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CE Hall of Fame Inductees

2003 Inductees

  • Herbert Borchardt

    Herbert Borchardt

    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.

  • Leonard Feldman

    Leonard Feldman

    Leading CE Journalist

    Known as an industry consultant, lecturer and technical writer, Leonard Feldman contributed to the consumer electronics industry in a variety of ways. 

    As the senior editor of Audio magazine, Feldman wrote reviews that made insightful comparisons of competing consumer electronics equipment through Feldman Labs. He also was a columnist for EQ magazine and covered various audio and electronic issues in other industry publications such as Popular Electronic, Popular Science, Consumer Electronics Magazine and TWICE, as well as several newspapers. 

    Feldman authored seven books covering industry topics. Feldman was involved in the Audio Engineering Society (AES) as the vice president of the eastern region.

  • Kees A. Schouhammer-Immink

    Kees A. Schouhammer-Immink

    For more than 25 years, Kees Schouhammer Immink played a central role in research and development of mass data storage products. He was affiliated with Philips Research Labs, Eindoven, Netherlands from 1967 to 1998. His research resulted in 50 U.S.-issued patents, five of those basic patents have played a key role in the optical recorder industry since 1985 and will continue until at least 2015.

    Immink joined the Philips’ research group in 1971 and participated in the world’s first experiments with optical videodisc recording. In 1979, as a technical leader, Immink participated in the negotiations between Sony and Philips for the worldwide-accepted standard for the compact disc (CD).

    Immink’s coding system, named 
    EFM, now is used in most systems for digital video, audio and data recording. More recently, Immink designed the channel coding techniques for the digital versatile disc (DVD) as well as the videodisc recorder (VDR), which intends to bring an alternative to the camcorder.

  • William Kasuga

    William Kasuga

    Kenwood Electronics Inc.
    Co-founder

    William Kasuga co-founded Kenwood Electronics Inc. in 1961 as a distribution company for Trio Corp., a Japanese consumer electronics manufacturer, and gradually built Kenwood into a name synonymous with quality stereo systems. The company name was changed to Kenwood U.S.A. Corp. in 1975.

    In 1993 Kasuga was named chairman of the board for the company, which then had sales of more than $500 million and more than 300 employees. Kasuga stepped down as chairman in 1995, but continued with Kenwood as a member of the executive committee and the 401k Trustees Board.

    Today he serves as an advisor to Kenwood’s president. Kasuga graduated from the University of San Francisco, served in the U.S. Army for 16 years and worked for A&A Trading Corp., an importing affiliate of RadioShack, before founding Kenwood. He is also a CEA Lifetime Achievement Award winner.

  • Atwater Kent

    Atwater Kent

    Atwater Kent Radio Co.
    President and Founder

    President and founder of the Atwater Kent Radio Co., Atwater Kent manufactured the open set radio, nicknamed a “breadboard,” for which he is known today. Such radios were constructed on attractive wooden planks lacking a case, which allowed them to reveal their superior quality components.

    At one point, during the 
    1920s, Kent’s company was considered to be the world’s radio leader. Kent’s radio show, The Atwater Kent Hour, was also one of the mediums most popular shows. During the 1930s Kent brought out about 15 new radio models each year, including consoles, compacts and auto radios. The Depression had a major adverse impact on Kent’s radio business, and after trying cost-cutting measures, Kent closed his Philadelphia plant in 1936, rather than sacrifice quality.

    Kent also was involved with developing 
    standards for the radio industry as an activist in the engineering department of the Radio Manufacturing Association (RMA), which later became EIA. He also served on the RMA board of directors.

  • Jules Steinberg

    Jules Steinberg

    North American Retail Dealers Association (NARDA)
    Guiding Executive

    Jules Steinberg was the guiding executive of the North American Retail Dealers Association (NARDA), the industry’s leading retail association, during his tenure as its full-time executive vice president. Involved in this association from the beginning, Steinberg transformed NARDA from a small association into a major marketing force within the consumer electronics industry.

    He assisted in the success of the first Consumer Electronics 
    Show (CES) by holding NARDA’s annual convention in New York during the 1970s. He is still involved in the consumer electronics industry as a retailing consultant and as a columnist for TWICE magazine.

