Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Book cover: "So you want to be a Ham"

I thought this post would be thematically appropriate, given all the QSL cards that have been featured on Papergreat over the years...


  • Title: So you want to be a Ham
  • Author: Robert Hertzberg (1905-1992)
  • Cover artist: Unknown
  • Publisher: Howard W. Sams & Co., Inc., of Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Publication date: 1977 (Seventh Edition, Second Printing)
  • Original publication date: 1955
  • Seventh Edition price: $5.95 (That price in 1977 is the equivalent of about $25 today, so this was a pricey tome.)
  • Price I paid: $3.50 at The York Emporium
  • Pages: 189
  • Format: Paperback
  • Back cover excerpt: "Modern radiocommunications is one of the most fascinating technological advancements of our time. It has played a major role in making the world appear smaller than it is. An amateur radio operator, using only a small amount of power, can talk to fellow hams in distant countries. What better way is there to learn more about the world than to talk to someone who lives in another country thousands of miles away?"
  • About the author: Col. Robert Edward Hertzberg, who used the call signs 2ABK, W2DJJ and K4JBI during his lifetime, is profiled on the Quarter Century Wireless Association website. This is his mini biography that appears on the back cover of So you want to be a Ham:
    "Robert Hertzberg was only 15 years old when he received his amateur license on December 17, 1919. The next day, using a buzzer transmitter and a crystal receiver, he worked his first station. It was only two blocks away, but he has never forgotten the thrill that it gave him. Over the years that followed, his equipment has progressed from crude spark to sophisticated sideband, and to this day he gets a kick out of every new contact, local or DX.

    "While in college, Bob received $5.00 from an early radio magazine for a description of a homemade code-practice oscillator. Almost immediately, he turned his interests toward technical journalism. During a busy career as both editor and writer, he has authored more than thirty books and countless magazine articles.

    "In the late 1920s, he helped organize and promote the Army Amateur Radio System. This led to a commission in the Army Reserves, to five years of active duty during World War II, and to eventual retirement as a Colonel."
  • First paragraph: "It is late in the afternoon of a wintry day and you're killing time before supper. All you can find on TV is an old Western in which the 'good guy' manages to coax nine or ten shots out of a six-shooter without reloading. For relief, you turn on the old all-wave console radio you have retained for just such emergencies. As the set warms up, a lot of grinding noise comes out of the speaker."
  • Last paragraph: "As a hobby, ham radio seems to be closely related to shooting and photography. It is interesting to read the classified ads and to note that receivers, transmitters, rifles, pistols, cameras, and enlargers are always for sale or wanted."
  • Well, that's disturbing: Yes.
  • Random sentence from middle: "A picnic in the country becomes doubly enjoyable if you park your car in some quiet, secluded spot, preferably on a hill, where reception and transmission are both good."
  • Excerpt from a review: Written by W4KYR on Halloween 2016 for eHam.net:
    "This is the Fifth Edition, published in 1971 by Howard Sams & Co. This book was in my local library around the very early 1970's. When I saw this on one of the online bookstores going for under $5 I snapped it up.

    "From a purely historical point of view, this paperback classic is filled with photos of hams at their stations using now what we call vintage equipment. One picture was of a lady ham from Iowa who could send and receive at an impressive 60 wpm. Another picture is a ham who has his rig on the floor behind the driver's seat! The rig was so big that he couldn't even fit it under his dash. ...

    "If you are an older ham, this book should bring back some memories. If you are a newer ham, then buy this book for an exciting snapshot of our past. You should be able to pick this book at one of the online used bookstores for a few dollars. The historical pictures alone just about makes it a must buy. This book gets an 5 out of 5, but purely from an historical point of view."

Bonus interior photo

"Mrs. Eileen Cline ... often flabbergasts other hams by sending at 60 words per minute"

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