1906 - 2000
Regarded as a founder of the electronics accessory industry, Herbert Borchardt created the systems that enabled dealers to expand their business offerings and profits with accessory products. Some of his first accessory products included 78-rpm phonograph replacement needles, record covers, cleaning materials and other phono accessories.
At Recoton, he helped develop new innovative electronic accessories for 45 rpm records, eight track cartridges, audio video devices, telephones, antennas, audio cassettes, CB radios, television, cell phones, DVDs and videogames. He also planned accessories for emerging technologies such as digital HDTV.
Borchardt was born in Germany and began his career there, working at Brunswick Records. He later founded Polydor Records in Paris in 1929, and then Bost Records when he arrived in New York in 1941. After this, Borchardt began his involvement with Recoton.
Leading CE Journalist
Kenwood Electronics Inc.
Atwater Kent Radio Co.
President and Founder
North American Retail Dealers Association (NARDA)
Developer, all-electronic television
Circuit City Stores Inc.
Inventor, high-frequency wave alternator
Pioneer of radio and television, he invented the high-frequency wave alternator so that radio waves could be transmitted with high frequencies and a constant signal. In his 46 years with GE, Alexanderson received 322 patents.
Appel was affectionately called “Mr. Radio Shack” by employees and vendors during his 34 years at one of the most successful consumer electronics companies. Appel held virtually every merchandising position for Radio Shack, and was appointed president in 1984.
Electronic Industries Association
As president of the Electronic Industries Association’s engineering department for 26 years, Baker designed EIA’s engineering standards setting. Baker was the chairman of the FCC’s National Television System Committee (NTSC) and was instrumental in reversing the FCC’s decision to adopt the incompatible CBS color TV system in favor of RCA’s compatible system.
Consumer Electronics Group (CEG)
Chairman and Vice President
Boss was chairman and vice president of the Consumer Electronics Group (CEG) board of directors, served as a member on both the EIA and CEG Board for 20 years and was the chairman of the board of EIA. He led RCA efforts to develop retail training for the advent of color television.
Ekstract started more than a dozen business periodicals during a 40-year period, including Consumer Electronics Monthly, Autosound Communications, Video Review, Video Business and TWICE. He now runs Wideband Inc., a company he formed in 1996.
Zenith Radio Sales Group
An outstanding marketer, Fisher was president of Zenith Radio Sales Group and helped Zenith gain its reputation. He also was chairman of EIA/CEG and fostered the formation of the International CES and CEG autonomy within EIA.
A consumer electronics retailer with multiple outlets in the Chicago area, Polk operated a prototype chain that was emulated by other retailers and present day national chains. Polk served as the president of the North American Retail Dealers Association (NARDA), and as a flamboyant promoter of the industry’s products.
RCA Consumer Electronics
A prominent marketing figure at RCA Consumer Electronics and the consumer electronics industry, Sauter generated demand for color television sets in the 1950s and popularized the VCR in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Inventor, vacuum tube and diode
1849 - 1945
Sir John Ambrose Fleming’s invention of the thermionic valve (tube) jumpstarted modern electronics. He also made many other contributions to the field of electrical machinery.
He was born in 1849, the eldest of seven children to a Congregational minister. Although born in Lancaster, his family soon moved to London.
After studying at University College, London, and at Cambridge University, Fleming was a consultant for the Edison Electric Light Company in London. He later became an adviser to the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company and a popular teacher at University College (UCL) from 1885 to 1926, where he was the first to hold the title of professor of electrical engineering.
Early in his career Fleming investigated photometry, worked with high-voltage alternating currents and designed some of the first electric lighting for ships. In addition, Fleming designed the transmitter that made Marconi’s first transatlantic transmission in 1901 possible.
Fleming recognized that the major problem preventing vast improvements being made was that of detecting the signals themselves. Fleming wondered about using the Edison effect to rectify the radio waves and thereby act as a detector. Having previously performed some experiments using these bulbs, he gave the idea to his assistant who implemented the experiment and found it to work.
The two-electrode radio rectifier, which he called the thermionic valve; also known as the vacuum diode, kenotron, thermionic tube and Fleming valve was patented in 1904. Fleming's invention was the ancestor of the triode and other multielectrode vacuum tubes.
The vacuum-tube diode contains two electrodes: the cathode, which is either a heated filament or a small, heated, metal tube that emits electrons through thermionic emission; and the anode, or plate, which is the electron-collecting element). Vacuum tubes have been almost entirely replaced by transistors, which are cheaper, smaller and more reliable.
The invention of the diode was a revolutionary idea, but it had little impact at first. "Valves" were expensive to make, and in less than two years, the “cat's whisker” was produced, a crude form of semiconductor rectifier that consisted of a thin wire positioned on a lump of suitable material (even coal) to produce a point contact rectifier. This was more convenient than Fleming's diode and it soon caught on.
