Your Editor's Note in the December 2010 issue of Microwaves & RF Magazine regarding the role that ham (amateur) radio played/plays in the development and evolution of RF engineering triggered a cascade of memories that I think you might find interesting.
Upon finding and somehow fixing a Table-Model Aetna Superhetrodyne Broadcast & Short-Wave Band Radio Receiver in the basement of my home in the early 1950s, I subsequently strung-up a long piece of wire for an antenna and soon found my curiosity captured by shortwave radio listening. Shortly thereafter I told my father (a master automotive mechanic) about hearing people who called to each other by saying CQ, and he said they were hams, whereupon he arranged to take me to visit a customer friend that he called "Guey" (this friend's amateur radio station call letters were W9GUE).
A few evenings later, Harold ("Guey") led Dad and me into his backyard that was full of long wires strung between poles and a strange looking tower. Harold's backyard also contained a small extra house that he called a "shack." The "shack" was jammed full of strange looking apparati that Harold said was war surplus radio equipment, among which there was a prominently located BC610 AM Transmitter that Harold had labeled "The Kilowatt."
With the radio equipment allowed to warm up, Harold firmly squeezed the microphone stem of the transmitter. The room lights dimmed as the BC610 came to life, and flickered as Harold spoke into the microphone saying, "CQ, CQ, CQ, this is W9GUE." Upon releasing his grip on the microphone stem, a crackly voice was heard to reply which Harold said was coming from somewhere in Europe.
Harold and the European ham talked for several minutes. Hollywood science fiction movies had nothing that could be as exciting as the reality that unfolded before my eyes when visiting Harold and his strange looking radio equipment on that night so long ago. That did it! I was smitten for life. In that moment my passion for radio was born.
Robert R. Kornowski