View Full Version : The Golden Age of CB

11-07-2007, 12:19:13
Citizens' Band radio (CB) is, in most countries, a system of short-distance, simplex[1] radio communications between individuals on a selection of 40 channels within the 27 MHz (11 meter) band. The CB radio service should not be confused with FRS, GMRS, MURS, or amateur ("ham") radio. Similar personal radio services exist in other countries, with varying requirements for licensing and differing technical standards. In many countries, CB does not require a license and, unlike amateur radio, it may be used for commercial communication.


In the 1960s, the service was popular for small trade businesses (e.g., electricians, plumbers, carpenters) and transportation services (e.g., taxi and trucking firms). "10 codes" originally used in the public service (e.g., police, fire, ambulance) and land mobile service were used for short acknowledgments. With the advancement of solid state technology (transistors replacing tubes) in the 1970s, the weight, size, and cost of the radios decreased. US truckers were at the head of the boom. Many CB clubs were formed, and a special CB slang language evolved. The prominent use of CB radios in 1970s era films (see list below) such as Smokey and the Bandit (1977) and television shows like The Dukes of Hazzard (debuted 1979) bolstered the appeal of CB radio. Moreover, popular novelty songs such as C.W. McCall's "Convoy" (1976) helped establish CB radio as a nationwide craze in America from the mid-1970s to the early 1980s.

Originally, CB did require a license and the use of a call sign, but when the CB craze was at its peak, many people ignored this requirement and used made up nicknames or "handles". The use of handles instead of call signs is related to the common practice of using the radios to warn other drivers of speed traps during the time when the United States dropped the national speed limit to 55 mph (90 km/h) beginning in 1974 in response to the 1973 hike in oil prices. The FCC recommended the use of ten-codes and these were used, often in a shortened form, but also many slang terms were developed.

The low cost and simple operation of CB equipment gave access to a communications medium that was previously only available to specialists. The "boom" in CB usage in the 1970s and in Britain in the early 1980s bears several similarities to the advent of the Internet in the 1990s. The many restrictions on the authorized use of CB radio led to widespread disregard of the regulations, most notably in antenna height, distance restriction for communications, licensing and the use of call signs, and allowable transmitter power. Eventually, the license requirement was dropped entirely.

Originally, there were only 23 CB channels in the U.S.; 40-channel radios did not come along until 1977. Channel 9 was reserved for emergency use in 1969[5]. Channel 10 was used for highway communications, though channel 19 later became the preferred highway channel in most areas as it did not have adjacent-channel interference problems with channel 9.

Until 1975[6], only channels 9-14 and 23[7] could be used for "interstation" calls to other licensees. Channels 1-8 and 15-22 were reserved for "intrastation" communications among units under the same license.[8] After the interstation/intrastation rule was dropped, channel 11 was reserved as a calling frequency for the sole purpose of establishing communications; however this was withdrawn in 1977[9].

Until the late 1970s when synthesized radios appeared, CB radios were controlled by plug-in quartz crystals. Almost all were AM only, though there were a few single sideband sets in the early days.

Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, a phenomenon was developing over the CB radio. Similar to the Internet chat rooms a quarter century later, the CB allowed people to get to know one another in a quasi-anonymous manner. Many movies and stories about CBers and the culture on-the-air developed.

In Britain, some people were using CB radio illegally in the 1970s, a craze which suddenly peaked in 1980, leading to legalization on 2 November 1981. However, in the summer of 1981 the British government was still saying that CB would never be legalized on 27 MHz. The government wanted a UHF frequency around 860 MHz named 'Open Channel' instead. Eventually 40 channels at 27 MHz, plus 20 channels on 934 MHz were legalized. Both allocations used frequencies unique to the UK; the 934 MHz allocation was later withdrawn in 1998. CB's inventor Al Gross made the first legal British CB call from Trafalgar Square, London.

In more recent years, CB has lost much of its original appeal due to the advancement of technologies and changing values. Some of this rapid development includes: mobile phones, the Internet, and Family Radio Service. The changing radio wave propagation for long-distance communications, due to the 11 year Sunspot cycle, is always a factor for these frequencies

11-07-2007, 12:23:57
8 track tapes were popular, too.

C.G.B. Spender
11-07-2007, 12:28:04
Originally posted by Funko
CB's inventor Al GrossWasn't that Al Gore?

11-07-2007, 15:29:24
I just passed another Kojack with a Kodak, this place is crawling with bears, where the hell are you?

11-07-2007, 15:30:35
Can someone translate? I don't understand half this contemporary gay slang.

11-07-2007, 15:33:48
tell us about the half you do understand

11-07-2007, 15:35:47
this place is crawling with bears = Scabby and his friends are having a big night out.