A few nights ago as I crawled into bed after a very long day my mind turned to all the New England Division Conventions that I have had the privilege to attend over the years. It was like a montage spanning almost 60 years of radio. My first convention was at the New Ocean House in Swampscott. I think it was 1964. I was still a young teen without a driver’s license.
Ham radio was young, too, barely 50 years old. My dad drove me and a friend to the show and we spent the day marveling at all the technological wonders. Radios were made with hollow state devices, transistors were the new technology, and there were old timers who could talk about the days of spark. Things sure have changed. The ride has been, and continues to be, fun and exciting.
The conventions themselves have changed, too. I remember there were talks and forums like “Getting Started with Single Sideband” and “Cleaning up Chirp on your CW Signal.” Now we talk about mesh networks and about all the latest digital modes. Other things have changed as well. Old stalwarts such as the QSL card contest have succumbed to the technology of Logbook of the World, and the Wouff Hong has drifted out of fashion.
Change has come as well to the fabric of our conventions. The nature of the Special Event station has changed with the advent of remote operation. The rise of online presence has changed the way we gather information and the way that radios are sold, and thus the nature and the mix of commercial vendors so that now the concentration is on small and innovative new companies. In fact, this year we will be trying our first vendor remote presence. This could change the way we work.
But, of course, one important fundamental of our convention hasn’t changed. The show is, and I hope always will be, a social gathering. A chance for hams to meet up, face to face, to renew old friendships, to make new ones, and follow the progress of the hobby that ties us all together as we march further into the 21st century. Enjoy !!