Obtaining an Amateur Radio license issued by the Federal Communications Commission requires the passing of a written examination on regulations, operating practices, electronics theory, antenna propagation, and safety. Amateur radio or "ham" operators provide emergency and public service communications on a volunteer, uncompensated basis.
Amateur Radio is an avocation, which is intended by the Federal Communications Commission to encourage and promote technical self-training, international goodwill, non-commercial communication service (particularly with respect to emergency communications), advancement of radio technology, and expansion of the existing reservoir of trained operators, technicians, and electronics experts.
Amateur Radio operators are responsible for many advances in electronics, antenna design, and general telecommunications technology over the past 100 years. There are approximately 680,000 licensed Amateur Radio operators in the United States.
Amateur Radio is simply a hobby, chosen by anyone interested in radio and electronics.
After Marconi successfully transmitted the first practical "wireless" radio message in 1896, the United States government issued the first amateur radio license in 1912 under the Radio Act of 1912. The Federal Communications Commission was formed in 1934.