Amateur radio enthusiast turns 100
Amateur radio enthusiast Harry Mills celebrates his 100th birthday today. Mills has been involved with radio, both amateur and professional, since 1921.
Mills was born in Beaver, Pa., in 1907 and became interested in amateur radio during his high-school years. His school’s science curriculum included an electronics class, which piqued his interest and later led to a career in radio communications. After selling magazines to earn money for college, he attend Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pa., for two years and spent one year at Washington and Jefferson College in Washington, Pa., according to a Radio Club of America biography.
In 1922, Mills received his amateur radio operator’s license and was issued the call sign 8VHX—long before the Federal Communications Commission was formed, and when communications were regulated by the Department of Commerce.
Afterwards, he owned a radio equipment sales and repair shop, the Mills Radio Co., and later joined the ranks at RCA, where he was assigned to the U.S. Navy to install submarine radar and the U.S. Army to teach NATO countries how to use U.S- supplied radio communications equipment, among other tasks.
After retiring from a 30-year career at RCA, Mills founded Chapter 76 of the Blue Ridge of the Quarter Century Wireless Association in 1974 and served as its first and then later as its 25th president.
Mills hopes more high-school students will follow in his footsteps and learn about amateur radio communications.
“Ham radio is the basic form of electronics and if you can get a youngster interested in communicating with friends or other people, you start them on an electronics career,” he said. “That’s how people frequently get started in the engineering business. They work in electronics and then become engineers.”