THE SOCIETY OF WIRELESS PIONEERS ARCHIVE
KPH Operators and Staff, 1920
Photo restored by Phil Krejci
Standing (L to R): Ray Walling (1275-SGP), John Parachini, Don Goodger
Seated (L to R): Cecil Bailey, Gavin Burns, George Renish, Slim LaViolette
Nikola Tesla in his “The Transmission of Electric Energy Without Wires” from 1904 predicts that in light of the revolutionary new system he developed in Colorado “humanity will be like an antheap stirred up with a stick: See the excitement coming!” From a reprint by SoWP member E.J. Quinby.
Early SF wireless pioneer and later Presidential Adviser Haraden Pratt on the origins of the “Beach Station” and KPH, on guarding the station with a six-shooter, and a unique method for adjusting the resistance of a power rheostat. Radio history at its richest…
New photos – Shipboard Telefunken radio equipment circa 1920, Ed Raser, 35-P, W2ZI, and Dodge’s Radio Institute
Member applications – Gordon Pascoe, 33-P on replacing a radio operator executed by order of Pancho Villa, Ed Raser, 35-P on sparks and coherer and amateur radio at the age of 9, and Lee Fassett, 37-SGP on the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, Earl Korf, 613-P bringing Jimmy Doolittle home from his Tokyo raid, Ken Botte, 620-PA on melting down lead and sulfur to make crystal detectors (better than rummaging through the coal bin)…
New Marconiana – Including original research papers by Guglielmo Marconi on his new magnetic detector and on night-time radio propagation, and a new photo of Marconi equipment restored by Lincoln Cundall of the AWA
From Jack Phillips to Olexander Lango, these radio operators lost their lives protecting the lives of others. See the Veteran Wireless Operators Memorial in Battery Park, New York. Reprinted by kind permission of the Veteran Wireless Operators Association.
Long before MARS, there were US Army Amateur Radio Stations. Don Haskell, 3437-P recalls his experiences with AARS in the 1930s, and shares his certificate and lists of the many Army Z-codes then in use.
Undated map showing locations, call letters, and frequencies for RCA coastal stations
Speaking of Don Haig, his watercolor illustration of the radio room of the SS Powhatan in 1915 is featured in a greeting card from Society president William Breniman
No, a “Radio Tractor Unit” couldn’t plow any fields. Instead, it was an early way by which the US Army Signal Corps gathered signal intelligence. We have a photo of Dick Egolf, 71-SGP, listening in in one around 1918.
On anchor gaps, “De-tuners” and the history of the United Wireless Telegraph Company by Thorn Mayes, reprinted by permission of the Antique Wireless Association
Read the biography of Fessenden assistant and Radiomarine Corporation of America President Charles J. Pannill. It appears to be in error, though, regarding his having the very first Certificate of Skill and first commercial radiotelegraph license.
Veteran Wireless Operators Association (VWOA) – A 1932 VWOA yearbook was recently found in the SoWP archives. This organization dates from 1925 and is still active today. Many SoWP members also belonged to VWOA. Courtesy of VWOA, we’ve uploaded portraits of pioneers C.B. Cooper and George H. Clark, stories of early female brasspounders Anna Nevins and Lena Michelsen, and biographies of VWOA life members including Frederick Kolster, David Sarnoff, C.J. Pannill, and Elmer Bucher. For much more information, visit the VWOA website (VWOA.org).
Forget Sennheisers! What the discriminating wireless operator needed for his or her listening enjoyment was a Brandes “matched tone” headset. View the 1916 Brandes catalog here.
Hugo Gernsback’s “The Evolution of Radio“, from the Electro Importing Company to millimeter waves and radio on the moon! Courtesy of the Proceedings of the Radio Club of America
1920 Simon Radio Catalog – Emil J Simon says that modern-day radios are so different from early ones that Marconi would barely recognize them (?). It would be foolish to buy from a company just because it was first. Simon offers best price and performance, and equipped the US and French military in WWI. Close-ups of some of their sets are shown here.
