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Archive for October 9th, 2010

Radio Archeology: The Story of Bill Halligan and Hallicrafters

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What’s around in the basement?  There they are – my Hallicrafters radios.  An S-38, S-40B, and a SX-130.  The SX-130 is loose and making the rounds in the main part of my home.  The other radios in the basement are waiting their moment of glory.  The radio above is an SX-130 that I picked up, in excellent working condition, for $80.

Note: When I look around the internet, it seems that my basement full of radios is nothing compared to some other folks that I stumbled upon.  So, its good that folks are keeping these radios, repairing them, learning from them, using them, and keeping them alive to pass on to future generations.  Don’t forget to check out the links at the end of this posting.

We have a few postings on this site dedicated to older Heathkits (here) and Kenwood Ham Radios (here).  This one is on Hallicrafters.

The history of people, not things

Hallicrafters, like other radio manufacturers, has a story.  And please realize, that the story of radio is really the story of the people who made this all possible.  It’s about people who have a passion, take risks, build companies, and make something for the world.

The story of Hallicrafters is the story of Bill Halligan –

Hallicrafters – Young Engineer does good…

William (Bill) J. Halligan, founder of Hallicrafters, was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1899.  He got his first ham license as a teenager.  Even at that age he considered himself a radio experimenter and built an early spark-gap transmitter.  Bill’s first job, at age 16, was as a wireless operator on excursion ships between Boston and other coastal cities.  

When World War I began, he put his skills to good use by serving his country as a wireless radio operator on the battleship Illinois.  After the war was over he attended engineering school at Tufts College and West Point, but left when he married in 1922.  He took a job as a newspaper reporter, and then left journalism in 1924 to sell radio parts.  In 1928 he decided to start his own company, and moved to Chicago, Illinois.  This salesman had ideas for improving the short-wave radios he had been selling. It was a brave venture, with almost no capital, manufacturing license problems and then the depression, but in 1933 Bill founded the Hallicrafters company that made him a legend. 

Hallicrafters built handcrafted receivers with state-of-the-art features at an affordable price.  By 1938, Hallicrafters was considered one of the “Big Three” manufacturers of amateur receivers (Hallicrafters, National and Hammarlund) and was selling not only in the U.S. but 89 other countries.  He had 23 different models of transceivers and was ready to start producing transmitters, beginning with the HT-1.  Instead of putting a lot into expensive cabinets, Halligan believed in providing every nickel’s worth into the performance of the chassis and the latest in circuit design.  His greatest salesmen were those who used his equipment and praised it to others over the air.

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Written by frrl

October 9, 2010 at 4:05 am

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