Happy Birthday, Hiram!
This week, the League celebrates the 140th anniversary of the birth of ARRL’s co-founder and first President, Hiram Percy Maxim, W1AW! Maxim — born September 2, 1869 — decided a national organization for Amateur Radio was in order after he needed a “relay” station in Agawam, Massachusetts to pass a message he was sending from Hartford to Springfield, Massachusetts. In honor of The Old Man’s (TOM) birthday, the ARRL is holding a, where eligible amateurs may add /140 to their call signs. A complete list of who may add /140 can be found on page 20 of the September 2009 issue of QST. Hams who work at least 25 /140 stations can earn an attractive certificate; this certificate can be endorsed in increments of 25 QSOs, up to 100.
Maxim was no stranger to technology. He entered the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Class of 1886) and graduated at the tender age of 16. Through the activities of his son Hiram Hamilton Maxim, TOM became interested in Amateur Radio. In 1908, he filed for a patent for a firearms silencer; the patent was granted the following year. Maxim used this technology to make silencers for guns, motor exhausts, safety valves and air releases. In all, Maxim received 59 patents, most of them in the field of mechanical engineering.
In 1928, Maxim, along with other dignitaries of the day — including Thomas Edison — attended a party at the home of George Eastman, the founder of Kodak. TOM was an avid film buff and was even involved in the early days of motion pictures. Check out this video (available on YouTube) of a dapper Maxim at Eastman’s party.
“I hope everyone enjoys our Special Event honoring Hiram Percy Maxim,” said ARRL Chief Executive Officer David Sumner, K1ZZ. “I know if TOM was alive today, he would be on the air, having a ball!” Maxim, together with Clarence Tuska, founded the ARRL in 1914. Maxim served as President of the ARRL from its inception until his death from complications stemming from a throat infection in 1936. — Thanks to Howie Lash, AE0KU, for bringing the YouTube clip to our attention