The History Of Walkie-Talkies And Two-Way Radios

Walkie-talkie history: backpack radio

At some point in every kid’s childhood, they have explored the many uses of a walkie-talkie and had a blast in doing so. When I say “kid”, what I really mean is anyone ages five to eighty-five really, as there is an endless list of uses for the device (child-play, hunting, work sites, communicating in no-cellular zones…etc.).

In this day and age, they are available to everyone in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and different colors. With that being said, the walkie-talkie was not always so accessible and widely renowned. In fact, there was a time when “walkie-talkies” were quite the scientific invention.

So who invented walkie-talkies?

The walkie-talkie is said to have been invented by Don Hings in 1937, take a look at this video at the end of this post for more about Don Hings and walkie-talkies.

By that same token, there were many “inventions” of the same product in that time period by different inventors, all of which use different methods simultaneously served the same purpose. Though it certainly did not go by that name at the time and was not as easily accessible as it is today, the walkie-talkie was and still is used for communication purposes.

The History Of Walkie-Talkies

Originally invented as the field radio for small-time pilots, the walkie-talkie was not truly recognized until World War II broke out in 1939. At that point, it was redeveloped for soldiers to utilize in battle.

During this period, the walkie-talkie weighed around five pounds, was about seventeen inches in height, and for the most part, it was made entirely of metal.

This description does not quite fit the walkie-talkie you see kids running around with today, but then again at that time they were not marketed as children’s toys.

Over the years, the walkie-talkie has slowly evolved from a portable radio to a practical handheld device. It was not until the 1970’s and 80’s that they became more and more popular in everyday society. Cell phones too in that time were being marketed for public uses, and I would say hand in hand they have improved and become more accessible ever since.

Through a span of about eighty years, the walkie-talkie has developed alongside the latest of technologies. As technology has developed, so has the walkie-talkie, and so it will continue to in the years to come. Who knows what the future holds for the walkie-talkie!

Other resources on the history of walkie-talkies

The Wikipedia page on walkie-talkies is a great resource that covers the history of walkie-talkies and two-way radios in depth.

And here is a nice video of Discovery HD about Donald Hings  and walkie-talkie history:

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About the Author

Brian Wallace decided to put his fascination with radio devices to good use and started, hoping that his knowledge on the topic will be helpful to others.