1934 – 1959 – The Club Continues
The year 1934 was indeed one of great importance to the Radio Club for it marked the twenty-fifth year of its existence. Just twenty-five years ago that small group of young boys met in the Ansonia Hotel and founded what is now the oldest Radio Club in continued existence on record. This of course called for a celebration and the President appointed a special 25th Anniversary Committee to make suitable arrangements. As a result the Silver Anniversary Year Book was published. It contained a complete history of the Club from 1909 to 1934, a list of all papers read before its members during that time, autobiographies of all the members, photographs of all the past presidents, articles by prominent members and a Preface written by one of the founding members George Eltz Jr which will bear repetition here. Some fifteen hundred copies of the Silver book were printed and it was well received by the radio press as is evidenced by the clippings shown herewith. The cover design which was drawn in black on a solid silver background made a striking combination.
For some time members of the Club had been carefully considering the proper way to honor Major Armstrong for his many great achievements in the Radio Art, as well as his interest and faithfulness to the Radio Club of America. In December of 1935 Larry Horle conceived the idea of creating a medal to be awarded from time to time to a member who had done outstanding work in the radio field, and to be known as The Armstrong Medal. He discussed his idea with Harry Sadenwater and George Burghard. They heartily agreed with him and proposed bringing the matter to the attention of Ralph Langley, the President of the club. At his suggestion a resolution was drawn up dedicating the medal to Edwin H. Armstrong and providing for the presentation of an engrossed scroll evidencing this fact, to the Major at the reading of his paper on Frequency Modulation before the club on December 19th, 1935. This course needed the approval of the Board of Directors and as time was very short all the directors were contacted by phone and their approval received. The scroll was duly prepared and presented to Major Armstrong at a special meeting held in Pupin Hall, Columbia University on Thursday December 19th, 1935. The paper was titled “A new Method of Reducing the Effect of disturbances in Radio Signalling by Frequency Modulation” and attended by an overflow crowd. The Major was taken completely by surprise and thanked the club profusely for the honor bestowed upon him. The scroll which was beautifully engrossed in colors unfortunately was not ready on the night of the meeting so the President presented Armstrong with a copy of the text and the real scroll duly signed by the officers and Directors was delivered to him informally later in the year. A facsimile of scroll is shown on page 68.
It now became necessary to produce the actual medals and President Langley appointed Harry Sadenwater and George Burghard a committee of two to take immediate action. To make a long story short; the medal was designed in Camden N. J. by Messers. Vassos, Stevenson and J. P. Barnes and the sculptor was Harry Straubel. First a master was made in bronze and then a mould was made from it and the medals cast in solid silver from the mould. Thirteen medals were made in all, at a cost of $336.00. One finished medal was given to each of the designers as per agreement, for their services. The remaining ten were retained by the club together with the master. The mould was then destroyed. To date ten medals have been awarded and for the sake of the record the presentation dates and the names of the recipients are listed below:
1937 Professor Alan Hazeltine
1938 Dr. Harold H. Beverage
1940 Greenleaf Whittier Pickard
1941 Harry W. Houck
1945 Carman Randolph Runyon Jr.
1946 Charles Stuart Ballantine
1947 John V. L. Hogan
1950 Ernest V. Amy
1950 Edwin H. Armstrong
1950 George E. Burghard
1950 Monton Cronkhite
1950 Paul F. Godley
1950 John F. Grinan
1950 Walter P. Inman
1952 Captain Henry J. Round
1953 Raymond A. Heising
1956 Melville Eastham
In view of the fact that the last of the ten Medals was presented in 1956, the Medal Committee was instructed by the Board of Directors to proceed with a new mould from the Master, and casting a new supply of Armstrong Medals for future use.
It will be noted from the above that an Armstrong Medal was not awarded every year. This is because it is given in accordance with the condition and requirements formulated in the establishment of this honor by the Board of Directors of the Club. Quoting from the Scroll: The Radio Club this day hereby establishes an award to be known as the “Armstrong Medal,” to be bestowed by the Board of Directors of The Radio Club of America upon any person within its membership who shall have made, in the opinion of the Board of Directors, and within the spirit of the Club, an important contribution to the Radio Art and Science.”
Although it was the original intention of the Directors to hold banquets annually as anniversary celebrations, nevertheless the depression of 1929 somewhat upset the schedule. There were no banquets held until the 27th Anniversary in 1936.
In 1937, the Board of Directors decided to present the first Armstrong Medal to Professor Hazeltine for his great contributions to the Radio Art.
This was indeed a special occasion and the presentation was made at the twenty-eighth anniversary Banquet held at the Engineers Club New York City on October 29th, 1937. About two hundred members and their guests enjoyed the proceedings and Professor Hazeltine’s gracious acceptance, in the true Radio Club spirit.
