January 23, 2011 by staff
QRZ, Fred Lloyd, AA7BQ, a spinoff of what was once called the “Code Project”, a cooperative effort to obtain and distribute cassettes database of the FCC, founded QRZ in 1992. The “Code Project “Born on the Internet newsgroup rec.ham radio (later rec.radio.amateur.misc), and the original sponsor was rusted Carruth, N7IKQ, who finally returned to Fred when he became unable to continue effort.
The “project” the project target is to obtain data tapes of the FCC, and then make copies for distribution to other interested parties. Fred first experience with the draft code was largely without incident since the total distribution comprised only about 40 copies. At the time, each person requesting a copy of the database would send Fred a blank tape and 20 with a SASE. The $ 20 was to help recover the cost of obtaining data from the FCC, which priced at more times and 700 for the two great 9-track (12-inch) rolls of tape mainframe.
Soon, six months had passed and again it became necessary to obtain a new set of tapes from the FCC. Tired of spending your free time, make copies of tapes, Fred began to wonder about CD-ROM – a new format but new universal. It does not really seem possible, because the cost of mastering a CD-ROM (about $ 2500) was prohibitive given the limited number of potential customers of the Internet experience.
Thinking outside the box, “Fred began to wonder if perhaps there might be a CD-ROM shareware already existing in the publication that perhaps had enough unused space or free to receive data indicative. At that time, the total size of the database of the FCC was only about 50 megabytes compressed, so it sounded like there might be a possibility.
In this spirit, Fred contacted a well known editor shareware CDROM, Bob Bruce at the defunct Walnut Creek CDROM, and the question arises: “Do you think you may have an existing CD with 50 MB of free space available?” To the surprise of Fred, Bob replied with “Why not just put up a Ham Radio CD-ROM? Just send us material and we’ll tap it.” With this simple exchange on the phone, Fred began working on the project CD-ROM first. Shortly after Fred decided to use the shortened term QRZ Amateur Radio as a name for the new product. It was short, catchy, and 100 percent amateur!
Suddenly, worry about how to keep the data as small as possible to fit on a CD-ROM shareware has given way to another problem, unexpeced: How would we go and fill a disk of 650 MB? Then, with the help of John Moore, NJ7E, a DOS-Based Research Program has been developed (in about a week) and format database has been created QRZ.
To help fill the disc, Fred came out to what one might call the old Internet (World Wide Web did not exist yet) and gathered all the bits of shareware radio amateur who could not be found different FTP sites that existed at the time. It was packed this year with the equivalent of several amateur radio newsgroup messages in a collection that would become an integral part of the first edition of the QRZ CDROM.
Neither Fred nor Walnut Creek had any idea how much amateur radio new CD-ROM would be sold. Walnut had printed 1,000 copies of the new CD and Private Fred thought it was probably a bit too optimistic. After all, the last “project code” distribution had collected only 40 customers! Nevertheless, Fred jumped and bought 100 copies anyway, probably because he liked seeing his name on the cover, and the fact that they seemed like a cool product.
It took about 2 months to sell the first 100 copies, which for 19.95 each. After that, sales appeared to slow down a little. At the time, order a CD to a potential customer had to first send a personal check by mail. Fred has always believed in hams and has always accepted the check without cashing in the bank. It may well be a testimony to amateur radio that hundreds of controls such as Fred agreed, not one has ever bounced!
Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Fred, back in Walnut Creek CDROM they had trouble keeping the new QRZ CDROM on the shelves. They were soon sold the first 1,000 copies and had to order a second printing. Within months, sales surpassed 5000 units and Fred was now getting email users CDROM news from around the world.
This activity has generated great enthusiasm and soon Fred (a computer engineer by profession) started working on the second edition and a new Windows program code. Three years later, Fred wrote the Windows 95 version of its program and became the QRZ CDROM first ham radio ship with all 32-bit “designed for Windows 95″ software research. During this same period, the World Wide Web was born and October 28, 1993, QRZ is in line with http://www.qrz.com and a call server-based Web search. QRZ has the distinction of being one of the first 5000 sites in existence (there are several million today).
Today, in the fall of 2005, 25 editions and more than 250,000 copies of the CDROM QRZ Ham Radio were sold worldwide and won the title of best-selling # 1 software amateur radio of all time. The QRZ CDROM was used on all 7 continents (yes, including Antarctica) was performed on the space shuttle, space station MIR, and is in use today aboard the International Space Station.
QRZ remains a small company that is headed by Fred and it works from a spare room in his house. Fred is extremely grateful for the support of many friends he made on the Internet and looks forward to many more in the future.
And what do the letters stand for QRZ? Well, in the days when radiotelegraphy was widely used, QRZ was shortened by a code that means “Who is calling me?” It is still used today, even by voice operators during contests or when they simply do not hear the call.
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