Charlotte Connelly – Current research into the relationship between the First World War and amateur radio

Author: Charlotte Connelly, Science Museum

Title: Current research into the relationship between the First World War and amateur radio

Abstract: Typical studies of amateur radio begin with the end of WWI, when the time and equipment were available to enthusiasts to begin building their own equipment. However, there was a community of amateur experimenters working before the War, and inevitably the War itself impacted on the experiments and experimenters. During the conflict amateur radio licenses were revoked in order control communications, but at the same time many young men were introduced to radio technologies for the first time by the military. I will briefly look at an example of the kind of activities taking place immediately before the First World War, looking at recent research into William Rathbone of Liverpool. I’ll go on to briefly describe some of the technological advances made during the war years, most notably the development of the thermionic valve. Finally, I’ll look at the arrival of amateur and professional radio broadcasting in the years following the war, and explore the military service of some of the key individuals involved in those activities. My research is ongoing, and my next steps are to look for accounts of the training that new entrant signallers (and those in similar trades) underwent in the military in the decade from 1910.

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