Around 1906 the de Forest Company in the U.S. introduced a device called an Audion. It used the same basic thermionic technology as Fleming's diode, but a third electrode had been added. This was called a grid because of the nature of its construction. Initially the Audion was only used for detection of signals. It took another four years before it was used as an amplifier. Fleming lost a patent infringement case regarding the thermionic technology in the courts.
Fleming authored more than 100 scientific papers and books, including The Principles of Electric Wave Telegraphy (1906) and The Propagation of Electric Currents in Telephone and Telegraph Conductors (1911).
He retired in 1926 and was knighted in 1929 for the advances he had made to electrical and electronic engineering. For 15 years he was president of the Television Society. He died in 1945.
Born in Luxemburg in 1884 and educated in European technical schools, Hugo Gernsback’s passion for the future of electrical things gave birth to American science fiction. He immigrated to America in 1904. Among his accomplishments, Gernsback founded Electric Importing Company in 1905, was editor of Modern Electrics, founded Amazing Stories and founded radio station WRNY where he was involved in the first television broadcasts.
Electronic gadgets fascinated Gernsback from boyhood. One of his earliest ventures was launching a device he called the Telimco Wireless, America’s first home radio set. The Telimco set sold for $7.50 at Macy’s, Gimbel’s and Marshall Field’s.
An elegant man who wore expensive suits, Gernsback wrote about robot doctors, retirement colonies on Mars and domed cities orbiting Earth. In 1908 he launched the first radio magazine, Modern Electrics, to introduce the public to the coming marvels of science and electronics. The first issue sold for 10 cents and covered topics such as “How to Make an Electric Whistle.”
Gernsback became known as the founding father of American science fiction when he created the world's first magazine of “Scientifiction” Amazing Stories, in 1926. He ran the slogan, "Extravagant Fiction Today -- Cold Fact Tomorrow." Frank R. Paul, his designer, was an Austrian immigrant whose passion for scientific accuracy helped to create a futuristic blueprint for the magazine.
Wonder Stories debuted in 1929. Despite the Great Depression, Gernsback Publications Inc. became successful with more than 50 magazines such as Radio Craft and Short Wave Craft to Sexology.
In his own fiction, particularly the novel Ralph 124C41+, Gernsback wrote about the future. Skywriting, tape recorders, microfiche, solar power, holograms, fax machines, even aluminum foil -- all were part of his lead character’s daily life -- foreign concepts in 1911. The scope of the author’s imagination remains breathtaking.
The prestigious Hugo Awards given annually for the best sci-fi books and films are named in his honor. He also was an author, inventor, scientific prophet, magazine publisher and broadcast pioneer. For a man who may have believed in Martians, Gernsback gained the respect of the most prominent scientists of his time including Guglielmo Marconi, Nikola Tesla, Robert Goddard, David Sarnoff and Thomas Edison.
One of his favorite gadgets was the “scanning televisor” that became known as television. Gernsback first used the term in 1909 and in 1928, 20 years before TV debuted, he introduced his first TV magazine, All About Television. The cover, which showed a future family watching a football game, was an uncanny portrayal of what was to come.
Gernsback founded radio station WRNY in 1925. Three years later, the station began one of the first regular television broadcasts. He encouraged his readers to construct their own television sets, following elaborate blueprints reproduced in the magazine. The sets featured a motor, a neon glow lamp and a 24-inch scanner disk that whirled at 450 revolutions per minute. Regular programming on the handful of amateur sets began on August 21, 1928, with listings in the New York Times.
Gernsback lost a fortune on his TV-radio station and went bankrupt in 1929 losing his Amazing Stories empire. However he began a new publishing company two months later with 8,000 in subscription orders. New magazines soon hit the stands, including Radio-Craft, Science Wonder Stories and Air Wonder Stories. Gernsback died in 1967.
Jensen Car Audio
Developer, first car stereo
Developer, magnetic wire recorder
Developer, alternating current (AC)
Founder of Emerson Radio and Phonograph Corp.
TV remote control pioneer
Creator of FM radio
Developer of television
Former president, Philco Corp.; leader in developing car radio
Co-inventor of the transistor
Inventor of the telephone
Creator of home video sales
Invented the oscillograph
Spurred the video game industry
First mass market radio
Development of vacuum tube
Dolby Laboratories, Inc.
Founder and chairman
Founder of the DuMont Television Network and the first CRTs
Invented the light bulb, storage battery and phonograph
Developer of stereo FM and stereo TV
Developed TV based on cathode ray tube
Developer of radio broadcasting
Invented the transistorized amplifier, combination stereo radio/phonograph
President of Magnavox
Leader in developing video recording
Invented the 33 RPM vinyl LP record and the first color TV system
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