The AWA Review, Vol. 34

2021 Review Editor’s Forward

Once again we are fortunate to have many interesting, well-written and well- researched articles recounting various events, adventures, people, companies, inventions, and milestones in the history of electronic communication. Below is a brief summary of each of the articles in the order that they appear.

  • Chuck Penson presents a history of electronic kits in the United States. Heath was the largest and most successful purveyor of kits in the history of electron- ics. However there were many other players, before, during, and after Heath. His paper presents a brief history of electronic kits chronologically with many important milestones noted for reference. Perhaps we can all reminisce about our early days when we built kits.
  • Donna Halper presents an historical account about the important role that amateur radio operators played in early commercial broadcasting. This was partly because the amateurs knew how to build their own radio sets, which was an essential skill in that era before radio receivers were mass-produced and avail- able in department stores. Amateurs were also the ones who told their family and friends about radio. Thus, it makes sense for the amateurs to be included in the history of broadcasting, especially since the development of commercial radio is often told as the story of a new technology. The inventors and engineers working for innovative companies designed, manufactured, and subsequently improved upon the apparatus that made broadcasting possible.
  • John Okolowicz tells us about the phenomena of industrial design and the design of things manufactured on an assembly line as applied to radios. Prior to the design era was the era of handcrafted items designed and created by individual artisans. Early mass-produced radios tended to be crude and visually gaudy, but most consumers didn’t mind because it was the latest technology. In fact, they were delighted that this high-tech equipment was available at reasonable prices and offered benefits that never existed before. This was soon followed by artistic and attractive case and cabinet designs suitable for use in the living spaces.
  • David and Julia Bart have written an article to mark the 160th anniversary of the 1861 completion of the transcontinental telegraph in the United States. The authors explore the strategic wars that were fought over this new electric communication line. Both the Mormon and Native American experiences reflect positive and even enthusiastic support for building the transcontinental telegraph; he explains how their views diverged as the new technology spurred further settlement, which was used to help secure the frontier. These wars, previously thought to be somewhat randomly executed, reflected specific strategic choices applied over a wide-ranging, harsh environment where brutal methods of warfare became the norm. Critically, they reflect a keen awareness by contemporary players about the importance of the transcontinental telegraph and its implications for controlling America’s western territories.
  • Mike Molnar describes the development of the FM system of radio as spearheaded by its inventor, Edwin Howard Armstrong. The FM system was shown to have some advantages over the AM system. Armstrong fought many long legal battles with big companies and their lawsuits, as the AM system was already established and many saw FM as a competitor. The fight was enough to drive anyone to lose control of their right mind. Molnar also describes the circuit workings of early FM radio receivers and FM convertors that were built.
  • Michael Marinaro presents a rendition of the circumstances, events, and radio stations that brought the phenomena of wireless communications to World War I, or The Great War as it was called then. The genius of the Italian inven- tor Guglielmo Marconi was to be challenged with the need for ever-increased communications range as the world was on the verge of a series of wars, which were the prelude to the big one: The War to End All Wars. These smaller wars were the first in which innovative weapons such as wireless were utilized. In an addendum, a story is told about the American communications expert Allesan- dro Fabbri and the radio station he established at Otter Cliffs, Maine, upon the United States involvement in World War I.
  • Eric Wenaas gives an account of the wireless experiments of Sir Oliver Lodge. Lodge established a remarkable reputation during the last decade of the 19th century when the scientific community credited him with the development of several primary inventions that are the basis of radiotelegraphy. Historians of the 20th century were kind to Lodge in their accounts of his work. It has become increasingly clear in publications in the last 20 years that Lodge claimed credit for more than he actually accomplished in the last two decades of the 19th century. There have been assertions that Lodge rewrote the history of his major accomplishments, most notably in his autobiography. Indeed, convincing evidence has been published to support the contention that he did not discover the coherer principle or invent radiotelegraphy by being the first to transmit telegraphic messages using Hertzian waves. There is also ample evidence that Lodge knowingly altered the details of his experiments to sup- port his false claims.

We thank all of our authors for sharing their work with us. I personally thank each one of them for the cordial interactions we have had while preparing the manuscripts. I also want to thank our associate editor, Eric Wenaas, and our peer reviewers who have worked so hard and given so much time to review and edit these papers. Finally, I would like to thank Fiona Raven for the wonderful article layouts that we have come to expect each year—and especially for the original layouts on the covers of the AWA Review. Fiona’s professional and creative work never ceases to amaze, and she makes all our authors look great.

Several years ago, the AWA created the Robert P. Murray Award in honor of Robert Murray, long-time AWA Review editor, and now Editor Emeritus, for excellence in writing in the AWA Review. The third award was presented virtually at the AWA Conference in Rochester in 2020 to David and Julia Bart. Congratulations to David and Julia for a job well done; we know they will continue to write high quality articles in the future.

This is my second year as editor. I have greatly enjoyed this assignment and look forward to editing future editions. I hope my effort meets or exceeds the quality you have come to expect. My professional background as a systems engineer in major high-tech companies developing military weapons systems has well prepared me to pay attention to the detail needed and to meet the workload and scheduling requirements. My life-long amateur radio hobby and interest in all things electronic has provided a deep and yet broad background in radio communications and electronics of all kinds.

Tim Martin, WB2VVQ

Editor, AWA Review

Lee, MA

Below is the Table of Contents for this issue.

Table of Contents

FOREWORD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iv

A BRIEF AND INCOMPLETE HISTORY OF KITS: A HEATH-CENTRIC PERSPECTIVE

Chuck Penson……………………………………………………………………….. 1

NAVIGATING TWO WORLDS: THE AMATEURS AND THE STORY OF COMMERCIAL BROADCASTING

Donna L. Halper, Ph.D…………………………………………………………… 51

INDUSTRIAL DESIGNERS: MAKING RADIOS SEXY

John Okolowicz…………………………………………………………………….. 75

TELEGRAPH WARS: MORMONS, NATIVE AMERICANS, AND THE TRANS- CONTINENTAL TELEGRAPH

David and Julia Bart…………………………………………………………….. 125

HISTORY OF FM RADIO: 1940s TO 1960s

Michael Molnar………………………………………………………………….. 185

PRELUDE TO ARMAGEDDON: WIRELESS SUPER STATIONS AND IMPERIALISM

Michael Marinaro……………………………………………………………….. 237

OLIVER LODGE’S CONTRIBUTION TO THE DISCOVERY OF ELECTROMAGNETIC RADIATION

Eric Wenaas………………………………………………………………………. 269

LETTER TO THE EDITOR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 343