  • Kenjiro Takayanagi

    Kenjiro Takayanagi

    Developer, all-electronic television

    Kenjiro Takayanagi was the first scientist to successfully transmit and receive an image on a cathode ray tube. He developed the all-electronic television in 1935. A teacher at Hamamatsu Technical High School in Japan, Takayanagi began his experiments during the late Taisho Era and conducted a successful public demonstration using the Braun tube system at a television conference at the Tokyo branch of the Electrical Academy in 1928.

    Aside from his 
    inventions, Takayanagi contributed to the success of JVC by serving as one of its top electronics advisors. In 1959, he developed the first twoheaded VTR and worked on the development of the VHS videocassette system. He received Japan’s national Order of Cultural Merit in 1981 for his achievements in electronics engineering research.

  • Joseph Tushinsky

    Joseph Tushinsky

    Joseph Tushinsky was an inventor, musician, optics innovator, writer and chairman of the board of Superscope Corp. and the Marantz Co. He played a major role in developing the high-fidelity industry by becoming the American import-distributor of Sony audio tape recorders in the late 1950s.

    Tushinsky wrote several screenplays that were made into motion pictures in the 1940s and in 1943, went to Hollywood where, with his brother Irving, developed a wide-screen movie projection process known as Superscope, which was introduced in 1953 and helped to usher in the era of wide-screen motion pictures. While marketing the Superscope process in Japan in 1957, Tushinsky met with Sony co-founder Akio Morita and negotiated to obtain exclusive rights to sell Sony’s audio recorders in the U.S. Under a revised agreement, Sony America began marketing audio recorders in 1974.

    In 1964 Superscope purchased the Marantz Co., and 
    the merged company under the Marantz name became a major marketer of high-fidelity stereo components. A collector of player pianos and their paper music rolls, in the 1970s Tushinsky developed an electronic version that was controlled by instructions recorded on a tape cassette. It was called the Piano Order Reproducing System. He retired as chairman of Marantz in 1987, when he sold the company to Cobra/Dynascan.

  • Alan Wurtzel

    Alan Wurtzel

    Circuit City Stores Inc.
    Former CEO

    Former CEO of Circuit City Stores Inc., Alan Wurtzel led Circuit City to be one of the nation’s largest retailers of brand-name consumer electronics and major appliances, as well as personal computers and music software. His father, Samuel S. Wurtzel, founded the retail company in 1,200 square feet of rented space in a Richmond, Va. tire store in 1949. Samuel called the business, Wards – an acronym for the names of his family members: Wurtzel, Alan, Ruth, David and Sam.

    Alan joined the company in 1966 as 
    vice president for legal affairs. The company was renamed Circuit City in the late 1970s. He served as CEO from 1972 to 1986 and chairman of the board from 1984 to 1994. From Delaplane, Va., Wurtzel served as vice-chairman of the board from 1994 to 2001. Circuit City was profiled as one of 11 companies in the best selling business book Good to Great written by Jim Collins. The book asked the question, “Can a good company become a great company and if so, how?” The book examined “rare and truly great companies with a corporate culture that rigorously found and promoted disciplined people to think and act in a disciplined manner.” 

    He was a member of the Virginia State Board of Education from 1991 to 1995, a trustee of Oberlin College and Virginia Commonwealth University, and president of Operation Independence, a nonprofit organization that supports Israel’s economic independence effort.

2002 Inductees

  • Ernst F.W. Alexanderson

    Ernst F.W. Alexanderson

    General Electric
    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.

  • Bernard Appel

    Bernard Appel

    Radio Shack
    President

    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.

  • W.G.B. Baker

    W.G.B. Baker

    Electronic Industries Association
    President

    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. 

  • William E. Boss

    William E. Boss

    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.

  • Richard Ekstract

    Richard Ekstract

    Media

    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.  

  • Walter Fisher

    Walter Fisher

    Zenith Radio Sales Group
    President

    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.   

  • Sol Polk

    Sol Polk

    Polk
    Founder

    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.

  • Jack K. Sauter

    Jack K. Sauter

    RCA Consumer Electronics
    Sales/Marketing

    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.

