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The walkie talkie, also known as the handheld transceiver has a rich history and has been instrumental in developments in the military sphere. Fundamentally they are a hand held way to communicate with anyone else who has a similar device. Their history can be traced to the Canadian government who during the Second World War designed the device in order that military operatives had a ready form of communication for operational activities.
The first walkie talkie device was the Motorola SCR-300. First being released in 1940 it was not as handheld as modern variants; at this time the smallest devices still required the user to carry a backpack. However development occurred quickly and in the latter stages of the war a handheld device was released being labelled the ‘handie talkie’ by troops. The term walkie talkie, although being used describe all modern devices during the war referred to the backpack model rather than the handheld. The handie variety however suffered in terms of operation because of its reduced size.
Development after the war was rapid with improvements to both range and size evident amongst the allied nations. However the walkie talkie still had its limitations. Due to the power restrictions, normally only a few watts, the communication applications were somewhat poor. Most handheld devices of the post war era, even up to the seventies operated poorly in built up areas where buildings restricted the transmission of radio waves. As a result, military personnel often had to utilise a highly mounted ‘repeater’ that vastly improved the range of the device.
Today the Walkie Talkie is still a frequently used device in the military although modern models are far smaller and usually integrated in the form of headsets and mouthpieces. The devices however are not purely used in the military sphere, applications today include the public sector, outdoor activities and security personnel, in fact anywhere where constant communication is needed, a walkie talkie is regarded a standard piece of equipment. Other developments have improved the durability of the devices making them shockproof and waterproof. Some developments have focussed on the size of the devices; modern electronics have allowed light and small models to enter the market. Additionally, designers have incorporated scrambling devices in order for operatives to have private communications; this type of development has been especially useful in the construction of police radios.
The walkie talkie has also become a popular toy for children. Predominantly these are low power devices that do not require a licence because they operate in a specific frequency range and do not have the power to communicate over long distances. Normally the components used in the construction of these toys are far cheaper than ‘adult’ varieties meaning that they are not applicable for uses in business. In addition, while more expensive models have a separate microphone and speaker, the children’s models use one speaker for both purposes. One use that is not normally present on adult variants is the inclusion of a code button on kid’s devices. While this is included for the use of Morse code messaging, it is usually used to annoy parents.
The walkie talkie has come from a military background, created to ease the tasks of those in warfare to a device that can be used by children as a toy. This shows that it has entered many different sections of society and has become integral to many different communication requirements. Without the invention of this device, short range communication would not be as easy; the role they play in security, law enforcement and safety procedures cannot be underestimated and most probably form the most important developments the walkie talkie has brought us.