According to my Funk & Wagnalls, an amateur is one who practices an art or science for his own pleasure, rather than as a profession. Still, some amateur radio operators, AKA hams, think the word not only carries a negative connotation, but denigrates their abilities and the valuable services they provide. Me? I embrace the term, and I'll tell you why.
Anyway, in a world fired up by Marconi's amazing accomplishment, experimenters, engineers, inventors, educators, and hobbyists started directing their efforts into this new field called wireless, and these enthusiasts were collectively known as amateurs.
VROOM! VROOM! VROOM! Fast forward to the Chicago World's Fair of 1933, where members of a local amateur radio club displayed some of the equipment they'd designed and built ...
Guess who happened to visit that World's Fair?
Yep, you got it. Marconi.
Natch, he stopped to look at that display of radio equipment. Can you imagine how the locals felt when they realized one of the guys examining their equipment was Marconi? And how they felt when he actually praised its design and workmanship?
One of the locals was especially taken aback, and stammered, "But, sir, we're just a bunch of amateurs".
To which the great Marconi allegedly replied, "I have always thought of myself as an amateur."
So I say ... if it was good enough for Marconi, it's more than good enough for me.
[Amateur radio operators must pass a battery of tests in order to receive a license and call sign from their country's governing body. In the U.S., that body is the Federal Communication Commission, and my call sign is AF4FO.]