From this day on the Banquets were held quite regularly in the Fall or Winter of each year. A complete list of the Anniversary Dinners follows:
Radio club Banquets
1936 27th Anniversary Banquet held at the Engineers Club N. Y. C. October 29th. Toastmaster, Thomas Styles.
1937 28th Anniversary Banquet held at the Engineers Club N. Y. C. October 29th. First Armstrong Medal to Alan Hazeltine.
1938 29th Anniversary Banquet held at the Engineers Club N. Y. C. November 4th. Guest of Honor Egbert Von Lepel. Armstrong Medal to Dr. Harold H. Beverage.
1939 30th Anniversary Banquet held at the Engineers Club N. Y. C. November 29th. Guest Speaker Lenox R. Lohr.
1940 31st Anniversary Banquet held at the Engineers Club N. Y. C. November 1st. Guest Speakers Major General J. O. Mauborgne, Brigadier General Dawson Olmstead. Armstrong Medal to Greenleaf Whittier Pickard.
1941 32nd Anniversary Banquet held at the Engineers Club N. Y. C. October 31st. Guest Speaker Rear-Admiral S. C. Hooper. Armstrong Medal to Harry W. Houck.
1942 33rd Anniversary Banquet held at the Engineers Club N. Y. C. November 20th.
1943 34th Anniversary Banquet held at the Engineers Club N. Y. C. December 10th Master of Ceremonies George E. Burghard.
1944 35th Anniversary Banquet held at the Engineers Club N. Y. C. December 1st. Guest Speaker Captain F. R. Furth U. S. N.
1945 37th Anniversary Banquet held at the Engineers Club N. Y. C. December 7th. Guest of Honor Captain Pierre H. Boucheron U. S. N. Armstrong Medal to C. R. Runyon Jr.
1947 38th Anniversary Banquet held at the Engineers Club N. Y. C. December 5th. Guest Speaker Major General William J. Donovan. Armstrong Medal to John V. L. Hogan and Stuart Ballantine.
1948 39th Anniversary Banquet held at the Advertising Club N. Y. C. December 9th. Special Program Honoring Station 1BCG. Armstrong, Amy, Burghard, Cronkhite, Godley, Grinan, and Inman.
1949 40th Anniversary Banquet held at the Advertising Club N. Y. C. December 2nd. Guest of Honor Major General Harry C. Ingles.
1950 41st Anniversary Banquet held at the Advertising Club N. Y. C. December 1st. Guest of Honor Rear Admiral J. R. Redmond U. S. N.
1951 42nd Anniversary Banquet held at the Advertising Club N. Y. C. December 4th. Guest of Honor Dr. Millard C. Faught, A.B., Ph.D.
1952 43rd Anniversary Banquet held at the Advertising Club N. Y. C. Guest Speaker Captain L. V. Berkner, U. S. N. R. Armstrong Medal to Captain Henry J. Round.
1953 44th Anniversary Banquet held at the Columbia University Club N. Y. C. December 11th. Armstrong Medal to Raymond A. Heising.
1954 45th Anniversary Banquet held at the Columbia University Club N. Y. C. December 10th. Guest Speaker General George L. Van Deusen.
1955 46th Anniversary Banquet held at the Columbia University Club N. Y. C. December 9th. Guest Speaker Dr. John R. Dunning.
1956 47th Anniversary Banquet held at the Columbia University Club N. Y. C. December 15th. Guest Speaker Dr. Kenneth L. Franklin. Armstrong Medal to Melville Eastham.
1957 48th Anniversary Banquet held at the Columbia University Club N. Y. C. December 6th. Guest Speaker Robert B. Stecker.
1958 49th Anniversary Banquet held at the Columbia University Club N. Y. C. December 5th. Guest speaker William R. Hutchins.
Note: No Banquet was held in 1946.
In 1938 the second Armstrong Medal was awarded to Dr. Harold H. Beverage, for his outstanding work on Wave Antennae. The presentation was made at the 29th Anniversary Banquet held at the Engineers Club on November 4th.
Since Armstrong’s disclosure of his new system of Frequency Modulation in 1935 before the Institute of Radio Engineers and the Radio Club of America great interest was aroused in the Radio world and the public hailed the invention as a means of eliminating static in broadcast reception. He read a paper titled “Frequency Modulation in Radio Broadcasting” on March 23rd, 1939 before the Radio Club during which he gave some very revealing demonstrations. He showed that the power at the transmitting station could be reduced to an absolute minimum without affecting the quality of the received program or increasing the extraneous noises or static. A very comprehensive article appeared in the New York Times the next morning, commenting on the paper and the importance of various tests made with the 20 kilowatt station erected by Major Armstrong at Alpine New Jersey and the 600 watt station of C. R. Runyon located at Yonkers New York.
January 23rd, 1939 saw the thirtieth anniversary of the sending of the first radio distress call at sea. It was sent by one of our distinguished members Jack Binns who was the wireless operator on the illfated liner Republic. He sent the now famous signal “CQD” which was the distress call of that time, and brought immediate aid thus avoiding a great disaster and making himself the hero of the hour.
