The idea of QSL cards has been around since the early 19th century in one form or another and is used across a wide spectrum of radio communication hobbies from shortwave listeners (SWL) to amateur radio.
The main purpose of these collectable cards was to provide written proof of a long distance contact usually between countries, filled out with the operating frequency, power used and sometimes a wealth of information on transmitter and antenna systems these QSL cards were collected in the thousands by many CB users.
As CB users are not required to keep detailed operating log books these collections serve as a great reminder of those hard won contacts against a pile up of other stations all trying to grab those special DX stations.
QSL Safety and the Bureau
With CB radio being such a widely used and open system almost all users were reluctant to give out even the smallest amount of personal details on the air and this initially presented a problem when trying to get QSL card delivered to an address. This problem was solved to some extent by the use of PO box systems where the users real address was masked by a forwarding system but the one defining factor that really promoted the exchange of these cards was the many bureaus that where set up in different countries to handle the forwarding of mail.
Using the bureau was always an easier option when reception was a little scratchy because instead of trying to get across you PO box number or your address its was a simply matter of stating which bureau you used. Part of any successful contact was to confirm call signs and this coupled with the bureau address is all that was needed to exchange cards.
An added bonus of using the bureaus was the lower international postage cost to each individual member as huge amounts of these QSL cards could be bundled up and sent to each country as a single bulk package costing a lot less than if each card was sent separately.
This did cause some delay in receiving the cards but was overlooked in favor of the reduced cost, ease of use and the fact that they were not really time sensitive.
Electronic QSL Cards
Communications has moved on greatly since that first QSL card was sent and with our always on media rich internet so has the process of using the cards to confirm radio contacts. All the information and design for the cards is now mostly sent over the internet and printed out saving all the hassle and time of posting anything.