Includes bibliographical references (p. -214) and index.
This is a history of ham radio culture: how ham radio enthusiasts formed identity and community through their technical hobby, from the 1930s through the Cold War. Decades before the Internet, ham radio provided instantaneous, global, person-to-person communication. Hundreds of thousands of amateur radio operators - a predominantly male, middle- and upper- class group known as "hams" - built and operated two-way radios for recreation in mid-twentieth century America. In "Ham Radio's Technical Culture", Kristen Haring looks at ham culture: why so many adopted this technical hobby and how the pastime helped them form identity and community. Ham radio required solitary tinkering with sophisticated electronics equipment, often isolated from domestic activities in a "radio shack, " yet thrived on fraternal interaction. Conversations on the air grew into friendships, and hobbyists gathered in clubs or met informally for "eyeball contacts." Within this community, hams developed distinct values and practices with regard to radio, creating what Haring calls a "technical culture." Outsiders viewed amateur radio operators with a mixture of awe and suspicion, impressed by hams' mastery of powerful technology but uneasy about their contact with foreigners. Drawing on a wealth of personal accounts found in radio magazines and newsletters and on technical manuals, trade journals, and government documents, Haring describes how ham radio culture rippled through hobbyists' lives. She explains why hi-tech employers recruited hams and why electronics manufacturers sought out these specialty customers. She discusses hams' position within the military and civil defense during the Second World War and the Cold War as well as the effect of the hobby on family dynamics. By considering ham radio in the context of technical hobbies - model building, photography, high-fidelity audio, and other popular pursuits - Haring shows what experiences were shared by people who took up various technologies for leisure and how their perspectives influenced attitudes toward technology beyond hobby communities. (source: Nielsen Book Data)