RADIO AMATEURS ARE CALLED HAMS
The word HAM as applied to 1908 was the station call of the first amateur wireless
stations operated by some amateurs of the Harvard Radio Club. They were Albert S.
Hyman, Bob Almy and Poogie Murray. At first they called their station
Hyman-Almy-Murray. Tapping out such a long name in code soon became tiresome
and called for a revision. They changed it to Hy-Al-Mu, using the first two letters of
each of their names.
Early in 1909 some confusion resulted between signals from amateur wireless station
HYALMU and a Mexican ship named HYALMO. They then decided to use only the first
letter of each name and the station call became HAM.
In those early pioneer days of unregulated radio, amateur operators picked their own
frequency and call letters. Then, as now, some amateurs had better signals than
commercial stations. The resulting interference came to the attention of
congressional committees in Washington and Congress gave much time to proposed
legislation designed to critically limit amateur radio activity.
In 1911, Albert Hyman chose the controversial Wireless Regulation Bill as the topic for
his thesis at Harvard. His instructor insisted that a copy be sent to Senator David I.
Walsh, a member of one of the committees hearing the bill. The senator was so
impressed with the thesis that he asked Hyman to appear before the committee.
Albert Hyman took the stand and described how the little station was built and almost
cried when he told the crowded committee room that if the bill went through they
would have to close down the station because they could not afford the license fees
and all the other requirements which the bill imposed on amateur stations.
Congressional debate began on the Wireless Regulation Bill and little station HAM
became the symbol for all the little amateur stations in the country crying to be saved
from the menace and greed of the big commercial stations who didn't want them
around. The bill finally got to the floor of congress and every speaker talked about..
poor little station HAM.
That's how it all started. You will find the whole story in the Congressional Record.
Nation-wide publicity associated station HAM with amateur radio operators. From that
day to this and probably till the end of time in radio, an amateur is a HAM.