Greenleaf Whittier Pickard was the recipient of the Armstrong Medal award in 1940 at the annual Banquet on November 1st. The event was very ably reported in the October Proceedings under the heading “Club News,” and we quote:
“The Annual Banquet of the Club took place on November 1st at the Engineers Club in New York. The usual spirit of gaiety and reminiscence prevailed, and there were numerous amusing anecdotes and personal references.
“Following the dinner, President Henney presented the Armstrong Medal to Greenleaf Whittier Pickard of Seabrook Branch, New Hampshire. Mr. Henney, and also other speakers later, referred to Pickard’s long professional career starting with work on the Perikon detector, signal generators, field-strength measurements, and other subjects; also mentioned was his distinguished family connection as great nephew of the poet, John Greenleaf Whittier. In his acceptance remarks Pickard included a tribute to the Armstrong name, adding humorously that the Armstrong coin has heads on both sides, so you can’t lose.
“President Henney then introduced Major Armstrong, who acted as toastmaster. The Major said a few words including the mention of a publication on the use of the wave meter, which was written in the early days—he had found this very interesting at the time. He then introduced the author, our speaker of the evening, now Major General J. O. Mauborgne, Chief Signal Officer of the Army.
“In his address, General Mauborgne described conditions in the Signal Corps at our entry into the last war, and compared them with the much better situation prevailing at the present time. At that period, we had practically no apparatus, practically no designs, and practically no knowledge of desired types of equipment; about all we could do was to rush into production of Chinese copies of French and British apparatus. In all these respects of equipment, manufacture, design, and plans, our situation at the present time is far better.
“General Mauborgne pointed out particularly that the Signal Corps is ready to consider operable apparatus which is in shape for further development to adapt it to the needs of the service. In distinction to this classification, persons with ideas requiring research, should contact a research group, the National Defense Research Committee, which has been formed under the leadership of Vannever Bush. An additional group under the head of C. F. Kettering, the National Inventors Council, has been formed to consider inventions submitted from any source. These research and invention groups are ready to consider all ideas submitted, and in addition will endeavor to have research project undertaken, and inventions made, in compliance with specific requests from the military service.
“In connection with developments made in the Signal Corps, General Mauborgne mentioned the necessity of terminating the work at possibly 80 or 85 percent of the desired extent, in order to get manufacture of apparatus started. Even under these circumstances, development work generally takes a year, and the inauguration of manufacture an additional nine months, so that it is almost two years before equipment is received in volume. The situation is more difficult on account of the fact that during quiescent times, little money is available for development work, and during critical periods, there is insufficient time. Sufficient money is available now for considerable development and purchase of signal apparatus, the total appropriation amounting to almost $200,000,000.
“In discussing facsimile, General Mauborgne reported that encouraging results are being obtained. With regard to television, he stated that the requirements are severe, it being desired to see an object the size of an automobile on a dull day by means of a television camera in an airplane at a height of 12,000 feet or more.”
Now World War II was well under way in Europe and it was obvious that we ourselves would soon be involved. Accordingly the Board of Directors at its September 16th, 1940 meeting unanimously adopted a provision that the dues of all members who join any branch of the defense services will be waived throughout their term of duty provided they notify the Treasurer of their service connection.
On October 31st 1941 one of our oldest and most prominent members Harry W. Houck received the Armstrong Medal at the 32nd Anniversary Banquet for his achievements in radio.
More than 130 members and guests attended the banquet and presentation. Major Edwin H. Armstrong, in whose honor the medal was established, gave a brief address following the award. He referred to the wartime days in his laboratory in Paris where Houck assisted him in the development of the first superheterodyne receiver. This was embodied in a large box, very different from the typical small superheterodyne of today. In reminiscing the Major reminded the audience of the difficulties which had to be overcome in making developments in those days. Speaking personally of Harry Houck, he related the true story, already known to various Club members, of how, also in France during the last War, Harry suffered a heavy attack of spinal meningitis, and was being carried out for dead, when he came to sufficiently to say “Where are you taking me?” That question resulted in his being taken back to bed instead of somewhere else, and soon an auspicious recovery began. The guest speaker was Rear-Admiral S. C. Hooper, Director of the Radio Liaison Division, Office of Chief of Naval Operations, Washington, D. C. In his address he pointed out the vast differences in the supply of radio apparatus at the present time in comparison with the wartime days of 1917–18. At that time there were only 12 companies engaged in the manufacture of radio apparatus, prominent among whom were Wireless Improvement, Lowenstein, Simon, and Federal Telegraph. It was then necessary for the Navy to lend considerable financial assistance to its radio suppliers in order to initiate rapid manufacture on a substantial scale. In the matter of apparatus, the changes are even more striking. At that time all transmitters for ships were of the spark type, and all were for single-frequency operation. He mentioned, however, the intense interest in the improvement of the art in those days, and the rapid evolution of inventions, these aspects comparing favorably with present times.
