1959 – 1984 – The Club Continues
The final pages of Part I of this History states: “This History was written with a two-fold purpose. First, to chronicle as accurately as possible the most interesting Club events of the past twenty-five years, and secondly to try and give a general idea of the development of the small boy who was responsible for its beginning. We have purposely omitted, with but few exceptions, the recording of the many truly great scientific, literary and engineering achievements of the members, because of their unweildly nature.
“We fully realize that the apparent character of the Club has, quite naturally, changed with the years. The Radio Club has become a respected scientific body, but the spirit of friendliness and cooperation which lies deep within, has never changed ….”
This history of the Club during its third quarter-century is one of an institution in transition. The period saw the financial crisis of the late 1960s and its solution by the personal contributions of the Officers, Directors and members, and then the determined efforts to increase the size of the membership to assure sufficient funds. From a membership of 376 listed in the 50th Anniversary Diamond Yearbook, there now are 1033 names in the current membership directory.
With the successful recruiting of leaders in the telecommunications industry, the caliber of the membership is such that approximately 30 awards to the grade of Fellow are made annually. Recognizing that there still remains a large group of members who are highly qualified for professional recognition, the Club instituted the grade of Senior Member in the Spring of 1984, and amended the Club’s By-Laws to permit that grade.
During the last forty years or so, the electronics industry has diversified or fragmented into many sub-groups, some allied in no way with radio communications; yet, it was the consensus of the membership that the Club should recognize the achievements in those allied fields and invite outstanding personages into membership. This has been done, and reference to the club now often identifies it as being the oldest electronic society in the world.
The activities of the Club also have changed considerably during these last twenty-five years. Perhaps symbolic of the changes are the revisions of the Club’s Constitution made necessary by the attaining of a tax-exempt status. Prior to 1915, the Club continued to use the original constitution of the junior Wireless Club Ltd. which was drawn in 1909. With the adoption of a new Constitution in 1915, the purpose of the Club was stated to be: “… the promotion of cooperation among those interested in scientific investigation and amateur operation in the art of radio communication.”
The 1915 Constitution remained unchanged until 1969 when the following was added to the purpose: “To support educational and scientific research studies to advance radio communication art and its related electronic techniques.” This partially resulted form a Club project begun in 1962 to financially assist secondary school science students through the Science Honors Program sponsored by the Columbia University School of Engineering & Applied Science.
The success of that program led in 1977 to a proposal to grant scholarships on a wider basis, and a fund to support the grants was started with a contribution from Capt. William G.H. Finch, then a Director of the Club and Chairman of the Finance Committee. To encourage such contributions, the Club amended its Constitution again in 1975 to conform to the requirements of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. The revisions in the stated purpose of the Club became: “To operate exclusively for charitable, educational and scientific purposes … and more specifically to study and contribute to the development of radio communication programs and provide a scholarship fund for needy and worthy students for the study of radio communication.”
The approval of the IRS led to the founding of the Club’s Research Projects Committee, and the Scholarship Committee. Shortly thereafter, these were combined into a single Scholarship & Research Committee whose name was changed to the Grants-In-Aid Committee in November 1979, and that committee undertook the solicitation of contributions from members, and the awarding of scholarships to college-level students.
The Club’s activities have changed partly due to the wide geographical dispersion of the membership. Whereas the founders met at least once a month to discuss technical subjects, such an activity now is limited to the annual technical sessions held during the afternoon of the Annual Meeting, prior to the Awards Dinner. The formation of Sections has been encouraged to compensate somewhat for the lack of a location convenient to all members, such Sections were formed in Washington, D.C.; Southern California; Chicago; and Florida. Each has fifteen or more members as required by the By-Laws, and meets to discuss Club activities and technical subjects. Numerous luncheon meetings were held jointly with IEEE groups, QCWA, ARRL and AFCEA. Technical speakers were featured.
During these last twenty-five years, the Club welcomed its first lady member, Mrs. Vivian A. Carr, who joined in 1973, became a Director and Chairperson of the Membership Committee in 1974, and was awarded the grade of Fellow in 1975. Since then, many other ladies have joined, and the Club has at least five husband and wife memberships.
During 1983, a proposal was made for the joining of the de Forest Pioneers with The Radio Club of America, and the action was unanimously approved by the surviving members of the de Forest Pioneers, and by the Board of Directors of The Radio Club. Coincidentally with this, the Club established the Lee de Forest Award and a de Forest scholarship grant.
The Lee de Forest Award was the latest of seven honors established by the Club during these last twenty-five years. Prior to 1973, the Club awarded only the Armstrong Medal which was founded in 1935 and first awarded in 1937. In 1973, the Sarnoff Citation was first granted with the Hon. Barry M. Goldwater, United States Senator from the State of Arizona, being the first recipient. The President’s Award was first granted in 1974 and was followed in 1975 by the Pioneer Citation, and in 1976 by the Ralph Batcher Memorial Award. In 1979, the Allen B. DuMont Citation was established and first granted, and the Henry Busignies Memorial Award followed in 1981. A listing of all recipients is included in the Who’s Who section of this book.
The history of these last twenty-five years is being continued in the writings of 36 members whose 38 articles are being included in this section of the Yearbook. As our Preface explained, a year book no longer is needed to tell the stories of the achievements of our members, or of the annual Award Dinners and the honors granted because the Proceedings now records that information. The Yearbook, then, brings somewhat different viewpoints as to what should be included in the history of the Club, and each article tells of some event wherein The Radio Club and its members have influenced history.
This is a history of and by the people who are The Radio Club of America: those who have a special reverence for facts … and endless and respectful curiosity … and a sense of wonder and fascination in the presence of our legacy from the past.