Twitter, Facebook and smartphones keep us in constant communication with the world, but a few old-line purists still do it the pre-digital way via ham radio. Amateur radio operators never heeded the modernist call to hang up their transmitters and microphones. In fact, some 700,000 are currently licensed in the U.S., and their numbers are growing, particularly since the FCC stopped requiring operators to master hard-to-learn Morse code in 2007.
Ham operators aren't simply idle hobbyists, though. Radio operators were crucial to rescue and law enforcement efforts during 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina when other communications systems failed.