The Black Gang, which had come into notoriety at Club banquets of recent years, was especially noticeable this time, its magnitude having increased to the size of four tables. Here Larry Horle, Ernie Amy, Carl Goudy, Frank King, Dave Brown, and others held forth. They initiated George Burghard as a new member of the Gang. Another member present was Fred Muller, now a Lieutenant-Commander (“2 ½”) in the Navy. However, there was one defection in the ranks of the Black Gang: Paul Ware went high-hat, and sat at the speakers table deserting his fellows.
On December 7th, 1941 the nation was once again plunged into a World conflict. This time as in World War I the entire membership of the Radio Club either joined the armed forcers or acted in prominent positions in the war effort. The Club, however, did not suspend operations but maintained its schedule of meetings, papers, proceedings and banquets, under a somewhat curtailed program. At least seven proceedings were published during the duration of the war from 1941 to 1945. To include here the many and varied activities of the members in the war years would be impossible. It suffices to say that many of them reached high rank in the army, navy and airforce and won acclaim and decorations for their services both in the armed forces and in the industrial war effort. Several also patriotically offered the free use of all their patents to the U. S. Government to help win the war.
After the war was over and things began to get back to normal, the Board of Directors awarded the Armstrong Medal to Carman R. Runyon Jr. for his contributions to the perfection of the Frequency Modulation system. The award was made at the 36th Anniversary Banquet held at the Engineers Club on December 7th, 1945.
As mentioned earlier, the Radio Club was now a full fledged scientific body and its meetings and papers assumed a mature engineering aspect as well. The meetings and social functions attracted not only the public but also the scientific and popular press, as is evidenced by a few selected clippings shown here.
The Armstrong Medal was awarded to Charles Stuart Ballantine in 1945 but unfortunately due to his untimely death the presentation had to be postponed until 1947 when the Medal was accepted posthumously by his close friend Larry Horle, at the 38th Anniversary Banquet on December 5th at the Advertising Club in New York City.
Once again in 1949 the fertile brain of our very good friend Larry Horle was responsible for an important event in the history of the Radio Club. It was Larry who conceived the idea of commemorating the sending of the First Short Wave Transatlantic message from station 1BCG in Greenwich Connecticut on December 11th, 1921 by the erection of a suitable memorial on the site of the original station, and the presentation of awards to the staff. Accordingly President Morelock appointed the 1BCG Memorial Committee to carry out the project in every detail. The Committee had full power to proceed and decided to make the memorial three fold. First; the erect a suitable monument as near to the original site as humanly possible. Second; to present the working staff and Paul Godley with specially struck medallions of the Armstrong Medal in bronze. And lastly to publish a special commemorative issue of the Club Proceedings telling the complete story of station 1BCG and its accomplishments. Contact was made at once with First Selectman Wilbur M. Peck at Greenwich. He was not only receptive but proved to be most enthusiastic about the project and quickly offered and excellent site for the monument on a small square at the intersection of North Street and Clapboard Ridge Road about two hundred feet from the original site of the station. The site was accepted at once and plans were made for the monument itself.
A two ton stone of pure Barre granite was selected and the order was given to Thomas H. Irwin of Old Greenwich to erect it on the chosen site and inscribe on its face the following legend:
Near this spot on December 11, 1921, Radio Station 1BCG sent to Ardrossan, Scotland, the first message ever to span the Atlantic on short waves. 1BCG, an amateur station, was built and operated by members of The Radio Club of America.
The monument was completed in early October. All Greenwich officials were most cooperative and special thanks go to Park Commissioner, Joseph Dietrich who so carefully landscaped the site and supervised the erection of the stone. The medallions were produced under the watchful eye of Harry Houck and also carefully engraved by his own hand. 5000 copies of the “1BCG Commemorative Issue” of the proceedings were printed and ready for distribution at the dedication ceremonies. A copy of this commemorative issue will be sent as a supplement. The date for the dedication ceremonies was set for October 21st, 1950. It was a beautiful fall day with the leaves in full autumn color and a goodly crowd was on hand. All the medallists were there with the exception of Cronkhite, Grinan and Inman, who were in far away places and unable to make the trip. The whole dedication ceremonies were very well reported in a later issue of the Club Proceedings, Vol. 27, No. 3, 1950, and we quote:
“An epoch in the history of radio communications was fittingly commemorated on Saturday, October 21st at Greenwich, Connecticut when The Radio Club of America dedicated a granite memorial to 1BCG, the first radio station to transmit a message across the Atlantic on short waves.
