I'm sure someone could always come up with a different list of first radios. But why start out spending thousands of dollars if you find out ham radio is not for you? I know, perish the thought. But it does happen. One inexpensive radio that for the prices you can do a lot with. That's the Baofeng UV-5R. No, I'm not paid to push that one. It's from experience. I bought one for less than $35 and that included charger and USB cable. If you download and use the Chirp software it will make programming it a LOT easier. The software is free and will allow you to adjust features easily and program lots of channels and repeaters in much faster than by hand. Not to mention make a backup copy of the settings on the radio in case it dies. You can then load the settings on a replacement. There are also different flavors of the Baofeng UV series. Some have more power and added features. the 5R is a 2m/70cm radio. So you can work your local repeaters and get on 2m and 70cm bands. If you don't have a license it's great to listen in on conversations and listen what's going on. Many clubs use repeaters to have a weekly Net meeting. Also there are a lot of satellites you can listen to using 2m/70cm radios. If you have a license you can even talk to the International Space Station if you buy or build a good directional antenna. So don't underestimate the power of this radio to help get you started. Plus it's prety sturdy radio and fits in the palm of your hand.