The importance of 24-hour radio staffing and universally agreed-upon codes resulted from the Titanic tragedy.
It’s considered the night that “wireless came of age.” It became clear that this incredible invention wasn’t just useful for sending fluff messages from wealthy passengers back to their partying friends on shore (largely what the commercial forum was being used for the night Titanic sank), but was an essential device for maritime safety and, if used correctly, could save lives.
You can learn all about how HAM radio works and a succinct, fascinating history in this article by the American Radio Relay League.
A unique floating hotel, the Queen Mary had its maiden voyage in 1936 and its last great cruise in 1967 before eventually becoming an icon of the Long Beach waterfront.
It looks very much like the Titanic, and was built by the Cunard-White Star Line, a merger between Cunard and White Star Line – the latter of whom did build the Titanic.
Anyway, the coolest thing about the Queen Mary is The Nate Brightman Wireless Room.
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I'm often asked why, if we’re such an uber-modern satellite communications company, I make it such a priority for all of my employees to become HAM-radio certified – arranging coursework and tests, celebrating certifications, having fun with callsigns (I’m KK6GCU), and even paying out cash incentives.
What value could there be in learning an archaic system invented in the 1800s that can be enabled by a simple dipole antenna strung between two trees?
To digress a little – back to 1912 – April 15 marks the anniversary of the night a young man by the name of Artie Moore heard a faint distress call in Morse code – “CQD Titanic 41.44N 50.24W” – via a homemade amateur radio setup at his house in Wales; CQD means “come quickly distress,” and the messages were followed by more dire-sounding communications heard from 3,000 miles away by the youngster. Can not last much longer.” The poor, helpless lad was hearing messages from the radio operators of the “unsinkable” Titanic, the British passenger liner that hit an iceberg and sank on its maiden voyage on April 15, 1912, causing the death of 1,514 of its 2,224 passengers in one of the deadliest maritime disasters in history.
When he reported what he was hearing to local police, they didn’t believe him.
On the other end, Marconi men were involved in an unfortunate comedy of errors in radio communications that led to confusion and miscommunication regarding the severity of the situation and at the same time, eventually, the saving of those few remaining passengers who’d spent the night in lifeboats.