5 Interesting Facts About Two-Way Radios

Two-way radios, walkie talkies, hand-helds: whatever you call them, the invention of these wireless communication devices was extremely important, and the technology is deeply integrated into our everyday lives. The ability to both transmit and receive information from a single device not connected by a wire helped lead communication technology to where it is today. Here are five interesting facts about two-way radios.

1. They’ve Been Around For Over 100 Years

Although the first mobile two way radio wasn’t developed until 1923 in Australia, wireless communication began in the late 1800s with the development of the wireless telegraph. These radios actually existed several years before “radio” was used as a standalone word in English, but they were only capable of communication through Morse Code.

2. Two-Way Radios Were The First Mobile Communication Devices

Radios were first installed on large commercial and military ships. As planes became more common, two-way radios became extremely useful for ground-to-air communication. Once the technology was small enough, these devices found a home on emergency vehicles like police cars and fire trucks, which allowed for rapid responses to emergency.

3. The First Walkie-Talkie Was The Size Of A Backpack

Designed to be used by soldiers, the first Walkie-Talkie had to be worn on your back. One soldier would wear it and another would operate it while standing behind him. What we would think of today as a “Walkie-Talkie” was actually called a “Handie-Talkie” back then. It was still bulky though (like a 1990s cellphone on steroids), and much less reliable than the backpack model.
4. Two-Way Radios Are Used To Communicate In Space

Since radio waves travel at the speed of light, they are the most efficient medium of communication in existence, especially over the vast distances of space. Besides communication between Houston and astronauts, two-way radios are used to upload and download data collected by satellites orbiting earth and rovers on the surface of Mars. Radio waves get weaker the further they get from Earth, so it’s not likely that lifeforms on distant planets could hear us.

5. Your Mobile Phone Is Technically A Two-Way Radio

Even your smartphone uses two way radio technology to communicate with other phones. Unlike walkie-talkies though, cell phones require satellites to communicate (as well as a paid phone plan). Cell phones also have the ability to both transmit and receive simultaneously. That’s because phones can operate on multiple frequencies at the same time.

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