Forty years ago, the United States was in the midst of the CB craze. The eleven meter band had been set aside for the Class D Citizens Radio Service in 1958, and it was initially a relatively useful service for short-range communications. But during the 1970’s, it became so wildly popular that every channel was almost continually filled with signals of varying strengths, so that only the closest and most powerful could break through. Back in those days, tuning through the 27 MHz band revealed a cacophony of heterodynes every 10 kHz along the dial, night and day.
CB’s also required a license, and at some point, the FCC was hopelessly overwhelmed. A few years later, they gave up, and licensed everyone in the United States under a “licensed by rule” arrangement. Many people ignored the license requirement, but those who went by the rules faced delays of months before the license arrived in the mail.
As a stopgap measure, the FCC in 1976 allowed for interim licenses. After you mailed in the license application, you filled out a second form, which you retained for your records. You even assigned yourself a call sign. The call started with K, followed by your initials, followed by your ZIP code. So in my case, I would have been KRC-55418.
Both the license application and the interim license were contained in the box when you bought a CB. But if you didn’t have a copy, the July-August 1976 issue of Elementary Electronics contained a copy. Apparently, the size of the form had to be right, so the magazine instructed you to carefully cut the page to exactly 8 x 10 inches, and follow the instructions.
After you certified, under penalty of imprisonment, that you had mailed the form and the $4, that you were over 18 and not the representative of a foreign government, and weren’t in any prior trouble with the FCC, you assigned yourself the call sign, and you were on the air. The back of the page contained a summary of the rules that you were to scrupulously obey.