What times? What changing?? Let me explain. The "times" were 1969-1977, and the it was Citizens Band Radio that was changing (Yup, I'm still stuck in Mr. Peabody's Wayback Machine). It's pretty much a given that tubes ruled the world for the better part of the sixties [with the exception of several mobile units]. Favorite rigs around that time were the "Big Dogs" like Tram's Titan, and Titan II; Regency's Imperial II; Browning's Mark II; Lafayette's Comstat series, and HB-333, 444's.
And, up until 1969ish, when it came to mode of operation, AM was king-of-the-band. There had been some brief, yet unsuccessful attempts at introducing Single Sideband to the public - one in the very early sixties, a few in the mid-sixties (E.F. Johson 350 or the "Johnny", which notably was also solid-state), as well as DSB (Double Sideband), and General Radiotelephone's SB-72, but for most of that decade it was AM. Even operators with the Browning sideband rigs were perplexed by it, and didn't like the fact they had to "clarify" the other station in, so they used it mostly on AM.
But then solid-state units (which had been primarily mobile) began to appear around 1970, and the push for sideband began in earnest. If I recall correctly, it was like going to bed in an AM world and waking up with alien invaders call SSB....it seemed like almost at once, the major players appeared:
- SBE's Console 1
- Quickly followed by their "Super Console"
- Cobra's 131
- Pace had the "Sidetalk 1000"
- Pearce Simpson's "Simba", "Bengal", "Cheetah"
- Midlands 13-880B, and 885B
- And others, that don't come to mind at this moment
CB Magazines created column's devoted to SSB, and you had to admit, those full page color ads of the new breed of CB had to get your heart pumping a little faster. I jumped onto the SSB band wagon as fast as I could get the money for one. Up until this time, there weren't any real local "Dealers", most of what we bought came from mail order or more likely a neighbors garage. We had a couple of garage dealers in our town. They found a distributor and depending on their cash flow, would either have a rig or two to look at, or at least a bunch of catalogs. The garage dealer I remember best sold Pearce Simpson for the most part (although he would not turn a Midland buyer away) and owned a "Simba" which was a great advertising tool - you got to hear him on the air, and could go over to his house and actually see it [take note though, that while this was a sideband rig, he used it almost exclusively on CH2-AM]. To a teenager, it looked HUGE, and between all the bells and whistles, the shiny chrome and that alien looking desk microphone, it would have been a done deal for me - except it was too expensive.
One day, while talking with some friends, a fellow called "Mister Chips" asked for a break and introduced himself to our group. Apparently he was new to CB and was just getting the feel of things, and asked how his rig sounded. The answer was "Great". Then the question was: "What kind of rig are ya running?". "A Sideband Engineering Super Console" Mister Chips replied. The name sounded familiar so I grabbed my latest copy of S9 and there it was in full page ad. We didn't know what the real difference was between sideband and AM, because we'd never heard a SSB signal. Mister Chips oblidged us by going to SSB and talking.
After the shock wore off, he was deluged with questions and even invited us over to see the rig. My Dad took me over to his house and Mister Chips was an agreeable sort, years older than my Dad, but they connected on a level I couldn't - until it came to his rig, which was sitting on the kitchenette table, looking awesome. "How 'bout a cup of coffee?" he asked. My Dad said sure, and I nodded an affirmative as well. Thus two milestones were marked that day:
- I saw my first SSB rig, and even talked on it, and
- I had my first cup of coffee.
So now I was hot for a sideband rig, but how could I afford it? they were four hundred dollars and up. Then one day a group of us were talking about SSB and one of them mentioned that they had heard of an actual CB Radio shop, just across the border in Springfield, Ma. and after some negotiations, I got my Dad to drive me up there. I knew the street but not the exact address, and while we were driving down the street I saw a TV Repair Shop to our left and taped to the window was a sign that read: "CB RADIOS TOO". That turned out to be the CB Shop, and it was the place where I bought my first SSB rig - a used Midland 13-880B, for under $200. As I found out later, I would pay dearly for lack of adjacent channel rejection in my dealings with my neighbor/nemesis, the "Bald Eagle".
Once I got a sideband rig two or three of my radio buddies followed. We all like the straight forward kinda talk, and using our first names instead of "Handles". We used channels 16-18 for SSB, which was great until more truckers moved to channel 19 and bleedover became an issue. All-in-all, it was still a great 23 channel world, and actual CB "ONLY" Dealers began to pop-up like microwave popcorn. These were the days of "wine and roses", and we were unaware of what was just around the corner...
[TO BE CONTINUED: AT A LATER DATE]