Why Is Ham Radio Called Ham Radio?

So, why is Amateur Radio called ham radio? It appears that the term originated with Telegraph Operators who referred to unskilled operators as "hams", presumably because they were considered "ham-fisted" (or "ham-handed"). When radio first became available to the general population many of the first radio ("wireless telegraph") operators were former telegraph operators and it became the norm for both amateurs and professionals to refer to amateur operators who accidentally interfered with other broadcasts as "hams" and eventually the term was adopted by the amateur radio community as the term for "amateur" radio.

The Alphabet Peg

This is a type of Mnemonic Peg System that helps you memorize lists using a pre-built Peg List based on the alphabet. It doesn't have to be the alphabet, it can be any ordered list of words that you already have memorized.

First you created a list of words wherein the first letter of each word matches the letters of the alphabet - Ape, Bat, Crane, etc. Now whenever you need to memorize a list you associate each item on the list with a word in the alphabet list in order. So if you need to memorize a loaf of bread, a container of milk, and a stick of butter you would do something like this:

Abecadarium List Link
Ape Loaf of Bread King Kong climbing the Empire State Building holding a loaf of bread
Bat Container of Milk Supermarket milk jug with a bat in it
Crane Stick of Butter A crane choking on a giant stick of butter

Once you've made the associations you can remember the list by starting with Ape and working through the alphabet.

You can also draw the alphabet and use links between them when memorizing the list (e.g. King Kong throws the loaf of bread at the milk jug with a bat in it).

Binary Number Memorization Systems



An introduction to several systems for memorizing binary numbers (or things that can be encoded as binary numbers).

Quick Systems

These are quicker to learn but might not scale well.

  • The 8-Letter Method
  • Gary Lanier's Binary Method

Complex Systems

These require more effort to learn but work for longer methods

  • Number Conversion Systems
  • Binary Grids
  • Ben System