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Engineering Radio

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For those interested the technical aspects of Radio… and the really big stuff of commercial broadcast transmitters… and radio history … and some editorial comments thrown in for good measure… then this is a heck of a good find… and a tremendous effort by Paul Thurst…

Check out this web site – http://www.engineeringradio.us/blog/

Written by frrl

February 3, 2012 at 7:44 pm

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

The invention of FM Radio and the power to stifle the effect of technological change

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If you take a read of the book Free Culture (get the PDF for free) you will find the story from the early days of radio. 

It’s the story of the invention of FM radio in 1933 by Edwin Howard Armstrong and how this new (superior in audio quality) technology challenged the dominant technology (AM modulation) and the dominant corporation in the marketplace – RCA (Radio Corporation of America)

AM radio technology was at the heart of RCA Corporation and RCA saw FM as a threat.  RCA used its power to influence the government to its cause to undermine this new technology – FM Modulation of a radio wave.

RCA began to use its power with the government to stall FM radio’s deployment generally. In 1936, RCA hired the former head of the FCC and assigned him the task of assuring that the FCC assign spectrum in a way that would castrate FM—principally by moving FM radio to a different band of spectrum. At first, these efforts failed. But when Armstrong and the nation were distracted by World War II, RCA’s work began to be more successful. Soon after the war ended, the FCC announced a set of policies that would have one clear effect: FM radio would be crippled.

In the end, this was the tragic result

Armstrong resisted RCA’s efforts. In response, RCA resisted Armstrong’s patents. After incorporating FM technology into the emerging standard for television, RCA declared the patents invalid—baselessly, and almost fifteen years after they were issued. It thus refused to pay him royalties. For six years, Armstrong fought an expensive war of litigation to defend the patents. Finally, just as the patents expired, RCA offered a settlement so low that it would not even cover Armstrong’s lawyers’ fees. Defeated, broken, and now broke, in 1954 Armstrong wrote a short note to his wife and then stepped out of a thirteenthstory window to his death.

The insight

This is how the law sometimes works.  Not often this tragically, and rarely with heroic drama, but sometimes, this is how it works.  From the beginning, government and government agencies have been subject to capture. They are more likely captured when a powerful interest is threatened by either a legal or technical change. That powerful interest too often exerts its influence within the government to get the government to protect it. The rhetoric of this protection is of course always public spirited; the reality is something different.  Ideas that were as solid as rock in one age, but that, left to themselves, would crumble in another, are sustained through this subtle corruption of our political process. RCA had what the Causbys did not: the power to stifle the effect of technological change.

Here is the full text of the story from the Introduction of the book Free Culture: how Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity by Larry Lessig

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Written by frrl

July 13, 2010 at 11:42 am

Morse Code is not dead; Back in style by Russian Spies in 2010

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For Amateur Radio license requirements the FCC dropped the Morse Code requirement years ago.  There is no current military use of Morse code.

Just when you thought that Morse Code was dead.  The Russian spies, recently arrested in the US, are keeping the The Code  alive.

10 Russian Spies Arrested in the US (6/29/2010)

According to CBS news

According to court papers in the case, the U.S. government intercepted a message from Russian intelligence headquarters in Moscow to two of the defendants. The message states that their main mission is “to search and develop ties in policymaking circles in US” and send intelligence reports.

The complaint alleges that some of those charged had a long-term goal to become “sufficiently Americanized” in order to gather intelligence in the U.S. and to “recruit sources who are in, or are able to infiltrate, United States policy-making circles.”

The complaint says that the “agents” were trained in “foreign languages; agent-to-agent communications, including the use of brush-passes; short-wave radio operation and invisible writing; the use of codes and ciphers, including the use of encrypted Morse code messages; the creation and use of a cover profession; counter-surveillance measures” and more.

Good, the code is back in style

Check out this vintage military morse code training film –
https://frrl.wordpress.com/2009/10/27/learn-morse-code-the-military-way/

Related

Check out this related info on high speed CW

The R-353 is a Russian spy radio set developed and used at the height of the Cold War, in the early 1960s. It features an advanced built-in burst encoder for sending coded messages in morse code at very high speed, in order to minimise the risk of detection by enemy interceptors and eavesdroppers. Radios like the R-353 are very rare and only very few have survived.

http://www.cryptomuseum.com/spy/r353/index.htm

Check out this great site on Shortwave Espinionage –
http://www.simonmason.karoo.net/page30.html

Written by frrl

June 29, 2010 at 3:49 pm

The History of Communications – the past 150 years

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The Pew Internet Project has put together a retrospective of the past 150 years of communications. 

