The SKCC was started on Jan. 2, 2006, from a QRZ message-board thread, just after the ARRL SKN event. Here is the original post by Tom SKCC #1:
"Do it the 1st of each month starting at 0000Z and going until ?? Start your own SKCC club. 100 Q's with a SK in a year gets a certificate.
"Ah the heck with it...I'm officially starting the SKCC club...PM me if you want a SKCC number, I'll start compiling a database.
"de KC9ECI SKCC-001"
Later that same day the first SKCC Webpage was created.
In the fall of 2006, I had an idea. Wouldn't it be cool if SKCC had an official key. Something that would tie us together as a group, sort of like a uniform, but much more fun. I posted a query to the group and got a flood of positive responses. In classic SKCC fashion, I decided to "just do it." I contacted Marshall Emm at Morse Express and we began discussion how this crazy idea could become a reality. At the same time, I was chatting with folks on the list to see what they wanted in an SKCC key.
Some wanted an inexpensive key. Something simple like a J-38 but with an SKCC label. A true working man's key. Others wanted something that would be special, something really worth owning an operating. An Amplidan with an SKCC label. Some wanted a key that looked great and could be displayed proudly in the shack. Meanwhile, Marshall was telling me what was feasible. We narrowed our choices down to two.
Bencher key with an SKCC plaque. This would be similar to the Elecraft labeled Hex Key. The price would be about what the current stock key costs. Dealing with a US-based company would make this one easy to arrange. Some on the list thought it was fine, while others took more of an "over my dead body" stance.
LTA key. The LTA keys are real good-looking keys that send well enough. They are priced affordably too. Marshall worked with them and got them to commit to engraving the sending arm of their gold plated Marconi key with the SKCC name, logo, and a serial number. Nice.
The two key possibilities were put to a vote and both keys garnered a large following, but the LTA key, by virtue of its good looks, emerged as the favorite. I finalized plans with Marshall to place an order.
But there was a caveat.
Marshall required that he receive at least 15 orders before he'd order the keys from LTA. This venture had to make business sense for him, and if only a small handful were willing to actually lay down the cash to buy one, then it didn't make sense to continue. Word was put out and Marshall began taking orders.
Orders began to trickle in. Then more orders, then more on top of that. We passed 15 orders pretty quickly and Marshall ordered 30 keys figuring he'd have some in stock for sales after the initial offering. While the keys were being built, more orders came in. By the time the first batch of 30 keys arrived in CO, more than 30 orders had been received. A second batch was quickly ordered. Eventually sales would top 100 keys. And to think we were concerned that we might not make the 15 key minimum!
The first keys were in the hands of their happy owners by Christmas 2006 and many were used during K1Y (first anniversary special event) operations. Not all the keys arrived on time however. A large snow storm hit the Denver area and tripped up DHL. Keys shipped through that carrier experienced a long delay and arrived at the owner's QTH later than planned.
Submitted 2009, Keith Darwin, N1AS (now N7TAT), SKCC #344C
Note: More club history will follow with information on:
Special Event Station history
SKCC QSL stickers