2001 Inductees

  • Emile Berliner

    Emile Berliner

    Inventor, gramophone

    • Invented the gramophone that provided the technology for recorded media in quantity.
    • Successful marketer introducing “His Master’s Voice” campaign.
    Though the official birth of recorded sound began in 1878 with Thomas Edison and his “Phonograph or Speaking Machine,” the arrival 10 years later of a German immigrant’s invention of the “Gramophone” provided the technology for recorded media in quantity.

    Edison’s tinfoil recordings, it turned out, could play for only a minute or so and quickly wore out the steel needles.  Emile Berliner, then a resident of Washington, D.C., included in his patent application a manufacturing technique which provided a master record from which duplicate copies could be made. This could not be accomplished with cylinders as Edison and others had conceived.

    Berliner’s technology was used for nearly 100 years.  The concept of a spiral groove carrying a continuously varying analog representation of the original sound remained the most widely used method of sound reproduction until the late 1980’s.  The storing of sound as a digital code has become the new direction in sound reproduction.

    Berliner also played a role in the marketing of his new product by popularizing one of the most endearing trademarks in advertising, the dog and horn representing “His Master’s Voice.”  In 1899, Berliner himself concluded arrangements for the soon-to-be-famous painting along with its copyright for use by his U.S. Gramophone Company.

    His first Gramophone, produced by outside suppliers, was not successful and forced Berliner to establish a manufacturing facility in Philadelphia.  A 1900 product line of six models by a licensed supplier, Elridge Johnson, ranged in retail price from $3.00 to $25.00.

    After critical patent issues were settled in 1901, Berliner and Johnson merged their business under the Victor Talking Machine Company and the watchful ear of the now famous dog and horn. Berliner remained active through the early 1920’s.

    Between 1912 and 1918, more than 127 million records and 2.5 instruments were sold to the public. Berliner’s technical skills had created a new mass market for recorded sound that brought artists like Enrico Caruso into living rooms around the world.

  • Sir John Ambrose Fleming

    Sir John Ambrose Fleming

    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.

  • Hugo Gernsback

    Hugo Gernsback

    Founder, WRNY

    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.

  • Peter Laurits Jensen

    Peter Laurits Jensen

    Jensen Car Audio
    Founder

    1886-1962
     

    • Developed the first commercially available moving coil direct radiator loudspeaker
    • Created the first speaker system designed to match the first car radio.
    Peter Laurits Jensen described as the Danish Edison, and founder of Jensen Car Audio, came to the United States from Denmark in 1902. In 1903 Jensen went to Copenhagen as an apprentice in the laboratory of radio pioneer Valdemar Poulsen. Poulsen had just developed an improved transmitter for generating continuous radio waves. As his assistant, Jensen was involved in Poulsen's efforts to broadcast the human voice rather than telegraphic impulses. In 1906 Jensen made a breakthrough by linking a microphone and a transmitter circuit as a sending apparatus and connecting a crystal detector to a grounded telegraph ticker as a receiver. Jensen also experimented with broadcasting recorded music to ships at sea.

    In 1909 Poulsen sold his American patent rights to the Poulsen Wireless Telephone and Telegraph Company, which reorganized as the Federal Telegraph Company. Jensen went to California to install the Poulsen equipment and met Edwin Pridham, an electrical engineer who taught him English. The reorganization left Jensen and Pridham jobless. They obtained financial backing and established their own firm, the Commercial Wireless and Development Company.

    Jensen discovered the remarkable high fidelity characteristics of the moving coil when it was applied to the reproduction of sound. Although patented by 1913, it was two years later when Jensen discovered a revolutionary application for his ideas. While he was working to develop a telephone receiver, Jensen connected the telephone ear tubes to a 22’ Edison Horn that he named the Magnavox --  “Great Voice.” He applied his principle at a Christmas celebration surprising townspeople that heard the spoken voice amplified throughout the city. Additional capital was obtained leading to the establishment of the Magnavox Company in 1917.

