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SOME OTHER IDEAS ABOUT THE
AMATEUR RADIO HALL OF FAME

by James W. Nash, K4HMS/V31AW

Being slow about such things, I recently discovered that, back in May, CQ Magazine announced a group of 50 "inductees" into something called "The Amateur Radio Hall of Fame." I read this carefully since induction very is important in radio. Still, especially since CQ forgot to ask my opinion, I am compelled to provide this alternative, no doubt outlaw-view. I do so, nevertheless, with all due respect to the magazine and whoever was involved.

I will grant that their criteria for the list logically allows the inclusion of a large number of non-hams, as well as hams included mainly because theyíre celebrities. So what follows is more the use of alternate criteria than it is criticism. I believe we can find plenty of hall-of-fame-hams who have earned such status by virtue of their amateur radio activities alone.

The CQ list is available on the magazineís website. The fact is that over 20% of the list consists of non-ham inventors and scientists. (Three are listed as inventor of the transistor.) Three non-hams are apparently present by virtue of close connections with a certain magazine. Three are licensees but also TV or radio celebrities or executives. There are two kings and a prime minister (yes, thatís Hussein, Juan Carlos, and Rajiv Ghandi,) one of whom is even still alive. These three have calls after their names, but, overall, almost one-third of the inductees do not.
 

The Deserving but not Licensed

Actually, most of the listed and licensed (living and dead) are unquestionably great hams. Even I will admit that two of the apparently never-licensed (in addition to Marconi) have a legitimate claim to being on the list, as follows:

--Edwin Howard Armstrong. The great technical genius of radio history. Armstrong clearly deserves to be on the list, despite his apparent non-ham status. In fact, he probably operated an amateur station back before licenses were issued. He was also directly involved in a great event of AR history, the Transatlantic Tests of 1923 and Radio Club of America Station 1BCG.

--Hidetsugsu Yagi. Yagi may be the only other non-licensee who deserves to be on the list. But not only because of the antenna. Instead, Yagi was evidently a major force in bringing back amateur radio to Japan after World War II. Dude didnít need a license. As to the controversy over his invention, see below under "Uda."
 

The Annotated

Since it isnít my list, maybe itís irrelevant who I think should or should not be there. However, some of the entries need to be annotated with some important facts:

--Clinton DeSoto, W1CBD. I agree DeSoto should probably be on the list. However, I seriously doubt that DeSoto, as CQ says, "originate(d) DXCC." Not alone anyway. DeSoto was the guy who put the views of a number of people on paper and came up with a set of rules for DXCCóit was a committee effort. Nor is there any record that he was actually working any DX. Still, not a bad choice.

--Hertz, Heinrich. Hertz may indeed have invented "radio," whereas Marconi invented "the radio." However, if you bring Hertz into this hall of fame, how about James Clerk Maxwell, without whose equations Hertz would have been helping Tesla put on electricity shows. The real problem with including theoreticians and inventors on a list like this is thereís no limit to them. They are many and great, and it took at least three of them to invent the transistor. Theyíll come in and take over everything. What about Thomas Edison, Michael Faraday, Reginald A. Fessenden, J.A. Flemming, who werenít named here? Itís difficult to single out just a few.

--Tesla, Nikola. A great genius, if not exactly a direct contributor to AR. Towering innovator. Certifiably nuts. Lived in a hotel suite in NYC with a bunch of pigeons who left their spoor etc. all over the place. Obsessive about germs (except pigeon germs.) Too bad he didnít have a license, since he would have fit right in on 75 meters. Tesla may have developed radio before Marconi, as some suggest, but if he did the achievement got lost in all that pigeon dung.

--Uda, Shintaro. Probably co-inventor with Yagi of "the Yagi." But apparently not many connections with amateur radio. As for the controversy over the invention, I have read that some people believe Uda invented the antenna himself and Yagi came along and hogged the credit. But if youíll look at the articles on the subject appearing in the Proceedings of the IRE in the 1920ís, and examine the careers of each, it will seem distinctly possible that Yagi came up with the concept and his younger colleague and student, Uda,, did the soldering (and deservedly got part of the credit.) It is worth noticing that Yagi was the most distinguished radio engineer in Asia at the time and the only Japanese Fellow of the IRE. Perhaps some of our JA friends possess inside knowledge on this question can set us all straight.

--Weil, Danny. Iíll definitely go for putting Danny on the list, right up there at the top just behind Hiram Percy Maxim. Just a couple of addenda: Danny certainly "popularized DXpeditioning" as CQ says, but it is worth noticing that a man named Bob Roberts, G2RO, had already established the sailing Dxpedition a few years before Danny came along. In fact, the sailing radio expedition went back to about 1923. So hereís at least a nod to old Bob. Also, I wonder how many people (other than me) remember Dannyís appearance on the Groucho Marx TV show, "Whatís My Line?" But one thingís for sure--this man was one of a kind. How many hams in the history of the hobby have killed sharks with dum-dums? Not many.
 

Some Additions

I know I said itís not my list. But, now, having perhaps (subtly) eliminated some inventors, celebrities, etc., I canít resist adding some people whom I believe were badly slighted, and no doubt would have made the list had it not included Arthur Godfrey. (P.S. I remember the Arthur Godfrey radio program and it was great. But, Hall of Fame, no way.)

--Frank Lucas, W8CRA. DXCC Certificate #1(Pre-war). The first great American DXer. Lucas was also possessed of one of the greatest ears of all timeóhe was reportedly able to identify almost every DX call on the air during the late 30ís by the fist, the impact of propagation on the signal, and other individual characteristics.

--John L. Reinartz, 1QP/1XAM. Reinartz invented the first practical CW tuner and a number of other important circuits. It was Reinhartz who introduced propagation science to amateur radio. He conducted research which helped establish the "ionized reflecting layer hypothesis," previously proposed by Kennelly and Heaviside. He participated in the very first Transatlantic QSOís in 1923, and served as radio operator for the McMillan Arctic Expedition of 1925.

--Ross A. Hull, licensed in Australia as 3JU, but apparently not in the U.S. Technical genius, Editor of QST, great pre-war VHF pioneer, discoverer of VHF air mass boundary propagation. Unfortunately, Hull was electrocuted while building a television set in 1938

--Robert Denniston, VP2VI/WōDX. Leader of the first modern Dxpedition ("Gon-Wacky") in 1947; 160 meter DX pioneer; President of the ARRL. That enough?

--Rod Newkirk, W9BRD. Had a hard time working Cuba, but was in my book the best and most interesting of all writers on amateur radio subjects. After Newkirk retired from doing the "Howís DX" section of QST, everything in amateur radio seemed to become much too serious.

--The Unnamed. Not to mention the following missing greats: the greatest traffic handler of all times; the ham who has performed the most heroic action while participating in amateur radio emergency service operations; the greatest CW operator of all times; etc. There must be a lot of these. (P.S. Iím aware CQ has also set up DX and contesting halls of fameóbut weíre talking about an overall AR garden of greats.)

You get the idea. As the CQ people know, you canít get Ďem all right, and you canít please everybody. Still, if anyone has other ideas for an "all-ham amateur radio hall of fame" let me know.

About the writer:
Jim Nash, K4HMS,
nashcom1@flash.net, has published articles in QST and the DX Magazine. He is the author of an unpublished history of DXing and is presently working on still more unpublished work. When not practicing law in Houston, he is often found on 20 CW. He will gladly respond to email messages sent by calm, informative people who are not just trying to show off their superior knowledge (since thatís his job.)