Featuring some High-Fi top tunes, and some surprises.
Relax, and, enjoy.
Featuring some High-Fi top tunes, and some surprises.
Relax, and, enjoy.
The citizens band radio service originated in the United States as one of several personal radio services regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). These services began in 1945 to permit citizens a radio band for personal communication (e.g., radio-controlled model airplanes and family and business communications). There were two classes of CB radio: A and B. Class B radios had simpler technical requirements, and were limited to a smaller frequency range. Al Gross established the Citizens Radio Corporation during the late 1940s to manufacture Class B handhelds for the general public. (The) Ultra-high frequency (UHF) radios, at the time, were neither practical nor affordable for the average consumer. On September 11, 1958 the Class D CB service was created on 27 Megacycles, and this band became what is popularly known today as CB.
During the 1960s, the service was popular among small businesses (e.g., electricians, plumbers, carpenters), truck drivers and radio hobbyists. By the late 1960s advances in solid-state electronics allowed the weight, size, and cost of the radios to fall, giving the public access to a communications medium previously only available to specialists. CB clubs were formed; a CB slang language evolved alongside 10-codes, similar to those used in emergency services. – wikipedia
These early days of CB Radio might well be referred to as the medium’s ‘Golden Age.’ There was a real fellowship shared with the participants as well as a kind of etiquette that was lost after the booming popularity that occurred in the 1970s. Until the 70s, CB users were required to purchase a license and obtain a call sign – because the bandwidth was limited, CBers would wait for an opening on a frequency to start new conversation. The Golden Age of Citizen’s Band Radio ended with a cacophony of noise created by a selfish public who cared nothing about the rules – written and/or implied – that made the medium fun and enjoyable.
Fortunately, there is one aspect of those more innocent years that remains – the CB QSL cards. QSL cards are usually postcard sized identifiers users send to others that they contact and communicate with. Not only do they give the receiver an idea of the distance of their signal for that time, they are also nice mementos that can be kept or traded as a hobby. Major broadcasters around the world, as well as amateur HAM radio operators, still send these out today. They’re usually very slick computer printed graphic designs. The mid-century CB QSL cards stand out for their creativity and the fact that they were designed by hand – each one a bit of American folk art, if you will.
Below are some examples of this curious, and endearing, part of communications history. Each one has the user’s call sign. Most of them have the location as well as their nicknames/handles. You’ll notice that couples feature big and families name mum, dad, and children – as well as pets. The ‘Philip’s Code’ numbers 73s and 88s also appear frequently – 73 is short for ‘best regards’ and 88 represents ‘love and kisses.’
Major h/ts to The Pie Shops Collection as well as myQSL.org for preserving these neat bits of Americana and presenting them for all to see. To check out more just click on their names – some of them can be considered somewhat risque so consider them NSFW. The images in this post can be considered ‘safe.’
Some of the really neat things about early-to-mid 20th century radio and television programs came in the forms of promotional items related to the shows and their characters. The Little Orphan Annie secret decoder ring immortalized in the 1983 film classic, The Christmas Story, quickly comes to mind. At times sponsors went all in with merchandise and contests as illustrated with the famous Ralston Rocket Clubhouse in this earlier post. For collectors today, these promotional items are precious gems to be searched out and acquired.
Hake’s Americana and Collectables is perhaps the best source for finding a lot of these treasures. Currently Hake’s has a very rare item available in a post auction sale. It’s a 1940 Lone Ranger prototype secret compartment ring designed by Orin Armstrong of the Robbins Co. which specialized in premium rings. Originally intended as a premium offering from sponsors of the program, an inconvenient design flaw kept it from mass production. The one currently listed at Hake’s is only the fourth ever seen by the auction house.
The listing says that the miniature glossy photos of The Lone Ranger and Silver inside the top ‘are an added attraction to the secret compartment feature.’ For today’s collectors they just might be the deal maker. Seasoned collectors might not be too surprised by the price of this scarce find, but it could come as a shock to others. It’ll cost $1,725.00 to add this to your treasured belongings. Hake’s previous sales have been between $2300 and $3200.00, so this price is actually a deal. You can find the entire listing here.
Numbers stations are mysterious shortwave radio channels of indiscernible origin that exist in countries all across the world and have been reported since World War 1. They are identifiable by the unusual contents of their broadcasts: seemingly random sequences of numbers, words, letters, tunes, and Morse code, usually spoken by artificially generated voices of women and children.
The most common theory regarding the purpose of these bizarre stations is that they’re used by governments the world over to secretly transmit encrypted commands and messages to spies. That said, even though numbers stations have been discovered all over the globe and in any number of different languages, no government has ever officially acknowledged their existence. While the espionage theory is a logical one, with no official confirmation of their purpose the jury is still out.
One particularly odd station, UVB-76, has existed since the late 1970s and has broadcast a simple, repetitive buzzing tone 24 hours a day ever since. On very rare occasions, however, listeners have reported a Russian voice interrupting the buzz to read out sequences of numbers and words, always in a consistent format — this happened once in 1997, once in 2002, once in 2006, 56 times in 2010, and 14 in 2011. As with all numbers stations, its true purpose is and will probably remain unknown, but the increase in frequency of whatever it’s doing is certainly odd.
You can listen to well over 100 recordings of numbers stations for free on archive.org but be forewarned that they’re all kind of, well, eerie. They feel like something you shouldn’t be listening to, which stands to reason since apparently you’re not supposed to know they exist.
State of the art for 1960. A shortwave radio – to bring the world closer to your dwelling. A tape recorder – to make your very own mixed tapes.
A lot of the ‘wow’ factor bundled into this beauty.
Kuba Komet stereo / television, Germany, c. 1960:
Modernistic two color wood cabinet, the rotating top housing a 21″ television, the lower cabinet with a pull down door revealing a Kuba international band radio with short wave, Imperial record turn table, Telefunken tape recorder, 8 speakers, all rising on splayed square tapered legs.
I am Scout Paget – a cyber-collector of early-to-mid 20th Century cultural imagery and artifacts. I scout the cyber-world for the curious, the classic, the fascinating, the strange – the remnants of a world now gone.
A hopeful world with dreams of an amazing future, A tragic world with war, ignorance, and naivety. A world of radio, movie theaters, dance halls, fairs, and road trips. A simpler world filled with people whose lives were occupied with family, neighbors, friends, co-workers, and community.
A world where it took a bit more to communicate to one another – face-to-face, by telephone, or by the longer process of terrestrial mails. All of which involved the human touch – a genuine smile, a voice, a post written by a human hand.
That world, and those people, are what I shall document on this page and in these posts. Each one will be a flash from the past.
Thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoy.