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The History and Use of CB Radios

Old RadioShack CB Radio Ad

Old RadioShack CB Radio Ad


The History and Use of CB Radios.

CB Radio means Citizens Band Radio. Disigned for short distance communication between individual people, CB's can be used without a license and for either personal or business use.

History of CB Radios.

The CB Radio was invented in 1945. Al Gross, the inventor, also invented the walkie-talkie. He was the founder of the Citizens Radio Corp. In the late 1940s, the company sold Class B handheld radios for the public. During this time , UHF technology was not advanced enough to be able to sell mass numbers of radios to people at affordalbe prices. In 1958, the Class D of CB Radios was released. Class D was opened at 27 MHz. This versio nstarted out with 23 channels. The 40 channels came out in 1977.

In 1973, a petition was unsuccessful in creating a Class E CB Radio service at 220MHz. It was declined by amateur radio organizations and others. There are numerous more frequencies were developed for remote control use and other things.

In the 1960s CB Radio service was quite popular, being used by small businesses like carpenters, plumbers, and electricians. The radio was also used a lot by truckers and hobbyists. The cost when down a great deal when the solid-state technology grew. The size and weight also decreased with this. Know instead of only professional workers using the CB, the general public could but them too.

CB clubs were formed and so was a special code language. The languange consisted of code words and the 10-code system. Some CB slang is listed below.

The 1973 oil crisis caused the gas prices to go up considerably. The United States government issued a 55 MPH, nationwide speed limit. After this fuel shortages went crazy. CB's were usedto notify other drivers of gas stations who had or did not have gas. With the speed limit change, CB users would also nofity other users if they saw any police cars.

At first, CB radios did require a license to use, but numerous people ignored it. Handles (nicknames) were created for people so that actual names were not being overheard by other people listening. Eventually, the law requiring a license was dropped.

In 1969, channel 9 was used for emergencies, and channel 10 was the preferred highway channel. However, because of interference with channel 9, channel 19 became the most commonly used highway channel.

During the 1970s and 1980s, the trend of CB radios was similar to online chats or text messaging today. When people did this, they developed friendships with other people on CB's, and while their real names remained anonymous, their handles were well known names.

Unfortunatley, with advances in technology like cell phones and the internet, the CB phenomenon has died down from its original appeal. However stores such as Radio Shack, still sell the fun little CB radio, and it makes for a fantastic hobby!

Using the CB Radio.

CB Radios today are used mainly for telling your buddies or other CB users about Smokeys up the road and to watch out for them. Also, CB's are used to report emergencies or traffic accidents in front of other people (Channel 9 mainly). Yes, you can use a CB for chatting with other people, but it is not courteous to have a constant conversation for more than a minute or two; give other CBer's a chance to put their two cents in (epecially on channel 19). I hear it occasionally (usually by one grouchy trucker :) ), but cursing is frowned on while using a CB radio. It's pretty much impossible to stop people from doing this. People use this for conversation on long road trips. Friends who want to talk on the way somewhere, but are in separate cars, can use the CB for talking easily.

One time not too long ago, there was a conversation between to pals and one said he couldn't afford a new radio in his truck, so his friend started playing ZZ Top through the CB! It was too funny! :)

Example of how CB radios can save you from getting speeding tickets.

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CB Radio in a car

CB Radio in a car

Another CB Radio

Another CB Radio

CB Radio

CB Radio

Smokey and the Bandit DVD Cover (Special Edition)

Smokey and the Bandit DVD Cover (Special Edition)

Talkin the Talk.

Smokey - Law officer

Bear - Police Officer

Bear with Ears - Police officer listening to a CB radio

Bear Taking Pictures - Police officer with a radar

Bear in the Grass - Speed trap

Black and White - Highway patrol

Paper Hanger - Officer giving a ticket

Customer - The person getting the ticket

Mama Bear - Female law enforcement officer

Polar Bear - All white police car

Boy Scouts - State Police

Smokey - Law enforcement officer

Smokey in the Bush - Law enforcement officer hiding

Disco Lights - Flashing lights on a police car

Plain Brown Wrapper - Unmarked police car

Portable House - Camper, RV

Kiddy Car - School bus

Little Cheese - Smaller school bus

Pony Express - Mail truck

Salt Shaker - Snowplow

Mobile / Portable Parking Lot - Car carrier

Bear Bite - Speeding ticket

Bear Bait - Speeding driver

Go-Go Juice - Gas

Got Your Ears On? - Are you listening?

Handle - Nickname

Breaker - Someone wanting to join a conversation on a certain channel

Jabber / Jabbering Idiot - Soeone speaking a foreign language on the CB (Illegal)

Jibber Jabber on Channel 9 - Foreign language on channel 9 (Illegal too, channel 9 is for emergencies)

Rubbernecker - A car that slows down and watches the wreck next to them as they pass

Sandbagging - Having the ability to speak, but does not and just listens


Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry - 1974, Breaker! Breaker! - 1977, Smokey and the Bandit ( One of the greatest movies EVER!!!) - 1977, The Shining - 1980, Smokey and the Bandit II - 1980, Smokey and the Bandit Part 3 - 1983, Die-Hard - 1988, Dazed and Confused - 1993, The Brady Bunch Movie - 1995, Twister - 1996, American Pie 2 - 2001, Austin Powers in Goldmember - 2002, Without a Paddle - 2004, The Dukes of Hazzard - 2005, The Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning - 2007, Live Free or Die Hard - 2007, Transformers - 2008.


Johnny Cash - One Piece at a Time, Jerry Reed - East Bound and Down (Theme song to Smokey and the Bandit), Merle Haggard - The Bull and the Beaver, Beck - Novacane, Weird Al Yankovic - The Truck Drivin' Song.

Thanks for reading!



jupiter-2 on May 22, 2015:

chicken plucker has an egg stuck..OUCH

rough diamond on April 14, 2014:

My husband and I still use our CD's on a daily basis. Neither of us are truckers but it still is the "in" thing for us!!

Polar Bear on February 22, 2014:

If anyone wants for CB Radio to come back, setup a home station and put one on your car. I think once people start seeing these CB antennas on car again, then they may follow and get on the band wagon. I too miss the days of CB radio they way it was in the 70's and early 80's. We may not get it like it was, but if we can get it to half the way it used to be, then I would say that is good. 10-4 Polar Bear is clear.

baldy1948 on January 12, 2014:

i wish CB radios would come back like in the 70s and 80s ! i have a uniden 40 channel with a k-40 magnet mount but i put it away hoping cb radios would come back again ! i still will keep my handle, Bandit ! back in 1977 when i first got my radio i joined a CB club, it was called North American CB Radio association ( NACB R A )how about it CBers, let,s put the word out to get the ones who dropped the CB and went to cell phones to start back up ! it was so much fun back in the 70s and 80s until some people had to ruin it for the rest of us ! 10-4

Triple M on January 11, 2014:

Lets bring back CBer's

bellybutton on November 23, 2013:

I would like to know if there are still any remaining CB radio stores in Orange County / Los Angles County, Long Beach, Ca / Southbay (torrance, Carson, Hawthorne) area? Please e-mail me at

COBRA on February 02, 2013:

To get more distance with your CB radio, try building a wire dipole 102" for each leg. So your antenna will be 204 " long when you finish. One 102" will go to the main output of your radio and the other 102 " to the ground part of your radio. In the 70's people used to use a 102 " whip antenna on there car. Today CB'ers are using beam or wire dipole, I hear most guys and girls like the wire dipole. They talk with greater distance without using any kind of power amp for more wattage.

COBRA on January 23, 2013:

To:: baldy1948,,,cb radio is slowly coming back, there are many amateur radio operator are now switching to cb radio, but also staying on the ham band. Many amateur are getting off the amateur radio repeaters and going simplex, which is radio to radio like cb radio. Because most if not all repeaters will be control by ARES,FEMA and DHS so it will make it very hard to get on the air when they are call up for emergency or SHTF. The guys I talk to a the 2 meter simplex and the 6, 10 meter ssb are the same guys on cb radio.

baldy1948 on October 20, 2012:

i had a radio since 1977 when smokey and the bandit came out ! i tried to figure out a handle and when i saw smokey and the bandit i made my handle bandit ! i sure hope cb radios comes back ! i remember one time it was hard to find a clear channel ! i use to be a member of NACBRA ! ( NORTHER AMERICAN CB RADIO ASSOCIATION) but dropped it when the radios got more and more less !

COBRA on February 27, 2012:

If you guys are really into CB Radio, you may want to try

single side band CB Radio. It is a little more money, but it is worth it.You can talk to someone 3 times the distance of AM. Sometimes up to thousand miles away on 12 watts of power. It is not legal to talk more than 155 mile, but when SHTF ,I don't think it will really matters. Anateur Radio will be taken over by FEMA and Department of Homeland Seucrity.But there will be some underground amateur who will not be losing there call sign and going by code names. They will be mostly on single side band and morse code. What ever way you want to go and what you can afford, you chose a radio. Also it is better to listen then transmit if you are in hiding. To sure you have a 12 volt battery and a solar panel in case the power should go out.

jdell on September 26, 2011:

I recently purchased a cobra 29 50th ann. and it works great.

76 high school grad on July 03, 2011:

In 1976 EVERYONE, including their mothers even, had a CB radio. Maybe a few teenage girls were missing them, but all "family cars" and males' cars were equipped with CB radios. It was a fad, you had to have one just like you had to have a working FM radio. Most people only listened to them on the interstate highways, otherwise they were too noisy so people turned them off and listened to FM radio music or music from 8-track or cassette tapes. But on the highways a fraternity developed of drivers, all on the lookout for "Smokey the Bear."

Thomas on June 08, 2011:

When I lived in Honolulu back in the 1990's I had lots of fun talking to the locals all over Honolulu, Hawaii Kai and even as far a the north shore, when the band opened up I worked California, even Australia ! Honolulu was the only place where I really got to use my Radio Shack 40 channnel Walkie Talkie, I guess the ocean acted as a ground plane antenna, worked fishing ships way out at sea, and from the National Cemetary at the Punch Bowl I worked all over Honolulu with just 3 watts and a rubber duck antenna ! If any of you are really into CB as a hobby and are going to Hawaii pick up a Radio Shack CB walkie Talkie, on the hills there you can work lots of stations ! The mainland big cities CB walkie talkies are rather worthless as range is very limited

cyclone(handle) on June 01, 2011:

Thanks for the memories. In the early 1960's my dad had a base station and a mobile there was a huge anntena onour roof Iremember our call sign. My mom use to talk to my dad from Balt. county to Glen Burnie. The mopbile unit was lik a cinder block mounted under tha dash.

S5 on May 28, 2011:

Wonderful historical material. I was operating a Lafayette in the late zeventies. Enjoyed every moment. Got some curious longdistance calls too on a boosted CB rig out of Holland throughout Europe, England and even the US. Every call was confirmend with a card (which you had to design and get printed in a real print shop). One I can remember well, a card from a Scottisch familly sending over a letter with a pound note enclosed and a warm invitation to meet up if was to spend the Holliday in Scotland! But also locally cb contacts became meetups and exchanges of equipment, help and invitations for fox hunts. Wonderful pasttimes.

Thomas on May 20, 2011:

The one place where I disagree in mounting a mobile CB is near or above the rear view mirror, if you were to have an accident that radio could go flying off it's mountng and hit you on the head rather hard, never mount a radio CB or Ham rig that could fly off and cause serious injury to yourself or a passenger ! Back in the 1980's I had my rig mounted on a transmission hump mount, these were sold then over at K-mart, when I was parked for a long period of time I would just pull down my ma-mount antenna and cover my CB with a cloth, then I did not attarct attention and thief of my radio !

bayouboy on March 11, 2011:

i am 43 years old when i was a 4 years old my mom & dad talked on cb i still have my cb & my mom still have hers to me its beter then a cell phone we still us them im well know all over usa as the bayou boy deep in de swamps of louisiana i still skip talk for a cber you know what im talking about take care

me on March 01, 2011:

you rock my world cb

parkerk393 (author) from Arlington, Texas on March 25, 2010:

Thanks! I appreciate your input.

Adamtree on March 25, 2010:

Nice hub! those really were the days! thanks to evolution of technologies, radios can be heard online.

parkerk393 (author) from Arlington, Texas on February 25, 2010:

J.S. - Thanks for that great comment! I'm so glad you enjoyed my Hub! :) Of course I will follow you.

Bear - Thanks for stopping by! Glad you enjoyed it!

Polar Bear 388 on February 14, 2010:

I been a CB'er since 1977 KBBH3527 and since I am a licence

amatuer radio operator, I enjoyed CB Radio much better.I too wish CB Radio would come back. There very action on the ham band and seem more action on CB Radio. All depend where you live I guess.

JS Matthew from Massachusetts, USA on February 10, 2010:

Hey! Great Hub! I am 32 and I started using a CB when I was about 10. I joined a CB Club (my Dad went with me) and I had a lot of fun.

Once cell phones came out, I lost touch with CB. I recently purchased a Cobra 29 LTD BT which has Blue tooth Technology built-in.

I am from MA and my call sign is: KZZA3173. I am registered with the National Citizens Band Center. I am starting to look into HAM Radio and the licensing and regulations related.

I love the Cobra 29 and I hope that CB use picks up again. Thanks for the Hub! I will follow you, please follow me. Check out my Hub Page on the Cobra 29.

I enjoyed visiting your Hub!

parkerk393 (author) from Arlington, Texas on January 07, 2010:

You and I both! Thanks for the comment!

insulated copper wire on January 06, 2010:

I’d love to have a dollar for every time I’ve been able to avoid a traffic jam because of my CB! You’ll hear the truckers talking about a backup, and you can get off the highway to go around it. I’ve saved many hours like that.

insulated copper wire on January 06, 2010:

I’d love to have a dollar for every time I’ve been able to avoid a traffic jam because of my CB! You’ll hear the truckers talking about a backup, and you can get off the highway to go around it. I’ve saved many hours like that.

parkerk393 (author) from Arlington, Texas on May 14, 2009:

Thanks David. I have done a ton of research. I love CB radios.

David Harvey from Sydney Australia on May 14, 2009:

Nice one, Parker. Your page on CB radio is very nicely put together. You obviously have a passion for the hobby and you have done some excellent research.

johnb0127 from TX on April 01, 2009:

who is caleb?

parkerk393 (author) from Arlington, Texas on April 01, 2009:

In a nutshell, yes you are exactly right. Thanks Abodos!

johnb0127 from TX on March 28, 2009:

Took the words from my mouth... beautifully said...

Abodos on March 28, 2009:

Nice article. I can see these CB radios as the spiritual predecessors of modern internet chat: anonymous nicknames, the ability to communicate with people in far away places who have never met you, unique slang, and the unfortunate lack of personal accountibility that comes from most people not knowing who you really are.

johnb0127 from TX on February 27, 2009:

Picture this:

"We got a hungry heffer possibly with a buffalo in Pickle Park. Also some XYLs'."

Actually, i dont want to picture that


johnb0127 from TX on February 23, 2009:

Very nice hub! I am interested in getting a CB radio now! I have a police scanner and those would fit well together! 560 pounds!


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