ARRL Vintage Amateur Radio Equipment Exhibit

The ARRL Evolution of Amateur Radio Exhibit

"Understanding the Past to Develop the Future"

Software defined transceivers, new software driven test equipment and the flurry of new digital gadgets and modes are exciting to look at and operate. As Radio Amateurs in a licensed radio service, one of our basic purposes, as stated in FCC Rules, Part 97.1b is, "(the) Continuation and extension of the Amateur's proven ability to contribute to the advancement of the radio art". Clearly, many Radio Amateurs are actively engaged in advancing the radio art; new technology such as SDRs and the improvements made to more traditional transceivers are examples of work that has benefited all Radio Amateurs today. One could only imagine what tomorrow's Radio Amateur will develop!

While it's important to look forward to tomorrow, it's equally important to understand the evolution of radio equipment that was used on the Amateur Bands; from the earliest "spark days" to the dawn of digital technology. By delving into the past, one can learn to appreciate the hard work, determination and experimentation that brought us one step at a time, the technology we enjoy today.

Visitors to the ARRL Laboratory can now visit our new exhibit, "The ARRL Evolution of Amateur Radio Exhibit", featuring radio apparatus from the early 1900's to the 1980's, contained in it's own long, narrow display room; formally a storage room for obsolete test equipment and parts. In the Laboratory itself, visitors can see new technology, such as D-Star repeaters, an SDR HF transceiver, the ARRL Laboratory Screen Room and whatever the staff is cooking up on the benches. Many of us "old-timers" find comfort in the older technology. New hams sometime find out, "what's old is new". Many just want to see the "new stuff". At the ARRL Lab, you will find a balance of the old and the new. While we look forward to the future, we also have a deep appreciation for the past.

This exhibit was developed by Bob Allison, WB1GCM, ARRL Test Engineer, with the support of the Board of Directors and the help of staff members and volunteers. Our goal is to preserve ARRL and Amateur Radio History through the preservation of the Hardware side of our historical collection. Volunteers, along with Bob, are in the process of cataloging the collection of hardware, which is extensive. Only a small fraction of it can be shown at a once, with plans to rotate in fresh vintage pieces over time. There are three operating positions for vistiors to sit down at and operate, provided a valid Amateur License is presented.

Like the display of equipment, this page will be dynamic; expect updates and additions.

This exhibit is a work in progress and we are pleased to present you with a view of our exhibit.


Bob Allison, WB1GCM

Tour of the Exhibit


Bob Allison WB1GCM, gives a brief presentation of the exhibit

Other Links

Vintage Radio and Communications Museum of Connecticut

  • Located on 115 Pierson Lane in Windsor, CT, only 20 minutes north of ARRL Headquarters. Not just a radio museum, it features a large display of a variety of technical items from the early 1800's through to the early 1980's. Talk over antique telephones, hear Edison cylinder phonographs, watch scary Tesla Coils in action. This museum also has a working replica of a 1950 era radio studio. This self supporting museum is staffed entirely by volunteers.

Antique Wireless Association

New England Wireless and Steam Museum

K2TQN's Old Radio and Radio History Web-Site




Vintage Radio, November 2013 QST: K1TVF's Five Band, Fifty-Watter HF CW crystal controlled transmitter.

A classic construction article out of the pages of the 1968 Radio Amateur's Handbook.