75 Years ago in Ham Radio, by John Dilks, K2TQN

Transatlantic Amateur Communication Accomplished!

1MO and 1XAM Work French 8AB, One Hundred Meters Does the Trick

   This was the headline in the January 1924 QST that every ham radio operator was waiting for. For several years the ARRL membership had dreamed of this. Up to this point only very powerful commercial stations were able to hold two-way communications across the Atlantic. It was November 27th, 1923.

   Earlier in the year, Leon Deloy, French station 8AB, visited the ARRL convention in Chicago and announced he was going to try to work the Americans this winter. Returning home, Deloy applied the knowledge he collected on his visit and built a short-wave transmitter. He cabled F. Schnell, 1MO, at ARRL headquarters that he would start sending on 100 meters from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. starting Nov. 25th. Word spread fast and many stations were listening. Schnell built a special short wave tuner and was ready. At 9 p.m. sharp Deloy was copied from the first word.

   The next night, Nov. 26th, Deloy again transmitted and was advised by cable that he was QRK. He sent two messages, which were also copied by 1QP. One of these, the first amateur message ever sent from France:

Nice, France
Want this first transatlantic message to convey most hearty greetings of French to American amateurs.

Leon Deloy

Schnell's QSL card from the same month and year. Right click to enlarge.

   The second message made a further schedule and proposed listening for a reply on the same wave [frequency.] Meanwhile 1MO received permission from the ‘Supervisor of Radio’ to test on short wave and on the following night of Nov. 27th was ready.

   Deloy came on at 9:30 and for one hour called and sent two more messages. Signing off, he asked for a QSL. 1MO gave him a long call on 110 meters and European and American amateurs were working each other for the first time. Deloy came right back! It brought the thrill of a lifetime. Congratulatory messages were then sent to each other and several other amateurs there and other American stations also made contact.

   Of course there is much more to this story, and you can read it in its entirety in the January 1924 QST magazine. I will be happy to supply a photocopy if you supply an SASE business size envelope.

75 years later – to the day, you can hear a great historic transmitter!

   This month the Antique Wireless Association celebrates the 75th anniversary of the first transatlantic QSO. Left, Museum curator Ed Gable, K2MP, stands behind a Reinartz three-tube receiver while on the right Bob Raide, W2ZM, shows off a replica of 1MO's transmitter with four 203 tubes. You can listen to the replica transmitter on 80 meters, from the AWA Museum station W2AN in up-state New York.  On Friday Nov. 27, 1998 at 2300 UTC, on or about 3.525MHz. W2AN will be "working" amateur radio stations. Listen again on Nov. 28th., same time, same frequency.

  [Note: Use your receiver’s wide filter, as this transmitter is a free running oscillator. It will be moving around somewhat.] Ed.

   Places to see more about this on the web:

    Click here to visit other web pages for more information and interesting links.

    Click here to see photos of the original stations in 1923.

John H. Dilks, K2TQN
125 Warf Road
Egg Harbor Twp, NJ 08234-8501
Email oldradio@worldnet.att.net