CB radio A journey from 1970’s to 2016

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CB radio that we enjoy today is a result of an innovative idea that initiated in the U.S. in 1945. This device was meant to make the radio facility open to the general public over short ranges for two-way communication. In the initial phase, the FCC allowed only a limited number of UHF frequencies for this service. But this facility could not be implemented due to the limited technological facilities available during that period. It was also coming out to be quite expensive due to which the manufacturers had to stop the further production of that CB radio.

In 1958, the real Citizens Band came into being as the FCC allowed the 27 MHz band to have more of the frequencies to be used by the public. Now the users were allowed to access 23 channels over this frequency range. The manufacturers were able to produce these radios in a most-effective manner and these devices could now be operated in the AM mode.By 1970’s, the Citizens Band had reached its peak of fame because they had become very common for a localized two way communication among all the truckers for the purpose of general interaction as well as for the purpose of trade. It also was promoted very positively among the public because of some the of the most remarkable movies of Hollywood created during that time like The Gum Ball Rally, The Cannonball Run, Convoy, Smokey & The Bandit etc. TV also played a big role in this regard with one of its famous shows titled ‘The Dukes Of Hazard’.

The FCC first obligated all the users to operate this device with a proper ‘call sign’ for ease of identification over the network. But later the users, popularly known as the CB’ers, modified these call signs into a more easy-to-use form called the ‘CB Handles’. These handles were the formed originally by the trucker to camouflage their identity over the CB network for communicating with the other drivers to inform them about the possible traps that await them on the road. Then gradually the FCC added 17 channels to this band due to the increased demand of the users and its elevated popularity.

CB Radio Craze

The CB Radio Craze

By 1973, the oil crisis hit the market, resulting into a seriously decreased supply of the fuel and its raised price. To cope with this scenario, United States government had to impose a speed limit of 55MPH for all the drivers, including the truckers. This was the time when the CB radios began to be used more frequently because truckers felt the need of communicating with each other whenever they found the source of fuel somewhere.

Then followed a series of events that aroused more interest of CB radios among the public. These radios began to be used by the truck drivers to arrange for the convoys that were seen travelling on the highways. Then these radios were used frequently for arranging the protest of truckers against the high fuel prices. In these strikes, trucks intentionally occupied the lanes on the highway for a very long time. CB Radios proved very beneficial in this regard. Then they served as the key factor of attention in the movies of that era too. Many songs were dedicated just for the praise of the new innovative device called the CB radio.

During the same period, some British users attempted to access the American CB radios and operated them against the law.  The British government made it clear to their public that CB radios were not the part of their culture and therefore would never be given a legal status in the kingdom. But after seeing a strong urge of the public for such a facility, the government introduced something similar over the 860 Mhz frequency range with the name of “open channel”. But it also failed to please the public as they were highly impressed by the services available with a CB radio. Finally the British government allowed for the usage of American CB radios and Al Gross was the first one to take the initiative of making the very first CB radio of the Great Britain right from the Trafalgar Square in London. Afterwards, the UK government became very generous and allowed the users to enjoy up to 80 CB radio channels through this device.

CB’s Seeing fewer Citizens

CBs Seeing Less Citizens

CB radios have pretty much lost their fame that was prevalent in the U.S. society during the 1970s. During that era, young and old both were equally excited about using the CB and the airwaves were always noisy with so many users chatting here and there all the time on different channels. Almost everyone had a CB radio then as a must. But gradually people have started shifting to the other means of communication due to the frequent availability and ease of use.Now there are only a few CB channels during limited time of the day when people actually talk through their CBs.

The use of these radios, however, is still alive due to the truckers who consider it the most professional way of talking to the other truckers regarding the minute lane closures or theconditions of the traffic around. But for personal communication, even truckers have switched to cellphones largely. They are getting advanced in their conduct and attitude towards technology. They are frequently found on various social media sites too.

CB Radio use in Modern Era

CB Radio use in Modern Era

Nowadays people have their lives revolving around the smartphones, instant messaging and ease of accessing the internet. In such a scenarios, CB radios might sound outdated and often cumbersome to most of the users due to their traditional way of operation. But somehow, CB’s are not extinct because the truckers still find them useful and they make the manufacturer continue producing radios at a steady pace.
In fact, some truckers prefer CB radios over the modern means of communication for many good reasons. These radios make it easy for these guys to communicate with the other truckers while driving and crossing the same road. This is a very useful way of some real time communication. It also facilitates the drivers to inform the truck stops that the trucks want to rest at the fuel bay or for scaling. It is somehow important for the truckers to have the CB radios installed in their trucks. It also helps the truckers during emergencies as they have special channel called the channel 9 that instantly connects them to the highway patrol agencies.

Modern Communication Tools


Satellite Communication

A trucking companiesare nowadays enhancing their communication system by enabling the interaction between the employees and the dispatcher through a formal satellite system. This system will make a keyboard and a dashboard available to the truckers inside their vehicles for staying informed of all the latest happenings and information around them. 

Cellular Phone 

Majority of the truckers now have their own cellphones with them. This is considered as an instant way through which the company can get in touch with the employees for conveying quick messages. Recently the facility of text messaging is being availed as a cost efficient means of getting updates. But this facility is prohibited while the driver is controlling the vehicle on the road. Due to the increasing number of accidents being caused due to the use of a cellphone while driving, this facility is being banned in some states.

Wireless Internet 

Internet is emerging as a popular trend in the trucking industry. Emails and online communication is a matter of common observation. Truckers have their own laptops that have WiFi access allowed. This facility has further made their communication and database management easy and convenient.

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5 thoughts on “CB radio A journey from 1970’s to 2016

  1. Derek Bruff, (Instructional Developer, Educational Technologist, Mathematics Educator)

    I don't know about first, but sometimes when I tweet a question hoping for an immediate response from someone in my network, I'm reminded of those scenes in The Dukes of Hazzard when one of the Duke boys would turn on the CB radio and say, “This is Lost Sheep, anyone got their ears on?”

  2. Aki Soga (Journalist)

    would think HAM radio predates CBs, and those guys really are a community. And read the way people used to write letters 100, 200 years ago. People within a profession or with common interests would “network” writing to people they've never met based on introductions or reputation.


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