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CB Radio History – The CB Radio Craze of the 1970s (Part 2)

Walkie talkie inventor Al Gross decided to design the Citizen Band (CB) radio due to a decision by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). After World War Two, the FCC decided to open 23 frequencies between 26 MHz and 28 MHz for personal use. The first CB Radios were used by the military and blue-collar workers for daily wireless communication. It wasn’t into the early 1960s that their price was low enough for purchase by normal consumers.

An Increase in Popularity

By the end of the 60s, thanks to advancements in solid-state electronics and a reduction of cost, the popularity of CB radios increased. Clubs were formed around the radios. Soon enough, a language of slang and codes arose that not only became the standard for CB radio communication but also began to seep into everyday culture.

The Oil Crisis

Then came the oil crisis of 1973 when OPEC enacted an oil embargo on countries that supported Israel during the Yom Kippur War. From October of 1973 to March of 1974, the U.S. faced fuel shortages, gas station closures, and a mandatory reduction of national highway speeds to 55 m.p.h.

Drivers, especially those that transportation goods across the country in semis and other vehicles, discovered that CBs could be used to inform others about open gas stations on their route. They were also a good source to learn where the police, designated with the handle Smokey, had setup speed traps.

To protest higher gas prices and speed regulations due to the embargo, truck drivers used their DB Radios to organize moving blockades. These were comprised of numerous big rigs that would fill all available highway lanes.

Post-Crisis Changes

CBs continued to remain popular long after the oil embargo ended. Due to the increased traffic, the FCC opened additional channels in 1977, increasing the number to today’s total of 40. Their popularity also began to encroach the pop culture world and caused an explosion in the CB Radio market...

Stay tuned next month as we continue our History of the CB Radio series.

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