“Club members and others interested in the historic event gathered at the monument site on Clapboard Ridge Road and North Street in beautiful Greenwich, to participate in an excellent program that had been expertly planned by a special committee of the Club. It was truly a beautiful setting for the affair with the Autumn foliage at its brightest and warm sunshine taking the chill from the mid-morning air. The Greenwich High School Band, in its colorful uniforms, entertained with musical selections and there was much reminiscing by old friends who met again for the first time in years as they waited for the ceremonies to get underway.
“Promptly on schedule at 11:00 AM. George E. Burghard, Chairman of the Memorial Committee introduced O. James Morelock, Club president. Mr. Morelock welcomed all present for the occasion and gave a brief history of The Radio Club and the story of 1BCG. He described how the construction of the station, located only a few hundred feet from the monument site, was started in late November 1921 and completed, less than one month later, just in time to participate in the tests that were climaxed by the historic message transmitted to Androssen, Scotland on December 11th. It was this accomplishment by a group of radio amateurs which opened the way for the many commercial communications facilities in service today.
“To personally honor the original operators of 1BCG, special medallions and citations were presented on behalf of The Radio Club by President Morelock. Of the recipients, Major Edwin H. Armstrong, George E. Burghard, Ernest V. Amy and Paul F. Godley were present; Minton Cronkhite, John F. Grinan and Walker Inman were unable to attend. With the exception of Mr. Godley who operated the receiving equipment in Scotland, the others were responsible for the design, construction and successful operation of 1BCG.
“Honorable Wilbur M. Peck, First Selectman of Greenwich accepted the monument on behalf of his community and assured the Club of its perpetual care. He told of the careful preparation of the monument site by the town and of the special selection shrubbery to form a beautiful background for the granite memorial. Selectman Peck, spoke of the pride his community felt in having had 1BCG within its boundaries.
“Dr. Orestes H. Caldwell delivered the dedication address which proved most interesting because he, as a native of Connecticut, has a wealth of information about Greenwich and its environs. Speaking first about 1BCG, Dr. Caldwell stressed the true significance of that first trans-Atlantic transmission and how a group of amateurs, with limited equipment and pressed for time, accomplished a feat which heretofore the commercial services had deemed impractical.
“Greenwich, explained Dr. Caldwell, had also been the scene of other early technical experiments, one of the most outstanding being the first illumination by electricity of a private residence. He further informed his audience of many of the legends of the area, how Lafayette visited the town during the Revolution and of the escape by way of Greenwich of the notorious Boss Tweed. In summarizing Dr. Caldwell’s fascinating address, it may be said that the eloquently told of how a neighborhood already rich in historical events was honored by still another recognition—the 1BCG Dedication.
“He also commended the Radio Club on its membership and the important part taken in the development of the field of electronics by such men as Armstrong, Houck, Horle, Beverage, Hogan, Amy, Burghard, Godley, Grinan, Inman, Sadenwater, Van Dyke, Morelock and Cronkhite.
“During the ceremonies countless pictures were taken by both amateur and professional photographers anxious to record the event for posterity. Tape recordings were made by Walter S. Lemmon, president of World Wide Broadcasting Co., for FM station WGCH and for the Voice of America. Past-president Jerry B. Minter, also made a recording which he presented at the Club’s 40th Anniversary Banquet in New York on December 1st.
“After the formalities were over many groups retired to the Pickwick Arms for refreshment and lunch. In this famous old hostelry, radio talk was heard on all sides far into the afternoon as stories were told and experiences swapped by those who have helped make radio what it is today. For the newer members and visitors outside the club, it was an enjoyable experience to just sit and listen, for the day will long be remembered as one that is worthy of a page in the world’s history of communications.”
The Citation accompanying the Armstrong Medallions is shown on the following page.
The Committee had invited Ex-President Herbert Hoover to speak at the dedication but he expressed his sincere regrets at not being able to attend due to a previous commitment. In view of this a specially engrossed page was inserted into a copy of the Commemorative Issue and signed by all the members of the staff of 1BCG and Paul Godley, and sent to Mr. Hoover with a covering letter, for his famous scientific library. He was very grateful and sent us the following letter of thanks and appreciation:
It was by a very sad turn of fate indeed that the very man who conceived of the idea of commemorating the achievements of 1BCG and who was hale and hearty at the dedication ceremonies should be taken by death on October 28th only one week after he saw the fruits of his labors crowned by the ceremonies at Greenwich. He was one of our oldest members and one of the most active. He will be sorely missed but never forgotten by all who had the privilege of knowing him. The statement below appeared in the 1950, issue of the Radio Club Proceedings, and expressed our feelings, although inadequately.
“Mr. Horle, well known to Radio Club members and prominent in the engineering profession, died on October 28 after a brief illness, at Newark, N. J. He was 58.
“He started pioneering in radio in his early boyhood. When only 14 years of age he operated an amateur station and later became one of the organizers of the New Jersey Wireless Association.
“A graduate of the Stevens Institute of Technology, he taught for two years at that institution before becoming affiliated with the Navy Department as a radio engineer. During World War I he was largely responsible for the planning of the Navy’s Anacosta, Maryland radio research laboratory.
