If you have a Kindle or other e-reader (or a computer, since you download a free Kindle viewer at this link), and you're interested in reading about the early days of telegraphy and wireless, there are a treasure trove of old books available for free, some of which are linked below.
There are three good sources of such books. The first is Amazon itself. Since essentially anything over 80 years old is in the public domain, these books are generally made available for free. One warning, however, is that in many cases, only the text, and not the illustrations, are available. In many cases, this is not a concern. But particularly with old scientific and technical books, the lack of illustrations can be problematic.
The second source of material is Google Books. Again, since books over 80 years old are in the public domain, millions of them are available as free Google e-books. Generally, you can download a PDF of the book, which will give you the text and the illustrations. You can view these on your computer or transfer them to your Kindle. The Kindle is not ideal for viewing PDF's. However, I've found that by rotating the text into the landscape mode, most old books can be read quite easily on the Kindle.
Another great source of old radio books is tubebooks.org. This site has many interesting old books available, only a few of which are linked below.
By searching these sites, you will undoubtedly find more old books. On this page are a small selection of the books that reside on my Kindle.
While they are not, strictly speaking, radio books, many of the old issues of these two magazines contain interesting radio articles. In fact, almost every early issue contained at least one article of interest to hams. Amazingly, every single issue of Popular Mechanics and Popular Science are available absolutely free on Google Books.
The following Popular Science series from 1916 is an interesting look at how a beginning ham from the earliest days of radio might start out. It's a four-part series of articles entitled "How to Become a Wireless Operator". The link below will take you to the issue of the magazine. The page number for the start of the article is shown in parentheses.
If you are an ARRL
member, every single issue of QST back to the very first one is
available online in the online QST archives. In my opinion, this benefit alone is worth the cost of
membership. Unfortunately, the full text of the articles cannot be searched. However, with a bit of detective work, you can sometimes get lucky and find the exact article you are looking for. To do this, go to
Google Books and do a search for your keywords, along with the word "QST". Many issues have been digitized, even though they are not available to view on Google in their entirety. You will, however, see a "snippet" with your search term. From this, you can usually determine the year, and then look for the full article in the QST archive. This trick doesn't always work, but it often does.
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