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[aprssig] APRS History

Bob Bruninga bruninga at usna.edu
Fri Nov 18 21:21:41 UTC 2011

Thumbing through a handy 1986 ARRL handbook looking for LC filters, I
stumbled on the "history" section of Packet Radio and took a trip down
memory lane.

By 1986 Packet radio had grown from 300 in 1984 to 3900 in 1986.

Packet began in 1978 when the Canadians authorized digital modes and VE7APU
designed the VADCG TNC.  My "Multi-User Data Network" (RTTY) was on the air
then and on the day the FCC made packet legal, we (the AMRAD group) were on
the air in the DC area in May, 1981.  By October 1982 the DIGIpeater field
was added to the AX.25 protocol and finalized by AMRAD.  

By 1984, my first HF-to-VHF dual-port gateway was on the air providing
worldwide connectivity into the DC area on 10.151 LSB using a VIC-20
computer.  To this day, 27 years later, that remains the APRS frequency.
Although APRS was not named until a paper at the 1992 ARRL/TAPR DCC, it was
first documented in July 1986 in the Packet Radio magazine as the
Connectionless Emergency Traffic System (CETS) for  AMRAD's tracking of
Horses on a 100 mile endurance run and for reporting casualties for the
National Disaster Medical System exercises.

Out of curiosity, I found 4 of the original 27 calls identified in that 1986
handbook chapter as showing on APRS now in Nov 2011.  WB4APR, WA0JS-2 (an
IRLP repeater), W0RPK-63 showing as a balloon, and N0AN with 8 SSID's!  The
others are either silent keys, moved on to other things, or changed calls.

Just some history.
Did I miss any callsigns from back then that are still on APRS?


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