The CB radio proliferated after the Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, in the United States established a Class D “citizen’s band" in 1958, allowing people to have private, two-way conversations with each other over short distances. Two of the earliest manufacturers of transmitters and receivers were Browning Laboratories and Hallicrafters, which was also well regarded for its ham radio equipment. Unlike ham operation, though, using a CB no longer requires a license, although it is still technically against FCC rules to whistle over a CB radio.

In the 1960s, as transistors replaced vacuum tubes and all things electronic were miniaturized, CB radios started to be manufactured for vehicles. These devices were quickly embraced by long-haul truck drivers, and by the 1970s, the image of a trucker barreling down the highway while chatting away with his fellow drivers had become an American archetype. Trucker lingo soon became a part of our daily language, and before long even seat covers in roller skates were on the lookout for smokeys handing out invitations in the grass.


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