Then vs. Now.               

How things have changed on the CB band in the last 35 years


The other day as I was sitting in front of the radio listening to the local chatter, I thought about how the CB radio landscape had changed over the last 4 decades. There have been many comments made about how it's not like it used to be. So I decided to do a lighthearted compare and contrast of the differences between the 1970's CB environment and today's version based on my local observations. As usual, your mileage may vary.

Then:  23 Channels

Now:  40 Channels


Then:  A "cheap" barebones AM mobile rig cost $120.

Now:   A full featured SSB mobile rig can be had for $120.


Then:  A "cheap" base antenna was $12.95.

Now:   A "cheap" base antenna is $59.95.


Then: The "best" ground plane antenna was the Hy-Gain Penetrator, which could be had for around $59.

Now:  The "best" ground plane antenna is the Interceptor 10K, which looks a lot like the Penetrator, but costs over $300.


Then:  Radios were made in the U.S. or Japan.

Now:   Radios are made in China, or some other 3rd world Pacific Rim country.


Then:  Hand wired radios.

Now:   Surface mount devices.


Then: The most popular radios were Midland, SBE, Realistic, & Lafayette.

Now:  The most popular radios are Galaxy, RCI, Magnum, & Cobra.


Then:  Radio Shack actually sold several models of CB radios, antennas and parts.

Now:   Radio Shack would rather sell cell phones.


Then:  Most of the regular crew was within 4 miles of my location, and the closest was next door.

Now:  Most of the regular crew is within 30 miles of my location, and the closest is 4 miles away.


Then:  A "long distance" direct shot on AM was 25 miles.

Now:  A "long distance" direct shot on AM is 70 miles.


Then:  Several channels were crowded with different local groups who fought over bleed over.

Now:   Everyone hangs on one channel, and fight amongst themselves over personality conflicts.


Then:  Most of the local crew ran barefoot 4 watt radios. A handful of people had amplifiers but used them sparingly.

Now:    Nearly everyone has an amplifier (or a "high power" Export radio), and most use them continuously.


Then:  250 watts was considered "High Power".

Now:   250 watts is considered a "driver". "High power" isn't achieved until you cross the 1 KW mark.


Then:  Practically all base, and most mobile amps were made with tubes.

Now:   Practically all amps, except for the highest power units, are solid state.


Then:  High Voltage.

Now:   High Amperage.


Then:  Big dead key.

Now:   Swing.


Then:  People ran home to their bases when they wanted to put out the "Big signal".

Now:   People run out to their mobiles when they want to put out the "Big signal".


Then:  People worked very hard to get the most omni-directional pattern from their mobile.

Now:   People work very hard to force a directional signal to the front of their mobile.


Then:  Ignition and alternator noise.

Now:   Fuel pump, ECU, and injector noise.


Then:  Plenty of room to mount a radio under the dash in a car.

Now:   Plenty of room to mount a radio......... in the trunk!


Then:  Birdie.

Now:   5 tone Roger Beep.


Then:  Someone running an echo was cool and innovative.

Now:   Someone running an echo is annoying.


Then:  Getting busted by the FCC was a real concern.

Now:   Getting busted by the FCC is of little concern.


Then:  Ham operators were respected and looked up to.

Now:   Ham operators are despised.


Then:  Someone with a weak signal was called a "grasser".

Now:   Someone with a weak signal is called a "mud duck".


Then:  If someone had told me that a station 10 miles away could take out another station only a mile away, I'd have said not in a million years.

Now:   It happens on almost a daily basis.


Then:  Walkie-Talkies were used to talk to the locals when out in the yard or before you could afford a "big" radio.

Now:   Walkie-Talkies are hidden in the woods and used to jam the channel.


Then: The language heard was rarely above a "PG" rating.

Now:  The language often exceeds the "R" rating.


Then:  CB radio was a ton of fun.

Now:  It still is.