A ham radio transceiver is an electronics unit capable of both transmitting and receiving audio communication. The essential factor that makes the technology unique is the fact that the same circuitry is used to perform both the sending and receiving of audio. As a communications device, it is primarily used to convey sound without wires along frequencies available worldwide.
Other forms of communications technology generally use both a transmitter and receiver to operate. This means that the duties of sending and acquiring audio frequencies are done by separate units within a device. An example of this is a radio tower broadcasting a station's music to a car stereo. Since a ham radio transceiver has both the abilities within the same unit, it acts more like a walkie-talkie.
One of the major drawbacks to ham radio equipment is the fact that it cannot do both functions of sending and receiving at the same time. Users must use a microphone to capture audio and send it via radio waves to another transceiver. The user must then stop transmitting in order to receive a signal. Generally this is accomplished by pressing a button on the machine to signify a desire to transmit rather than acquire audio. A ham radio transceiver is always set to receive unless the user performs this action.
In order to communicate through a ham radio, users on both sides of the station must be set to the same frequency. This enables people to have a conversation or send signals to each other without interfering with other users on different channels. There are thousands of available ham radio frequencies in use around the world, making it possible to communicate with people anywhere on the planet as long as the range of the ham radio antenna is strong enough.
Traditionally, ham radio equipment is primarily used by hobbyists and amateur radio operators, but the technology also can be utilized in emergency situations to supplement official channels. Many of those using a ham radio transceiver are relegated to the amateur radio world where people simply communicate with each other and focus on studying electronics and radio technology in general.
The first use of a ham radio transceiver dates back to the late 1800s among early inventors. What people use today, however, did not develop until the early 1900s when dozens of wireless radio stations began broadcasting. The technology was used throughout World War II as thousands of soldiers around the world were trained on the use of ham radio equipment. In the postwar world, these people became hobbyists supporting the sale of ham radio supplies as a pastime. By the late 20th and early 21st century, ham radio operators around the world were building their own equipment and communicating with each other from makeshift stations.