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Two Way Radios: A Brief yet Colorful History

What is a radio? Who invented it? Who developed it to be the reliable device we now use today? Epistemologically speaking, the word “radio” is originally the shortened version of “radiotelegraphy”. It came from the Latin word radius meaning, “beam of light”. The origins of this device started during the 1900s when the world saw the use of the first wireless communication device. It enabled people from long distances to send and receive messages in a manner never seen before. Ten years after, only commercial and military ships are equipped with two-way communication devices. Soon after, the need for ordinary people to use a portable communication device seemed to grow. They need to do it quickly and comfortably, but the limitations in technology prevented them from doing so. Things started to change by 1923 where an Australian named Frederick W. Downie, a Senior Constable at a Victoria Police, was considered the first to use, what we call today, the two-way radios. Due to inconsistencies in using public telephone booths, Downie created a solution to equip cars with portable communication devices. The birth of the first mobile radio was born, enabling policemen to coordinate with fellow officers and send police reports to their headquarters. Though the first radios can fit the whole back seat of a car. Soon, other pioneers of two-way radios were credited for their contributions. In North America, a Canadian named Donald Hingins invented the first walkie-talkie in 1937. Though there are arguments that Alfred Gross, also a Canadian patented the two way radio technology in 1938. Despite the debate, World War II is an unlikely event that forced manufacturers to improve the bulky two way radios. An American company that manufactures a famous telephone brand was responsible for this. Due to an immediate demand from the U.S. Military, they created a 35-pound backpack radio that has a range of 10 or more miles. This innovation helped turn the tide of war, enabling victories for the allies in different battlefields. The destructive war was not only the driving force for speeding up the demand of an effective two way radio. The 1950s saw the introduction of other by-products to radios, like the personal pagers that replaced the public address system. The latter was used in large public areas, like hospitals, while personal pagers were for individual use.


The improvements in technology made it possible for improving the worldwide communication. Other devices like the common mobile phone made it possible to talk to someone anywhere on the globe. Indeed, the advances in telecommunications made it possible for inventors to create more innovative devices. As our world evolve, so as technology. The simple two way radio of yesterday is now a pocket multifunction phone. Who knows what is in store in the future? Today, modern two way radios are used by policemen, security personnel, and even ordinary people for their business. We owe the convenience of communicating to the early radio pioneers. Because of their ingenuity, we can now talk to someone easily.


Two Way Radios: A Brief yet Colorful History