Vintage Radio

Late 1920s Atwater Kent Littlestove radio
Credit Paul Litwinovich

In this occasional series, WSHU Chief Engineer Paul Litwinovich explores aspects of vintage radio. The subjects will range from the radio sets themselves to the people and technology that made it all possible. He'll talk about collecting, dating, and restoring these relics of yesteryear. Each article features a different vintage set with information about its place in the development of the electronic age. Some of the sets featured are from his own collection. 

Comments and questions are welcome at paull@wshu.org

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.

Engineering and Technology History Wiki

In writing articles about vintage radio, I try to alternate between the technological and the people who made the technology possible. Occasionally, I just feature an interesting radio and the story behind it. This month we will take a look at Professor Louis Alan Hazeltine.

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