The Radio Handbook

Another radio handbook has joined the collection, but not an ARRL handbook this time.

This one comes to me courtesy of a local ham friend who’s been downsizing a bit. A very nice gesture for which I’m very grateful.

The Radio Handbook (14th ed), edited by William Orr/W6SAI and published in 1956 by Editors and Engineers Ltd. It’s a well used copy and the spine is not in the greatest shape. It’s come unglued from the book and is quite literally hanging on by the threads of the cloth covering. I’ll have to see if I can do something about that. The rest of the book seems in reasonable shape for a 66 year old book.

I haven’t gone through a lot of the book yet but based on the table of contents, it seems to cover many of the same topics the ARRL handbooks cover.

It might be an interesting and fun exercise to compare this edition of the Radio Handbook with the 1956 ARRL Handbook.

A 1985 ARRL Handbook

In this year’s ARRL Auction, I managed to score a 1985 ARRL Handbook to add to the collection.

Front cover of the 1985 ARRL Handbook

It’s in pretty decent condition, although the binding is broken in about the middle of the handbook. Going to have to see if there’s a good way to patch or fix that.

This handbook probably would have first gone on sale in late 1984, so I would have been in the middle of my first year of high school when this handbook came out. Even as late as 1985, there’s still a pretty big section devoted to vacuum tubes and vacuum tube gear. Aside from an old broken radio that was in our basement, I don’t think I had encountered any electronics that used vacuum tubes back then (well, televisions perhaps, but those are a different kind of vacuum tube).

The table of contents covers radio topics you might expect for radio technology from 37 years ago.

1985 ARRL Handbook table of contents

Interestingly enough, there seems to be more on vacuum tubes in the 1985 Handbook than there is in the 1980 Handbook. At some point between the 1980 and 1985 Handbooks, the Handbooks gained a considerable amount of weightpages.

Size comparison between the 1980 and 1985 ARRL Handbooks

Might be interesting to go through the two and see what kind of content got expanded on with all the added pages.

A 2023 ARRL Handbook

With the 1926 1st edition ARRL Handbook bookending my collection at one end, I now have the 2023 100th edition ARRL Handbook to be a bookend at the other end of the collection.

Cover of the 2023 100th edition of the ARRL Handbook

It’s a pretty hefty tome, and like previous handbooks, stuffed full of pretty much everything a person needs to know about amateur radio.

The hardcover Handbook also gets you the electronic version of the Handbook as well (I was sent a link to download both the Mac/Linux and Windows versions), which includes a ton of supplemental content for each chapter, project PDFs, and some software as well. What I haven’t seen in the electronic version (yet) is the insert between pages 15.18 and 15.19 giving a look at the evolution of the Handbook over the decades.

Insert in the 2023 ARRL Handbook providing a look at the ARRL Handbook over the decades.

It’s a nice little review, starting with an interview with K1NKR and his collection of QSTs and Handbooks (sounds like he’s got all but two of the Handbooks…quite the impressive collection) and then highlighting changes in the Handbook by decade.

Looks pretty good on the shelf with the other Handbooks.

2023 100th edition handbook added to the ARRL Handbook collection

The Handbook Collection

With my recent ARRL Handbook acquisitions, I consider my collection pretty much complete now. I’ll add newer ones as time goes on and if someone is getting rid of older ones, I probably won’t turn them down. I feel like my collection covers the history of amateur radio from the ARRL Handbook perspective pretty well now.

My ARRL Handbook Collection starting with a 1926 1st edition Handbook on the left progressing to the 2014 ARRL Centennial edition Handbook
My ARRL Handbook Collection starting with a 1926 1st edition Handbook on the left progressing to the 2014 ARRL Centennial edition Handbook

From the left there’s the 1st edition 1926 ARRL Handbook, followed by 1927, 1931, 1944, 1950, 1956, 1963, 1970, 1971, 1974, 1979, 1980, 1993, 2005, 2012 (my very first handbook from when I first got my license), and finally the 2014 ARRL Centennial edition Handbook. The next one I end up purchasing will be the 100th edition 2023 Handbook.

I’m pretty happy with my collection. It’s a wealth of excellent reference material and project ideas.

A 1970 Handbook

While browsing the tables in the Swaps building at Hamcation, the distinctive blue colour of the 1970 ARRL Handbook caught my eye so I had to buy it. I’ve always thought it would be nice to have one from the year I was born so that I could see what amateur radio was like back then.

1970 ARRL Radio Amateur's Handbook
1970 ARRL Radio Amateur’s Handbook

I don’t think there’s much difference between the 1970 and 1971 Handbook that I already have, but it’s still a nice one to have.

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