“In the following years he was chief engineer for the DeForest radio Telephone and Telegraph Company, a Vice-President of the Federal Telephone Manufacturing Company, and engineering consultant and chief engineer and director of the Data Bureau of the Radio Manufacturers Association.
“Mr. Horle was elected as a member of The Radio Club of America in November 1913, and became a Fellow in 1926. He held the offices of Vice President in 1921 and 1931, Recording Secretary in 1922 and President in 1932. In 1922, 1924, 1930 and from 1933 to 1940, he served as a Director of the Club. Mr. Horle was most active in club affairs serving on many committees; he was chairman of the Awards Committee and originated the 1BCG Memorial which was dedicated just one week prior to his death.
“He joined the Institute of Radio Engineers in 1914 and became a Fellow in 1925. in 1940, the IRE elected him as President and in 1948 that organization awarded him the IRE medal for ‘contributions to standardizations both in peace and war.’”
On December 12th, 1952 The Radio Club awarded the Armstrong Medal to Captain Henry J. Rounds for his important work in the early days of Radio and in World War I. The presentation was made by President John Bose at the 43rd Anniversary Banquet and the Advertising Club in New York City.
In past years Armstrong had made it a practice to make his first disclosures of his inventions before the Radio Club of America. This he did for two reasons: First because he always took a great interest in the club and secondly because commercialism was reduced to an absolute minimum at all the Club meetings and he felt he could speak more freely. Thus on October 13th, 1953 the Club was blessed with another first when Dr. Armstrong and John Bose read a paper titled “Some Recent Developments in the Multiplexed Transmission of Frequency Modulated Broadcast Signals” and demonstrated their system, at a meeting in Pupin Hall Columbia University. The tests were expertly carried out and proved a discovery of major and far reaching proportions.
On February 1st, 1954 the Radio world and the Radio Club in particular was profoundly shocked by the death of one of its most distinguished members, Edwin Howard Armstrong. The club and its associations were a very important part of his life and by the same token he had become an integral part of the Radio Club’s very existence. It seemed impossible that we were no longer to feel his presence at meetings and other functions and to listen to his sage remarks and profit by his strong conviction of sincerity and meticulous attention to detail and truth. The example that he set will never be forgotten by those who heard him and will always be cherished by those who had the good fortune to know him well. The Club had lost a great man and a good friend.
President Shepard appointed a special Armstrong Memorial Committee to see that proper recognition was forth coming. A special folio was prepared for insertion into the next issue of the Club Proceedings. It showed a picture of the Major on the front page and contained a list of all the awards and honors he had attained during his career as well as a copy of the engrossed scroll setting forth the resolution of the Board of Directors. The original scroll was signed by all the officers and Directors and presented to Mrs. Armstrong.
Many letters of condolence were received and many articles were written about Armstrong but space will only permit the recording of a few on these pages. The following letter was sent by the Major’s very old friend and Honorary member of the Radio Club Captain Henry J. Round of London.
Message to The Radio Club of America from Capt. H. J. Round
“As a member of the Radio Club unable to be present with you, I would like to record my sorrow at the loss of our beloved associate, Major Edwin H. Armstrong.
“Only about one year ago I renewed my personal acquaintance with Howard after twenty years interval, and I am honoured to think that he gave the citation when I was presented with your Medal named after him.
“I first met Armstrong in late 1917 when he called on me at my laboratory in London, bringing with him the story of the recent U.S. developments in Wireless, and we exchanged information which was very valuable during the latter part of the War.
“I met him again on several occasions and had the pleasure of being given a very early demonstration of his Superheterodyne in his Paris Laboratory. Mr. Houck was present at that demonstration and has reminded me that I was rather slow at grasping what Armstrong had done.
“I met him just after he had invented Superregeneration when he visited us at Marconi’s in Chelmsford.
“I remember very clearly his radio message to me from the ship in which he was coming from Europe:
‘Arriving in England on Saturday with the contents of the Radio Corporation safe.’
“Armstrong on that visit brought in France his Hispano Suiza car which he had for many years.
“In 1929 I visited the States, partly on Marconi’s business, and stayed with him for a memorable six weeks, during which we visited Schenectady where I met Harry Sadenwater and saw the radio and scientific progress going on in the General Electric Laboratories.
“I remember renewing acquaintanceship with Dr. Alexandersen and the great scientist Langmuir.
“We also visited Pittsburgh and I was present at a technical meeting when the next year’s models were being tried out. There I had long talks with Conrad and other well known personalities.
“Riverhead and my old friend Beverage visited, and then the great exploration to look for old relics took place.
“As I have recorded elsewhere, the site of the Babylon station was discovered and we found the old operating hut which now lies at Riverhead.
“The dinner your Club gave me during my visit stands out in my memory because of the large number of well known Radio me I met there.
