No, it never was - you didn't have to become a ham. Prior to radio communication people wrote letters. Then they had typewriters and the printing press. Scientists collaborated across the globe using hand writtten letters, Governments ran Empires the same way.
None of the 'old ways' have gone - you can still do this. In much the same way you can use a 2G phone on a 5G system. Backwards compatibility remains an essential facility and keeps things working and some (guilty) even think we're going to move BACKWARDS if any major conflict breaks out. I restored an antique SW radio just for such an occasion.
So, no one 'had' to become 'anything' to communicate across the globe - particularly a ham. It's a simple illustration of mankinds continual desire to advance and make life simpler as well as shrinking the world we live in. It was inevitably 'amateurs' that started it all too. Individuals with an idea - not a big business effort. All (well, most of) the great ideas came from amateurs/experimenters. Whether or not you are a fan of this is irrelevant as technology will ALWAYS advance - even if we have to start again from the stone age.