Citizens Band Radio History

Invented by Al Gross in 1945, the CB radio originally served as a method of communication for troops during World War II. After the war, Gross worked to make it possible for two-way radios to be used for personal communication and the CB radio service was established by law in the U.S. in 1949.

Along with what is now the Family Radio Service (FRS) and General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS), the CB radio service was created as a method of short-distance communication using two-way radios and was popular with farmers, drivers, and radio hobbyists. It wasn’t until the 1970s that technology advanced and the CB market caught on as a method of communication between drivers.



When the U.S. government imposed a nationwide 55 mile per hour speed limit after the 1973 oil crisis that led to fuel shortages and rationing, drivers needed a method of communication to find service stations with available fuel. Commercial truckers used CB radios to locate fuel stations and notify others of speed traps. Since independent truckers were paid by the mile, a 55 mile per hour speed limit affected their productivity, and their paychecks. In 1974, drivers relied on CB radios to organize blockades and convoys in strikes that protested the new speed limit and other trucking regulations.


Citizen Bands Radio License 

Originally, a license was required for CB radio use, and there were many restrictions on the Citizens Band service. Once the devices gained popularity, however – especially after being featured on hit TV shows – the license requirements were dropped. Currently, the Citizens Band service does not require a license for operation, regardless of age, as long as the rules of operation established by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) are followed.


The Evolution of Cobra CB Radios

Throughout the 1950s and 60s, Carl Korn, an electronic engineer and entrepreneur, and his partner Philip Ban began testing and creating devices in electronic testing and measurement. Over the years, their business, B&K Precision,  joined with other companies to form Dynascan Corporation, which developed the world’s first CB radio, the Sidewinder. The Cobra was created shortly after, and when the name caught on with consumers, the company adopted it into the symbol and as a brand name. The corporate name officially changed from Dynascan to Cobra Electronics Corporation in 1993, and the company continued to boom.

As a top performer in the advancement of electronic products, Cobra Electronics continued to create cutting edge CB radios and radar detectors. Today, Cobra’s 70+ years of experience in researching and developing innovative consumer electronics is a contributing factor as to why the Cobra 29 is still the number one selling CB radio in the U.S. after 60 years. Cobra has also played a significant role in improving the quality of communication for CB radio consumers.


Petition For FCC Part 95 Rule Changes 

In 2016, Cobra petitioned the FCC to revise Part 95 rules to allow CB radios to use frequency modulation (FM). Cobra contended that FM offers improved speech quality and lower noise interference, which improves the standard of two-way radios and is a benefit to the customer.  



Through the direct efforts of Cobra Electronics and the enthusiastic support from loyal customers and the distribution network, the FCC granted the request and in 2021, Part 95 officially was updated to include FM as an option for two-way radio use.   

The Citizens Band Radio Service consists of 40 channel frequencies that are mostly 10 kHz apart.  There are also five remote-control channels that are used for remote-controlled models of cars, boats, and toys. Traditionally, CB radios have functioned on AM, but with the FM mode opening for both professional and recreational use, users can now experience clearer communication. Transmitter power is limited to 4 watts in the US, and range can vary depending on the terrain and quality of the product.  



Today, thanks to Cobra Electronics’ petitions to improve the quality of the Citizens Band Radio Service, users can enjoy the benefits of CB radio communication in a range of industries. From marine use to manufacturing communication to backyard sleepovers and adventures in the great outdoors, two-way radios offer clear communication when a mobile phone isn’t dependable.