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Here are some images and stories about the early history of Ham Radio.  

Miami Area ham radio stores you might remember

A little history on Ham Radio Stores in Miami...

There used to be six very active stores, in the 50s, 60s & 70s, then it boiled down to four, Thurow Electronics, Electronic Wholesalers, Herman Radio, Walder Radio, and a couple of smaller ones. Then in late 70s early 80s came Amateur Radio Center when Wiley Gilkison, a former employee of Electronic Wholesalers opened his own store Amateur Radio Center. . 

Amateur Wholesale Electronics also opened, owned by Jack & Sherry Gregory. Employees of AWE helped Terry Sterman open Amateur Electronic Supply (AES) in Orlando...Terry wanted to buy out Jack of AWE, but no sale.. AWE moved to NC or Georgia, can't remember which. Mike & Eli opened their places in Ft. Lauderdale. Wiley sold out ARC and moved to the Washington. state.Walder's sold out. Gene opened his place, International Radio System opened, ...others went out of business AES opened a store in Clearwater, sold out, new owners couldn't make it due to lack of business , Gene closed his business... Harlen Ackenjack opened Communications City. International Radio Systems (IRS) went out of business. Lots of dealers lost their export business when manufacturers began to open branches in South & Central America. Hams began to prefer purchasing by mail order...thus stores went out of business...not due to owner attitude as much as buyer attitude. To my knowledge HRO never had a store in Florida, as in the beginning of their business they never had a store or exhibited at a show where there was state tax. Now almost all states have tax and buying out of town doesn't always guarantee no tax will be charged. Only thing I could never understand was folks buying a product they had never seen or twirled the knobs on and paying exorbitant shipping charges but millions are doing it via online, etc. Whoever thought someone would pay $1200 for a HW 100...they did on EBay.a fella bought out all the 'still in boxes inventory of Heathkit.made a mint of profit.  Ernie K4KIC (he's back in Miami now) can fill you in on how it was at Amateur Radio Center...great in the beginning, but lousy at the end. I can remember the good old days when we all gathered at Electronic Supply (became Electronic Wholesalers) or Hermans for coffee, lying about our DX, discussing the next transmitter hunt or big antenna project....every Saturday morning. The local hams supported the local stores, the stores participated in ham activities, donated door prizes for club meetings, etc. Yep, the time may be ripe to start over. What goes around comes around.

73 All
Evelyn W4WYR

You thought Morse tapes were bad eh??

This is a pic of an early Morse code training setup.

The way this thing works is you turn the big brass key on top of the mechanism to wind it up. it takes a good wrist to wind this thing so by just using it you'll begin to develop the coveted cw wrist. once its wound you release the mechanism by pulling a lever on the lower right hand side of the mechanism, that gets things rolling. sending speed is adjusted via a governor that uses two counterweights that fly out and force a clutch disk up against a leather peg. the speed control mechanism is very similar to what was used on early steam engines. the mechanism turns a set of notched discs (round silver things in the middle). the discs are notched to reproduce dots and dashes. a small contact rides on the notches and actuates a simple switch. so.. great.. one disk.. that gets old quick right? well they got around that by stacking multiple discs on top of each other and using a cam mechanism similar to how old 8 track machines worked. once the disc makes a
revolution it actuates a cam that shifts the contactor one slot up until it reaches the last disc, then it reverses the process to head back down the stack of discs. the discs are interchangeable so you could vary your lessons.

You would connect this gadget to a tone oscillator if you were lucky enough to own one. tubes were very expensive in the early days of radio. think of working a whole week to buy a transistor? that's sort of what its was like to buy a tube in the early 1900's! i also have the tone
oscillator for this machine. the oscillator is hand built in a walnut box and is a good example of very early electronics.

Extensive pics of both units can be viewed at "soflapics" on yahoo photos. here's the link..

Thought some of you guys would get a kick out of this little peice of ham history.

An early directory of local hams, photo by Robert, KE4MCL

Wouff hong, photo by Robert, KE4MCL


From Robert, KE4MCL:

"This is w4bd's shack. (silent key who's estate i am handling)  A Collins man at heart!  The pictures are of shack in 1962 in his home in Washington DC shack in 1970's in his key Biscayne home shack May 2001 just prior to the start of my disassembly.

"In the pic of the shack in 1962 and 1970s you can see a Collins KW-1 on the left side of the pic. These are amongst the most sought after Collins transmitters.  These transmitters are such demand that there is a list of who owns which one. Collins lovers around the world keep track of them hoping for an opportunity to snap one up. W4BD sold his for $10k a while back."

May 2001





Close ups of some Telegraph Sounders.  Photos by Robert, KE4MCL





    South Florida FM Association, 2003   

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