“Since those days until December 1952 when I was present at your banquet, Armstrong and I corresponded very frequently.
“He particularly kept me well supplied with the latest American receivers, lately, of course, chief FM models, and I am the proud possessor of that very fine R E L super FM instrument which is on my table by the side of me now in full working order.
“Unfortunately, there are very few FM stations over here to listen to.
“England has been unable, with war and subsequent peace recovery work, to blossom out in that direction on a large scale, but the word has just been given to go full steam ahead and when the planned FM group is finished our small island will have at least six high power FM stations, each radiating three programs at once. This will be our monument to Howard.
“Armstrong in his ‘Spirit of Discovery’ lecture said about my old chief Marconi
‘It is seldom that a man makes two basic discoveries. When a man makes three his attitude towards problems and his method of work merit close analysis and study.’
“I cannot help feeling that this applies equally to Armstrong himself.
“Many men in the past have made discoveries but left it for those autocrats, the scientists, to theorize, the engineers to make a job of things, and the business men to give the world and themselves the benefits.
“Howard tried to do it all himself and it was too much even for his great intellect and personality. However, I think that if he had left FM to others in its early stages it would not have gone anywhere near so far, and if fact I think there would have been a tendency to suppress it on the part of vested interests.
“It has gone so far now that it cannot be suppressed, and I venture to prophesy that in the not too distant future radio broadcasting in the U.S. will turn largely to FM.
“My short acquaintance with your radio last year showed me that you need it even more than we do in England.
“Armstrong is now amongst the immortals and is surely in the history of your nation worthy to be classed with Bell, Edison and Westinghouse.
“I salute the spirit of my great friend”
H. J. ROUND
The Board of Directors had originally intended to inscribe the names of the staff of station 1BCG on the monument at Greenwich when it was first erected, but Armstrong had always objected saying that they are all still alive and you just don’t put a living man’s name on a monument. The Board therefore felt that as an additional tribute to Armstrong the names should now be inscribed. This was done and at a small ceremony at Greenwich on May 11th, 1954 the work was consummated.
As a further tribute to Armstrong a group of his old friends and associates together with the Radio Club and the Engineering Council of Columbia University formed the ARMSTRONG MEMORIAL RESEARCH FOUNDATION Inc. on November 21st, 1955. The original Charter members and Directors were:
Ernest V. Amy, Harold H. Beverage, George E. Burghard, George J. Eltz, John V. L. Hogan, Harry W. Houck, Walter S. Lemmon, Alfred McCormack, Harry Sadenwater, Joseph Stantley, Thomas J. Styles, Dana M. Raymond, Robert W. Byerly, John R. Dunning, C. R. Runyon Jr., James R. Day, Frank A Gunther, John H. Bose, Raymond A. Heising, Frank H. Shepard Jr., Evan B. Lloyd, Edward L. Bowles.
Officers: George Burghard, President; Harry Houck Vice President, Thomas Styles, Secretary and Joseph Stantley, Treasurer. The purposes of the Foundation are set forth in the Charter and We quote:
“(a) to honor the memory of the late Professor Edwin Howard Armstrong by helping to perpetuate the principles that guided him in a life devoted to basic research in electronics;
“(b) to aid voluntarily in the continuation of the basic research that was carried on by Armstrong at the Marcellus Hartley Laboratory at Columbia University in the City of New York.
“(c) to contribute voluntarily to the education and training of engineers and scientists capable of doing basic applied research in electronics and related fields of science.”
The Foundation now numbers some one hundred members in its four classes of membership ie. Founding, sustaining, Contributing and Associate, and has succeeded in collecting over $60,000.00 from dues and contributions. $40,000.00 of this has been pledged to build and equip the Armstrong Physical Electronics Research Laboratory in the new Engineering Center at Columbia University and with a bright future in view it is hoped that other projects such as scholarships etc. will be forthcoming.
In 1956 the Armstrong Medal was awarded to one of Radio’s real old timers, Melville Eastham founder of the Clapp-Eastham Co. one of the pioneer manufacturers of radio measuring apparatus and equipment. The presentation was made at the 47th Anniversary banquet held at the Columbia University Club.
The Radio club suffered another great loss in 1957 by the untimely passing of one of its earliest members John F. Grinan on May 22nd. “Johnny,” as he was called by most everyone, was indeed one of nature’s noblemen and beloved by all who knew him. He started in Radio as an amateur in 1909 and became the world’s most famous amateur operator. He was the first to send direct transcontinental signals, he sent the first transcontinental relay message, he sent the first transcontinental message and the first transatlantic short wave message from station 1BCG in 1921. His own station 2PM in New York City was known to every amateur and local commercial operator before World War I. He was born in Cuba but moved to Jamaica B.W.I. where his family owned and operated sugar plantations. In Jamaica in the thirties he set up station NJ2PZ and later VP5PZ thru which he communicated regularly with his friends in the states and all over the world. This station became even more famous than old 2PM. In later years he came to St. Petersburg, Florida where he died of a heart attack in his sixty-first year.
