Saturday, March 22, 2014

Wireless Internet...1958 Style

Citizen's Band radio was opened in the US (ironically?) on 11 September 1958. CB radios operate on 40 channels within the 27-MHz (11 m) band and, much like current internet-based communication, channels are shared by multiple users. Of course, as you can tell by the photo, instructions for CB use were not limited to print manuals. Tech savvy CB users could drop the needle on an LP and learn everything from radio checks to 10-codes. I do wonder if the exchange on the album cover goes like, "Honey, do you want me to pick up anything from the supermarket?" or like, "Tony, my husband's out of town, come on over." (Also, I'm not sure if the fact that my kitchen looks exactly like hers means I'm trendy or sad.)
CB really developed its subversive persona in the US after the 1973 government mandated 55 mph speed limit. CB radio was used to notify other drivers of speed traps, and to organize blockades and convoys. In 1974, "River Rat" started a blockade on I-80 in PA that spread across the country by CB relay.

Apart from blocking highway traffic, another useful aspect of CB radio is "working skip". Frequencies between 3–30 MHz can be refracted by the ionosphere at night; called sky wave propagation or skip, operators can signal across thousands of miles and sometimes around the world.

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