ARRL Centennial QSO Party

Posted on January 5, 2014


2014 marks the centennial anniversary of the foremost amateur radio organization in the world – the American Radio Relay League (ARRL).

The league officially formed in 1914 during the infancy of radio transmission technology, which shows how crucial amateur radio was to the development, advancement and distribution of the technologies that have become so ubiquitous in our lives today.


Hiram Percy Maxim, a mechanical engineer and radio hobbyist co-founded the organization with Clarence Tuska. Maxim was the founding president until 1936 and the club station at ARRL headquarters in Newington, Connecticut, still uses his callsign – W1AW.

The league was involved in many activities, including education and the publication of information for radio amateurs. The leagues flagship publication has always been, and continues to be “The Radio Amateurs Handbook,” or simply, the “Handbook.”

I have a copy published by the league in 1977. At that time, the price was $7.50 but according to the thrift store price marked on the inside cover, I received a $7 discount off the cover price. I bought my copy used for $0.50 in the mid to late eighty’s and it’s been consistently in my radio reference library since.


“The American Radio Relay League has been and is today not only the spokesman for amateur radio in the U.S. and Canada but the largest amateur organization in the world,” the Handbook says in its opening chapter. “It is strictly of, by and for amateurs…”

“The league is pledged to promote interest in two-way amateur communication and experimentation. It is interested in the relaying of messages by amateur radio. It is concerned with the advancement of the radio art. It stands for the maintenance of fraternalism and a high standard of conduct.”

They’ve done well over the past 100 years. No doubt every country has a national amateur radio organization that has been important to the citizens of those nations, but its difficult to find one whose resources and coordination have matched that of the ARRL. And for that I say congratulations to every ARRL member station, and a huge thank-you for all the help, inspiration and leadership the ARRL has provided to the global amateur radio community.

To celebrate its centennial, the ARRL is hosting a year long “QSO Party.” Not an official contest, the QSO party is designed to celebrate the 100 years accomplishments by promoting on-air activities with ARRL leadership, executive, national and regional managers as well as the grassroots members who comprise this organization.

There are several on-air activities taking place over the next year:

1. The ARRL headquarters station, W1AW has been granted the special event call sign W100AW and will be issuing special QSL cards for contacts during the year.

2. The ARRL will be operating portable stations in all states giving amateurs the opportunity to earn a “Worked All States” award with the added bonus of working W1AW from all states.

3. A points accumulation contest that will be endorsed by special certificates issued by the ARRL to interested participants.

Here is audio from W1AW/4 in North Carolina working Single Side Band (SSB) on the 40 meter band as part of the celebration: