Amateur Radio Magazine 1933 - 1939 Now Available On CD
Our Radio History
Will McGhie - VK6UU
After taking on the position of WIA National Historian I quickly discovered that even though much had been done by many over decades, our Amateur Radio history was all over the place. So much of the valuable work done by past WIA historians, and a large collection gathered, there was no close to end result. Accessing what ever we had was not easy or even possible and most important we did not know what we had. Several books have been written about the WIA and Amateur Radio in Australia by various authors. Some are local amateur radio history such as Alan Shawsmith’s, “Halcyon Days” and what has become know as “The Green Book” by a past WIA Historian Max Hull (SK). There are others but what was of my prime concern was what items did the WIA hold after decades of collection? Some progress has been made on this but there is a long way to go and being in VK6 I did not have easy access to what was held and have to rely on others to do some initial investigation and sorting. We have now available the most valuable means of cataloguing and displaying what historical items the WIA hold and that being the Internet. Documents, photographs and text descriptions can now easily be “contained” on the Internet and hopefully the WIA’s historical collection one day will be easily accessed by all.
The scanning project
However wanting to do something right now, my interest was in “Amateur Radio Magazine”. Scanning the oldest magazines so they would now be in the most versatile medium, digital, offered a great way to do something of value. So over two years ago a project to scan Amateur Radio Magazine began, beginning with the first edition printed in October 1933. There had been other magazines but this was the first attempt at a National publication that has lasted to today. The first difficulty was to source the magazines. Copies are held at some libraries but they are difficult to find and sometimes the copies are on microfishe and not suitable to scan. Eventually an almost complete collection, from October 1933 to December 1939, except for July 1938, was found. The National WIA had the collection along with the World War 2 years and beyond. The missing July 1938 was eventually sourced from the VK3 division. There are however still several missing of 1940 and all of 1946 and 1947. If you have any of these Amateur Radio Magazines please let me know, as this would almost complete the collection. The National WIA decided to appoint a project manager to the project and Board member Trevor Quick, VK5ATQ took on the position. One other amateur volunteered to start scanning and he is David Fisk VK5MDF who is scanning 1980s ARs.
The first decision was to decide on the scanning format. It was decided to scan the magazines at 300dpi and save them in un-compressed tif format. As the only colour in these early magazines was the front cover and some advertisements only these pages are scanned in colour, all others were scanned in gray scale. The files size of a single page is around 4MB which is high but offers the best quality with no degrading of the scan with repeated saves during the computer enhancement phase. The magazine release on the CD is a resized down (less pixels) and they are saved in jpg format offering a file size of under 300K per page.
Amateur Radio Magazine was half the physical size of today’s publication and averaged over 30 pages, with a single colour front cover. Scanning is a labor intensive, repetitive process. Scanning 1933 to 1939 is doing the same process 2,400 times! Computer enhancement does produce a near perfect result, but this also is very time consuming, but worth the effort. Most of the 1933 to 1939 magazines have been computer enhanced. Updates will be available as more of the 1933 to 1939 magazines are computer enhanced.
Computer enhancement offers the ability to improve the quality of the scanned magazine. The sourced AR magazines are of medium to good quality, considering their age (70 years give or take). The paper has gone a bit brown yellow and there is some rusted staple damage. The magazines were scanned in gray scale except where there was colour, such as the front page. The colour was only a single colour. By scanning in gray scale the file size is lower. The original scans were done at 300dpi and saved as uncompressed tiff graphic files which offers a very high quality scan. The magazine files on the CD have been down sized by 50% (made smaller) and saved as low compression (good quality) jpg’s and then converted to pdf format.
What is done
Computer enhancement is in several stages. The first is to produce a scan that is squared up. When you scan a document, particularly in a magazine, getting the page square, meaning the text is horizontal etc, is not easy and requires the computer to square up the page. Next is to crop the page, as you have to slightly over-scan the page. Finally the page’s canvas size is done. This is the “physical” size of the page so all pages are the same size as the previous operations do produce slightly different page sizes. This is the basic stage one but no computer text enhancement has been done. The second stage is where the text contrast is improved by changing the paper back ground to white. Old magazines scan with a gray back ground. This contrast improvement can be taken further by blackening the text from its gray or dark gray to black. Next any page defects like rusted staple marks, punched holes, torn pages and even missing or badly damaged text is repaired. What is produced with careful work is a better than the original magazine look.
How far should computer enhancement go? Should it include removing defects other than age related defects? Defects such as those that are a result of the printing process used at the time for example. Some of the letters used for many years had their own defects. Also blocks of text often were not square on the page, and even complete pages. It is easy to correct this but is not as the original was. The amateurs who produced AR magazine could not have know in any way how computers make the printing and restoration process so easy. It would have been true disbelief that such wonders came about. There is an article in the 1933 to 1939 collection predicting what amateur radio would be like at about our time. What was not known of course was the advent of transistors and integrated circuits that would miniaturize radios to the point of “impossible”. The future, as predicted still revolved around valve technology.
The magazine was forced to change to a much cheaper and poorer quality from 1941 to 1945. Advertisers withdrew support, believing, as most amateurs were serving in the forces, they would not be able to receive their magazine. During this time the magazine increased in physical size to today’s size.
Any other magazines?
If you have any amateur magazines, particularly the earlier ones please let us know. Several of 1940 are missing and the complete 1946 & 1947 years. We are lucky to live in a time when digital copies and the Internet make sharing our history easy. This series (1933 to 1939) have not all been fully computer enhanced but updates will be available in the future.
Ordering Your Copy Today
A free sample of the October 1933 issue of AR is available below for you to download.
A complete CD containing October 1933 to 1939 can be purchased from the WIA online bookshop for $30.
Simply Click the Following Link to go directly to the online order page.
0429 101 987
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