I’m not worried.1


Editors note:

This list is from the discussion thead following VK6FLAB’s post of the transcript from his “Lamenting the decline of the hobby” episode of his his weekly ‘Foundations of Amateur Radio’ podcast on the Amateur Radio sub-reddit.


  1. “Lamenting the decline of the hobby”, reddit.com Amateur Radio, retrieved December 21 2019, https://www.reddit.com/r/amateurradio/comments/ediyby/oc_lamenting_the_decline_of_the_hobby/. [return]