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Contesting Online Forums : Tips : 1st contest ever? Forums Help

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1st contest ever? Reply
by ae9b on November 20, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Wonder when the 1st documented Amateur radio contest happened? Any other resources for history of contesting?
RE: 1st contest ever? Reply
by kr6x on December 14, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Two particular events come to mind for me. But first I digress onto the subject of DX Contests.

I have to assume that we eliminate from consideration the race to the first QSO won by Marconi, and the race to the first one way transmission also won by Marconi (of course there could be some arguement on this one). The first transatlantic transmission and the first transatlantic QSO also belongs to Marconi. Let's call thesse "DX Contest" victories.

OK, so you don't want to call these "DX Contests". I assumed that. Within early amateur radio the competition for the record of greatest distance transmitted, heard, or contacted was a constant theme. But perhaps the first grand operating event that was a published challenge with a well-defined operating would have to be the "Transatlantic Tests" (see "200 Meters and Down" by Desoto). Alas, the "Transatlantic Tests" were not performed for the purposes of making two-way contacts, so it could be argued that recognition of the first contest must go either to some smaller event that preceeded it or to some subsequent event. Still, I vote for the Transatlantic Tests as the first great DX contest event.

The race to the first Transatlantic QSO followed the Transatlantic Tests -- or could be said to be underway both before them and concluded after them. This race also responded to published challenges.

The race to the first DX Century Club award really gets my vote as the progenetor of modern DX contesting. The first Worldwide DX Contest was really an attempt by Radio Magazine (which later became CQ Magazine) to recapture the excitement of the race to the first DXCC Award. These early contests were extremely long events by today's standards.

OK, so it doesn't have to be DX to be a contest. Well, in the early days of ham radio DX really was the contest. But other kinds of competitions existed. Very early in the history of Amateur Radio a number of long distance relay challenges took the headlines. The excitement of this kind of race gave birth to the ARRL, and the National Traffic System, which was the progenitor of the modern SS contest. These team competions were big events! Usually held in honor of incoming presidents, they were races to relay messages across the country and back in competition with the clock. Some of these contests predated any of the DX contest type activities. Alas, the earliest of them were events that only became contests on the date of the following event when a new team tried to beat the time record set the last time.

OK, well my vote really goes to the Transatlantic Tests in lieu of the coast to coast relays, but these were not unequivocably contests. Unlike Marconi's victories, however, amateur radio callsigns were being sent in these events, and they were being organized and announced in ham radio magazines of the time and involved building capable stations combined with superior operating skills in order to reach the top spots.

And, the early competition for DXCC involved the exchange of QSL cards for score keeping. I personally don't believe that this disqualifies the DXCC as a contest. The first race to DXCC did generate extremely intense excitement over the course of many months. It was like a contest that you could read about in the magazine coverage while it was happening and watch the neck-and-neck competitors crossing the finish line.

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