From Florida Skip Magazine - 1959 - Issued - January 2001
Have you ever wondered why radio amateurs are called "HAMS"? Well,
it goes like this: The word "HAM" as applied to 1908 was the station
CALL of the first amateur wireless stations operated by some
amateurs of the Harvard Radio Club. They were ALBERT S. HYMAN, BOB
ALMY and POOGIE MURRAY.
At first they called their station "HYMAN-ALMY-MURRAY". Tapping out
such a long name in code soon became tiresome and called for a
revision. They changed it to "HY-AL-MU", using the first two letters
of each of their names. Early in 1901 some confusion resulted
between signals from amateur wireless station "HYALMU" and a Mexican
ship named "HYALMO". They then decided to use only the first letter
of each name, and the station CALL became "HAM".
In the early pioneer days of unregulated radio amateur operators
picked their own frequency and call-letters. Then, as now, some
amateurs had better signals than commercial stations. The resulting
interference came to the attention of congressional committees in
Washington and Congress gave much time to proposed legislation
designed to critically limit amateur radio activity. In 1911, ALBERT
HYMAN chose the controversial WIRELESS REGULATION BILL as the topic
for his Thesis at Harvard. His instructor insisted that a copy be
sent to Senator DAVID I. WALSH, a member of one of the committees
hearing the Bill. The Senator was so impressed with the thesis is
that he asked HYMAN to appear before the committee. ALBERT HYMAN
took the stand and described how the little station was built and
almost cried when he told the crowded committee room that if the
BILL went through that they would have to close down the station
because they could not afford the license fees and all the other
requirements which the BILL imposed on amateur stations.
Congressional debate began on the WIRELESS REGULATION BILL and
little station "HAM" became the symbol for all the little amateur
stations in the country crying to be saved from the menace and greed
of the big commercial stations that didn't want them around. The
BILL finally got to the floor of Congress and every speaker talked
about the "...poor little station HAM". That's how it all started.
You will find the whole story in the Congressional Record.
Nation-wide publicity associated station "HAM" with amateur radio
operators. From that day to this, and probably until the end of time
in radio an amateur is a "HAM"