    During World War I, Jensen and Pridham developed an "antinoise microphone" that made the human voice audible over the roar of an airplane engine. Magnavox also won acclaim for a public address system for battleships that Jensen and Pridham invented. But the company achieved its greatest recognition in 1919, when President Woodrow Wilson addressed a crowd of 50,000 people and was heard distinctly with the aid of two Magnavox loudspeakers.

    During the 1920's Magnavox moved into the production of phonographs and home radio sets. Jensen disagreed with Magnavox executives and resigned in 1925.  In 1927 he founded the Jensen Radio Manufacturing Company. Jensen worked to eliminate distortion and improve fidelity in sound reproduction.  In 1943 disputes with financial backers led once more to his resignation from a firm of his own creation; he then founded Jensen Industries to manufacture phonograph needles.

    Jensen Car Audio milestones during Jensen’s lifetime included the first commercial moving coil radiator loudspeaker in 1926.  In 1930 the first permanent magnet dynamic loudspeaker, the first commercial compression-driven horn tweeter and the first molded hi-fi speaker diaphragm were unveiled. The speaker system for the first car radio produced by Paul Galvin debuted in 1931. In 1936 the bass reflex enclosed speaker was introduced. 1942 saw the first commercial coaxial two-way loudspeaker. In 1950 the first Triaxialä three-way unitary loudspeaker hit the market, and in 1952 the first horn-type super tweeter was launched. The last development under Jensen’s reign was in 1960 when the first flat piston woofer was introduced. In 1956, the King of Denmark knighted Jensen. The American Institute of Radio Engineers and the Audio Engineering Society also honored him.

  • Earl Muntz

    Earl Muntz

    Developer, first car stereo

    1917-1987
     

    • Developed the first car stereo
    • Invented the Muntz Stereo-Pak 4-track system (forerunner of the 8-track)
     
    Earl "Madman" Muntz was one of the most interesting practitioners of the art of hucksterism that America has ever known. He was a self-taught engineer, an outrageous personality and the inventor of the Muntz Stereo-Pak 4-track system.

    Muntz was a high school dropout and a tinkerer. Like Bill Lear, the father of the 8-track, Muntz's tinkering led to some great machines. Lear had his Lear Jet and Muntz created the Muntz Jet, a souped-up sportscar that sold for $5,500 -- big bucks in the early 1950's. Muntz also was an audio nut. According to Billboard, he developed the first known car stereo -- a 110-volt system that was modified to run on the car's own battery to avoid the risk of electrocution.

    Earl Muntz began his career as a used-car salesman. He began appearing on radio and television to promote his cars beginning his notoriety. Muntz is credited with starting the "this guy's insane, come take advantage of his crazy prices" school of salesmanship. In some commercials, he would promise to take a sledgehammer and smash a car on television if the car wasn't sold that day. He screamed and proclaimed, "I buy them retail and sell 'em wholesale -- it's more fun that way!" 

    Muntz would do anything for publicity. During the height of the McCarthy era, he even contemplated joining the Communist Party in order to get more exposure. Muntz made $72 million in the car business, and in the process he became a celebrity. Bob Hope and Jack Benny used his name as a punch line, tour buses regularly stopped at his lot and in 1943, pranksters at the Rose Bowl spelled out his name at halftime.

    Muntz went from cars to televisions and distinguished himself by making a fortune and by skimping on components in order to keep his prices low. Engineers of a certain age still refer to the practice of "Muntzing,” which means reducing something to the absolute minimum number of parts it requires in order to run. Muntz was famous for walking up to his engineer's workbenches and snipping out capacitors that he considered to be "extra.” He reportedly always carried a pair of insulated nippers with him.

    In the early 1960s, he began producing the Muntz Stereo-Pak, a 4-track system. Bill Lear took a ride in a car with a Muntz stereo in 1963 and was so impressed that he immediately drove over to see Muntz and signed a distribution deal. Lear installed Muntz players in several Lear Jets, and began taking the players apart to find ways to improve upon their design. And so the 8-track was born.

    Muntz died in 1987. By that time he had shifted the focus of his business to cellular phones. There were many other ventures -- projection TVs (he named his daughter Tee Vee, although she is usually called Tina) and aluminum houses, to name two. Muntz was married seven times and drove a custom Lincoln Continental with a TV built into the dashboard.

  • Valdemar Poulsen

    Valdemar Poulsen

    Developer, magnetic wire recorder

  • George Westinghouse

    George Westinghouse

    Westinghouse Electric
    Developer, alternating current (AC)

    1846-1914
     

    • Developed alternating current for light and power.
    • Filed more than 360 patents and founded 60 companies including Westinghouse Electric Corp.
    A brilliant visionary and inventor, George Westinghouse developed alternating current (AC) for light and power. Although he was a college dropout, he filed more than 360 patents and started 60 companies, including Pittsburgh-based Westinghouse Electric Corp. Among his inventions were the gas turbine engine and electric locomotive as well as the electrical transformers that enabled the large-scale electrification of cities and the development of nuclear-powered ships. It was Westinghouse's radar that detected Japanese planes converging on Pearl Harbor -- although too late to avoid catastrophe. And he was also responsible for the first commercial radio broadcast on CBS, in Pittsburgh in 1924.

    Born in Central Bridge, N.Y., in 1846, Westinghouse was the eighth of 10 children. When his family moved to Schenectady, his father opened a shop for agricultural machinery and small steam engines, giving George the opportunity to work with machinery.

    When he was 20, he was on a train that violently stopped to avoid an oncoming locomotive, resulting in many injured passengers. He developed a method of using brakes actuated by compressed air that became a worldwide standard and founded the Westinghouse Air Brake Company in 1869. With the increase in rail traffic and development of railroad yards, he recognized the need for better signaling devices and interlocking switches and founded the Union Switch and Signal Company in 1881. A well drilled in the yard of his home in Pittsburgh led to several dozen inventions for the control and distribution of natural gas as well as a company to distribute gas.

    His work then focused on a better distribution system for electric current. He had invented a reduction valve, which permitted high-pressure gas from the well to be delivered at low pressure at the point of use. He believed a similar device could work with electricity, so he turned a secondary generator developed in England into a transformer. This was the key to widespread distribution of electric power.

    By the mid-1880s, he was pushing an AC delivery system that could be transmitted for miles; generators could be bigger and built out of town. Westinghouse began competing with Thomas Edison for the franchise in dozens of cities. The contest between the stubborn tycoon-inventors has been called "the War of the Currents" and played an important role in developing the electric chair.

    Edison favored direct current (DC) as an energy source. Westinghouse believed AC was cheaper, more efficient and did not require the thick copper wiring DC current needed for conduction. However, when Edison realized that AC could be fatal, he sought to discredit his business rival Westinghouse.

    Despite Edison’s attempts, in just 10 years the value of the AC system had been demonstrated. Westinghouse teamed with Nikola Tesla (1857-1943) and bought the patent for the polyphase induction motor, which made his AC system unique. It debuted in Colorado in 1891, where a power plant using a 100-horsepower Westinghouse alternator sent electricity 2.6 miles to a motor-driven mill. In 1893, the Westinghouse Electric Co. lit the first Columbia Exposition in Chicago and in 1895 harnessed the Niagara Falls to generate electricity for the lights of Buffalo, NY, 22 miles away. Westinghouse Electric made the world's biggest electrical generators, employing more than 20,000 during World War II. Westinghouse died in 1914. 

2000 Inductees

  • Benjamin Abrams

    Benjamin Abrams

    Founder of Emerson Radio and Phonograph Corp.

    The Emerson Radio and Phonograph Corp. was founded by Benjamin Abrams and his two brothers, Max and Louis, in 1922. In 1924, two years after the brothers had borrowed money to acquire the modest assets of the Emerson Record Company, the business introduced the first radio-phonograph combination. Subsequent “firsts” included a midget radio, clock radio, self-powered portable radio, transistorized pocket radio and portable air conditioner.

    Emerson was known for stylish Art Deco radios, such as the early 1940s Emerson Patriot and Fada Streamliner series, which now fetch as much as $1,000 from collectors. The originals sold for $19.95 to $65.95.

    In 1965 the corporation owned 20 subsidiaries and manufactured more than 100 products, among them television sets, radios, hi-fi combination, air conditioners and tape recorders. Benjamin was chairman of the board and chief executive officer and his brother Max was president of Emerson when they retired in 1966, months after the company was acquired by the National Union Electric Corp.

