I had an interesting thing happen a few years ago, and this thread about CB Radio reminded me of it. I was with my spouse at a doctor visit an hours drive outside the Flint Area, where somehow it came up that the doctor was from Flint. I asked where he lived in Flint and he told me the name of the street that he grew up on. It also turned out that we went to the same HS and Undergraduate College, over a decade apart, but that we had had many of the same teachers and professors. I asked him if he knew the "Maniac CBer" who lived on his street in Flint. This CBer used a very powerful linear amplifier and used to get into arguments with people on the CB and some of them tracked his CB signal down and he got into physical confrontations with some of them. The very good doctor then revealed that he did indeed know who the "Maniac CBer" was. It had been his father!
OMG-What a terrible movie. I recall my friend's father proudly displaying his CB radio in his car in the mid-70's. I was 12 and I thought it was a stupid idea then. Glad to know that my instincts were correct.
What made CB Radio mainly unnecessary was the development and falling prices of cell phones, and the rise of the internet and WiFi. You can get whatever information you need by calling or getting on the internet. Same with the internet and meeting people. People used to use CB radio like an internet dating site. CB radio still has its enthusiasts. Almost all those enthusiasts use linear amplifiers, which are technically illegal, and talk "skip"(distances over 150 miles, at least back in the day), which is also technically illegal.
CB Dating was particularly popular in rural areas. In fact, a certain famous Flintoid Rock Star met his current wife on CB Radio when he lived in Onaway. The whole story is in his authorized biography.
I have a pair of 5 Watt CB Walkie Talkies. A few years ago I tried to use them to keep in touch with some people just a little over two miles away over very flat terrain and with no obstructions. As a matter of fact, I could see the person clearly with a pair of 10X Binoculars when talking with them. I could barely hear them at a little more than two miles! It was partly due to skip signals from people with linear amplifiers, but the signal just wasn't solid at all. Good reliable communications with the Walkie Talkies was possible for 1/4 to 1/2 mile, which is about what you get with the Citizens Radio Service Walkie Talkies, which operate on a much higher frequency. Sales literature claimed 20+ Mile range possible for both types, CB and Citizens Radio Service. You might get that if you were on top of two mountains with high gain antennas mounted 30 feet off the ground, but real life conditions bring the range back to the 1/4 to 1/2 mile range with near complete reliability with Walkie Talkies, assuming you don't have an obstruction in between. Both systems are good for keeping track of your party at an event such as a picnic, convention, or antique show. But cell phones, and internet WiFi and Smartphone internet access can do that too. CB and CRS are fun to explore the range of though. Amateur Radio gives you the ability to use a lot more power and get a much better range legally (requires that you pass a challenging technical test to get a license, though CRS also does require a registration type license).
Correction. Citizens Radio Service (CRS) should read Family Radio Service (FRS). There are also additional channels with more power allowed in the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS). Citizens Radio Service (CRS) is an antiquated name for it dating back to the 1960s, when it was first introduced. Licensing provision is kind of confusing and in flux. GMRS currently requires licensing and a licensing fee, but the FCC has proposed eliminating it below a certain power level as I interpret the rules. According to Wikipedia, no action has been taken at this time. Maybe Mr. Wirt can fill us in on this. FRS and GMRS use narrow band FM frequency channels just below TV Channel 14. These could "skip" with enough power, but over a very short range compared to CB Radio, which is essentially in the "Shortwave" region of the spectrum which is close to that used by amateur radio operators and international broadcasters.
Got a combo FRS/GMRS hand held pair of radios for Christmas a few years back. Read the info that came with them, and being an up-right citizen,called and applied for the form to get the permit from the FCC. It came in one of those large envelopes with a ton of postage, held about an inch of paperwork,and weighed around a pound! After a short time, I called the help number, and the lady on the other end laughed, and said that if I didn't use the upper (GMRS) channels , I could disregard the permit......wink, wink. I got the distinct impression that I was the only chump to ever have aplied for the stupid permit!
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