You can find a link to the full paper (24 pages) at the end of this posting.

In addition to the historical facts, this paper includes some interesting predictions made in the historical context in which these communications inventions emerged.

Here are a few predictions about radio from the time:

Sir William Thomson, later Lord Kelvin, a Scottish mathematician and physicist, is quoted as saying in 1897:

Radio has no future.

According to a report in Dunlap’s Radio and Television Almanac, Sir John Wolfe-Barry remarked at a meeting of stockholders of the Western Telegraph Company in 1907:

…As far as I can judge, I do not look upon any system of wireless telegraphy as a serious competitor with our cables. Some years ago I said the same thing and nothing has since occurred to alter my views.

A June 1920 article in Electrical Experimenter titled “Newsophone to Supplant Newspapers” reported on an idea for a news service delivered via recorded telephone messages and also predicted the:

 radio distribution of news by central news agencies in the larger cities to thousands of radio stations in all parts of the world” leading to a time when “anyone can simply listen in on their pocket wireless set.

H.G. Wells wrote in “The Way the World is Going” in 1925: 

I have anticipated radio’s complete disappearance…confident that the unfortunate people, who must now subdue themselves to listening in, will soon find a better pastime for their leisure.

In 1913 Lee de Forest, inventor of the audion tube, a device that makes radio broadcasting possible, was brought to trial on charges of fraudulently using the U.S. mails to sell the public stock in the Radio Telephone Company. In the court proceedings, the district attorney charged that:

De Forest has said in many newspapers and over his signature that it would be possible to transmit human voice across the Atlantic before many years. Based on these absurd and deliberately misleading statements, the misguided public…has been persuaded to purchase stock in his company…

De Forest was acquitted, but the judge advised him

to get a common garden-variety of job and stick to it.

Here is the full paper –
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Written by frrl

June 14, 2010 at 4:44 am

German World War II Military Radios w/ Demonstrations & The History of Nazi Television Broadcasting

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The Torn.E.b was a workhorse of the German armed forces under Adolf Hitler. It was a very basic, 4-tube regenerative receiver. This example is completely unaltered from the time it was made 66 years ago. 7 out of 8 of the frequency ranges were perfectly tuned, while the other range was just slightly out of tune. I just had to replace one vacuum tube in the receiver to get it working.

German WWII Kriegsmarine Military (Naval) Radio Receiver Lo6K39a in Operation
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9J_RHRwS0o

German Wehrmacht Military WWII Radio Receiver Kw.E.a after restoration part 2 – operation
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k2ktcPwFV1U

German Wehrmacht Military WWII Radio Receiver Kw.E.a after restoration – physical description
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55T8PA2KO6s

Documentary on the history of Nazi Television Broadcasting

This is the link to the first of six parts.  You can easily find the rest of the parts of you are interested
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84yH4AF-jf4&feature=related

Written by frrl

April 24, 2010 at 5:49 pm

Radio Archeology – The Radio Experimenters Guide – 1923

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More radio archeology… a small pamphlet from 1923

The information compiled in these pages is based on material already published in the Radio Section of the Newark Sunday Call, which has gained a wide reputation among amateur experimenters for the accuracy of its data on radio construction.

The hook-up presented herein are therefore reliable.  Each one has been constructed and tested in the Sunday Call’s Radio Laboratory.  This is a policy which the Call has followed for two years in order to protect its readers from the waste of time, material and money on “trick circuits”.

In this booklet will also be found a complete list of the broadcasting stations of the world corrected to Novemver, 1923, a complete operating schedule of the broadcasting stations in the Metropolitan District, and a list of sloagans used by broadcasters

You can even find out how to “Radioize Your Home”

Take a read – Radio Experimenters Guide from 1923
https://frrl.files.wordpress.com/2009/02/radio_experimenters_guide_newarksundaycall_1923.pdf

Written by frrl

April 2, 2010 at 5:54 pm

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