    Abrams was born on a farm in Rumania and immigrated to the United States when he was 12. He was followed a few years later by his brothers. He tuned pianos for $3 a week, sold magazines and then entered the phonograph and record business as a salesman.

    Abrams, who never attended high school, became vitally interested in educational television and in 1953 set up a $100,000 grant for 10 educational TV outlets. In 1954, an electronics laboratory in Rehoveth, Israel, made possible by his financial aid, was named for him. The Benjamin Abrams Communications Center, a completely equipped FM radio station at C.W. Post College, was made possible by Abrams’ contributions.

  • Robert Adler

    Robert Adler

    TV remote control pioneer

    The creator of the first practical wireless TV remote control, Dr. Robert Adler, paved the way for TV viewers to become couch potatoes more than 40 years ago. However, Adler, 86, can hardly be classified as a sofa spud since he watches only about an hour of TV a week.

    Adler was associate director of research at Zenith in the 1950s when the company’s founder-president, Commander E.F. McDonald Jr., challenged his engineers to develop a device to “tune out annoying commercials.” Building on an approach using light beams for wireless remotes developed by fellow Zenith engineer Eugene Polley, Adler devised the idea of using inaudible sound waves to turn the TV on and off, change channels and mute the sound.

    The ultrasonic remote control, which later became known in millions of living rooms as “The Clicker,” first arrived in stores in 1956. Despite its widespread use in later years, the remote was not immediately popular because initially it added $100 to the price of a TV. (In fact, it wasn’t until 1985 that there were more TVs sold with remotes than without.) Still, Adler’s ultrasonic remote was adopted by the entire industry for a quarter century—and used in more than 9 million TVs until it was superceded by infrared remotes in the early 1980s.

    With more than 180 patents, Adler’s work covers ultrasonic and acousto-optical devices, vacuum tubes and circuits as well as the first electromechanical I.F. filter, electron beam parametric amplifiers and ultrasonic touch system. He has been honored as a Member of the National Academy of England, an IEEE Fellow and recipient of the Edison Medal. Adler officially “retired” as Zenith’s vice president of research in 1982 but remains active as a technical consultant.

  • Edwin Armstrong

    Edwin Armstrong

    Creator of FM radio

    In 1937, Edwin Armstrong built a 425-foot radio tower on the Palisades in New Jersey, from which he could see the far tip of Long Island miles away. It was from this tower that FM radio was launched as a broadcast medium.

    Armstrong had long been dissatisfied with the quality of the AM signal, which is easily upset by the weather and other stations. By 1933 he had devised a method of transmission—frequency modulation (FM)—that could eliminate such interference from other signals.

    The prolific Armstrong also invented the regenerative circuit, the superheterodyne and the feedback circuit, which raised the sensitivity of radio receivers. His continuous-wave oscillator made it practical to transmit sound as well as Morse code via radio. Later, Armstrong’s circuits also made possible the transmission of images, paving the way for today’s satellite communications. As a student at Columbia University, Armstrong was already famous. The superheterodyne circuit he invented in 1917 gave the Allied armies in World War I a valuable edge in radio communications.

    However Armstrong had trouble winning commercial acceptance of FM. The national radio networks knew that FM threatened their own operations, and mobilized their influence to thwart it. Radio giant RCA, the parent company of NBC, refused to license Armstrong’s invention on terms he could accept, and launched a long, bitter legal feud over patents. Armstrong fought the case all the way to the Supreme Court, but RCA won the right to use FM on its own terms. Armstrong committed suicide in 1954 in Manhattan.

  • John Logie Baird

    John Logie Baird

    Developer of television

    John Logie Baird’s primitive television was the first that could “see at a distance.” One day in 1925, a startled office boy put down the papers he was carrying, marveling as he watched his image beamed across a London office by Baird’s device.
     
    Baird’s mechanical system made the world take notice because he could make it work, broadcasting moving images across the Atlantic while rival Philo Farnsworth had produced only a thin white line across a screen. Scholars may still debate the “real” inventor of television, yet there is no doubt Baird played a significant role.
     
