vintage radio

P. Litwinovich collection

In bygone days, before all of the computerized wonders of modern technology, one of the favorite gifts that one could receive during the holiday season was a shiny new radio. The recipient's age was of no matter, it could be a bright red Catalin table radio for grandma, a Snow White radio for little Susie, or a Lone Ranger set for little Johnny.

Library of Congress

Quite a while back, I wrote Making Pictures Fly Through the Air, Part 1, which dealt with the development of a mechanical form of television. Starting with a concept designed by German engineering student Paul Nipkow long before radio itself, and later adapted for the airwaves by John Logie Baird and others.

Last month we looked at contributions to the art made by amateur operators, in particular advancements in Amplitude Modulation, or AM, and how it came to give radio its voice. This month, we will look a little deeper into AM, its history, how it works, the corporate politics at its heyday and where it is going.

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Last month we looked at Marconi and his pioneering work in the advancement of wireless communications. In the early days of radio, prior to government regulation, anyone with the knowledge could build a transmitter and go on the air. Even after the first attempts at regulation, one could still do this, the only rules being a mandate to yield to commercial traffic and to remain silent for a five minute period at the top of the hour to allow for distress traffic from ships at sea.

Wikipedia

It is December, and for any die-hard radio enthusiast that brings Guglielmo Marconi to mind. It was on Dec. 12, 1901 that Marconi claims to have received the first transatlantic Morse code transmission. I can envision the hairs bristling on the necks of Marconi fans already. Most articles that I write in this column are not controversial. None the less, there are a few subjects that will stir up some hot debate, mostly over who invented what, or who came up with the concept first.

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