More Marconiana – Photos of the Poldhu station, history of the South Wellfleet station, and more
Letters – Bill Breniman on unions, and George Meister on hearing loss and a disaster at sea
PAA Mackay Radiogram – Boarded your Pan Am Clipper flight and realized you needed to send a radiogram? Use this form.
Bolinas – Documents related to and photos of Marconi’s High Power Station at Bolinas, CA (with receiving station at Marshall, CA) being constructed in 1913. Find out what the “Hotel de Gink” was…
New Photos – KPH, first trans-Pacific “phone” call, more…
“Nowadays” Cartoon – Who’s more important, the Captain or the Marconi man?
JJ Fahie on Marconi’s Method – How does the Marconi system work? Is Nikola Tesla about to introduce a wireless telegraph system that will “stagger humanity”? Find out in this 1902 book extract.
We offer a tribute to Benjamin Beckerman (1886-1975), DeForest pioneer, longtime maritime radio operator (and mentor to many), and union president. See his Certificate of Skill, other certificates, and roles in saving lives. See his photos with Dr. DeForest and other notables, and at the Wireless Operators Memorial in Battery Park, NY. Also, his poem dedicated to those who went down to the sea at the telegraph key.
SS Frank H Buck – Run aground near Pacific Grove, California on May 3, 1924, sailors “could walk ashore without getting their feet wet”
Early Wireless Downunder – In 1924 SoWP member Charles Biele, 768-P, travelled to Australia and New Zealand as radio operator aboard the Tredinnick. While there, he DX’d KGO, got a list of local stations and their callsigns, and picked up Australian and New Zealand radio periodicals that provide a fascinating glimpse of early broadcast enthusiast excitement and amateur operator fears. Check these out and just try to get “Waltzing Mathilda” out of your head!
New Marconiana – Tour Marconi House London in 1912 and read why a scantily clad lady sits atop a ship’s aerial. (No, the sailors did not chase her up there.) From The Marconigraph.
World Wireless Beacon Spring 2005 – Waldo Boyd on winding down the Society of Wireless Pioneers and more. Issue donated by Dr. Hessel Kooistra, 3345-M
Donald deNeuf Member Application – Society President, well known ham radio enthusiast, writer, and fixture at the old Press Wireless. Read about his career here.
Three Wireless Pioneers Walk into a Bar – A photo of oldtimers Jack Irwin, Howard Cookson, and Les Byrne at a San Francisco watering hole in 1955 leads to history and adventure
The Kinsley Report: Wireless Telegraph Behavior in San Francisco in 1900 – Physicist, engineer, and inventor Carl Kinsley presumably set up the first wireless radiotelegraph link on the Pacific Coast, communicating between Fort Mason and Fort Alcatraz for the Army Signal Corps in 1900. See his biography and report, documents, letters relating thereto, and photos that you won’t find anywhere else
For the King’s Cup – It’s radio operator versus radio operator as they use every trick in the book and then some to give their yachts any slight advantage in the race across the Atlantic for the 1928 King’s Cup. True story by Kenneth Upton, 512-P.
Breniman Autobiography – The life and times of Society of Wireless Pioneers founder William A. Breniman, written at the age of 91
A Romp Through the SoWP Archives – CHRS deputy archivist Bob Rydzewski’s presentation to the California Historical Radio Society on December 15, 2018, now available on video. And remember, if you throw tomatoes at the screen you will only be hurting yourself!
“Hero” by Mario Spagna – Adventure and romance in the days when the way to a girl’s heart was through the wireless set. Well-written original fiction by SoWP member Mario Spagna, 67-SGP
More Marconiana – Photos of Marconi and his Babylon, Long Island station taken from lantern slides. See the paper tape pileup! Other photos of Marconi equipment plus rare documents.
Many New Photos! – Rare Annaka receivers and tubes, many photos of DeForest and DeForest wireless equipment, Zenith co-founder RHG Mathews in New Guinea, stations NAI Philadelphia, OHX New York, and more
New Watercolors – Radio room watercolors by SoWP member J. Donald Haig, 1836-SGP
1920 Annaka Radiotelegraph Catalog – Long before there was Sony, another Tokyo company was producing fine radio receivers, transmitters, and even their own vacuum tubes. Bet you’ll never find their catalog anywhere else…
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