As we now face the present and look to the future we cannot lose sight of the fact that the club is actually in the second generation and fast running into the third. The sons of the old timers are now taking over and we mention with pride the accomplishments of such fine radio men as Renville H. McMann 3rd, C. R. Runyon 3rd, Joseph Stantley Jr., John S. Di Blasi, Alfred H. Grebe, M. B. Cronkhite, W. G. F. Cronkhite and Paul Sadenwater, and there are many more to come. Yes these younger men are taking over the reins and will carry on in the true tradition of the Radio Club of America making all the necessary adjustments of policy to keep up with the times. This does not mean that the old timers have lost interest. In fact quite the contrary is true. Several of them still operate and have continuously operated their own amateur stations, with the very latest equipment either on CW of single side band telephone. Although the radio telephone both AM and SSB is perhaps the most universal system at present because of the great improvement in DX communication, there is nevertheless still a large group who prefer pounding brass and most any morning early one can hear W2AG Randy Runyon, W2FG Clarence Pfeifer and W1ZE Irving Vermilya and the gang batting it out in the old American Morse code which is the mark of a true old timer. Also active on both CW and Phone are Frank Gunther W2ALS, George Eltz W2ZL, George Burghard W2GEC, John Di Blasi W2FX the President of the Quarter Century Wireless Assn. and our present President Walter Knoop W2PXR who is a keen CW operator. There are a great many more members thruout the country who are still active and it is a great pleasure and brings back fond memories when we can contact one of them and have a real old rag chew. We have purposely omitted showing the fotos of amateur stations in the latter sections of this history because of space for one thing and also because times have changed and the home rig is really a thing of the past. This was the most interesting phase to the reader while pictures of the modern factory built really commercial rigs of the amateur today can be found in any magazine. We cannot stress too greatly the importance of keeping up with the spirit of the Club and several innovations have been injected into the Club life in recent years which bear mentioning here.
In 1955 President Frank Shepard instituted the practice of holding the last Directors meeting of the year at the home of the chief executive. The first one was hosted by Frank and his gracious wife at their home in Summit New Jersey. It consisted of as little meeting as possible and then a real get together with all the trimming including the wives or girl friends. The party proved so successful that it now has become standard practice and similar meetings were held in 1956 and 1957 at the home of Frank Gunther on Staten Island and at the home of Walter Knoop, in Essex Falls N. J. in 1958 and Jim Morelock was the host at Millington N. J. in this year of 1959. A very good time was had by all and we sincerely hope that there will be many more to come.
Under the able leadership of Walter Knoop as President and Ren McMann Jr., as Chairman of the Papers and Meetings Committee the old but excellent practice of having field trips has been revived. One was made in June of 1958 to Fort Monmouth Signal Laboratories and the last in June of 1959 to Idelwild Airport. Both were most interesting and added greatly to the prestige of the Club. Keep up the good work.
On May 14th, 1958 the Club lost its first founding member with the death of George J. Eltz Jr. He was indeed a Radio Pioneer having started as an amateur in 1907, was the first Vice President of the Junior Wireless Club Ltd. In 1909 and President of the Radio Club of America in 1915. Many of his radio exploits can be found elsewhere in the pages of this history. A suitable resolution was passed by the Board of Directors and presented to his widow.
George was a very able engineer and tireless experimenter, which coupled with a great sense of humor and a scintilating personality made his loss irreparable. The following letter was sent to his wife by W. Preston Corderman the Commanding general at Fort Monmouth where he had served as civilian Director of Engineering Facilities Division of the Signal Research Laboratory since 1941.
The present administration of the Club is very much aware of the effect of the great change in our way of life on the future of the club. Accordingly President Knoop has recently appointed a special committee to search into every phase of this complex situation and come up with recommendations as to the proper procedure to insure the future welfare of the oldest Radio Club in continuous existence in the World.
President Frank Gunther in 1957 appointed a special 50th Anniversary Committee to make proper arrangements for the Golden Jubilee celebration in 1959. this Committee has been hard at work ever since. The plans are, to publish a Golden Year Book along the same lines as the 25th Anniversary Silver Book, and to hold a great Banquet on December 4th, 1959 to which, for the first time in Radio Club history ladies will be invited. It should be a very festive affair indeed and well under way by the time these lines are printed and the Golden Year Book is ready for distribution.
This brings our story to an end. Again we must express our regrets that due to lack of space it has been impossible to write about the many excellent contributions of the Radio Club of America to the Radio Art. If you will take the time, however to carefully read the other sections of this Book we feel sure that their magnitude will become increasingly apparent. Now that our first fifty years have been successfully accomplished we sincerely hope that the Club will live for many years to come in the same spirit and with the same high ideals upon which it was founded.