    A Scotsman, Baird successfully demonstrated television before an audience of writers, scientists and engineers in London on Jan. 26, 1926. On March 6, 1927, The New York Times declared, “Baird was the first to achieve television at all, over any distance.”
     
    In 1930, the Baird “televisor” made a spectacular hit at 10 Downing Street for the first simultaneous broadcast of pictures with sound. Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald watched Gracie Fields sing and declared it “the most wonderful miracle.”
     
    Baird and Farnsworth collaborated between 1934 and 1936, improving Farnsworth’s 1934 “image dissector” so that it was transmitting twice as many images per second. Even so, Baird’s system was mechanical, whereas his competitors were advancing an electronic system. By 1936, the BBC was trying out the television systems of both Baird and Marconi - EMI. After a few weeks, the electronic system had proved its superiority, and Baird’s system was dropped. 

    In addition to his work as inventor and entrepreneur, Baird played a role in developing secret signaling techniques for the government during World War II.

  • William Balderston

    William Balderston

    Former president, Philco Corp.; leader in developing car radio

    William Balderston, who worked his way up in the electronics industry to become head of Philco Corp., helped mastermind the idea of putting radios into cars and radar units on ships and planes. Balderston was president and chairman of the Philco Corp., a major producer of radios and television sets. In 1930, Philco bought rights to a radio that could be operated in a car, and near the end of Balderston’s presidency (1948–1954), Philco became first in the United States in car-radio sales.

    Balderston began his career when he went to work for his father-in-law, who operated the Ray-O-Vac Co. in Madison, Wis. Balderston was hired by Philco in 1930 to organize sales of radios to automobile manufacturers. He rose through the ranks and was named executive vice president in 1946 and president in 1948.

    While Balderston led Philco in the field of car radios, he also was in charge of the development and mass-production of about $400 million in radar and other electronic equipment for the armed forces. In recognition of his service, President Truman awarded him the Certificate of Merit in 1947.

    After the war, he guided the company back into a peacetime economy by developing television and electronics production. In 1961 Philco was bought by the Ford Motor Company and became its subsidiary.

    Balderston also served on the Committee for Economic Development, a national organization of businessmen and scholars concerned with major economic issues, and was a member of the Board of the Greater Philadelphia Movement and a director of the Boys’ Clubs of America.

  • John Bardeen

    John Bardeen

    Co-inventor of the transistor

    A physicist, John Bardeen was working with scientist Walter Brattain at AT&T’s Bell Laboratories when they developed the first semiconductor transistor in 1947. It was a breakthrough moment, for the transistor replaced the large, inefficient vacuum tubes and paved the way for every electronic device created since the 1950s. Later adapted by William Shockley for wider use, the transistor earned the three men the 1956 Nobel Prize in physics.

    The son of a dean of the medical school at the University of Wisconsin, Bardeen joined the faculty at the University of Illinois in 1951 and soon began the research that made him the first person to receive two Nobel Prizes in the same field.

    In 1972, Bardeen was again a cowinner of the Nobel Prize in physics for the discovery of superconductivity, in which electricity travels with little or no resistance. A tremendous scientific achievement, the superconductivity theory took nearly two decades to develop. Bardeen’s work was done with Leon Cooper and J. Robert Schrieffer.

    Bardeen also served on the President’s Science Advisory Committee (1959–1962) and on the White House Science Council in the early 1980s. He won the National Medal of Science in 1965 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1976. He earned his B.S. and M.S. in electrical engineering at the University of Wisconsin and his Ph.D. in mathematical physics from Princeton in 1936.

    Sony Corp. endowed a $3 million faculty position at the University of Illinois in Bardeen’s honor, noting, “Sony’s achievements, from Japan’s first transistor radio to the latest digital processors, owe a significant debt to the scientific contributions of Professor Bardeen.”

  • Alexander Graham Bell

    Alexander Graham Bell

    Inventor of the telephone

    Patent No. 174,465 for “improvements in telegraphy”—the telephone—often is called the most valuable patent ever issued. After experimenting with various acoustic devices, Alexander Graham Bell produced the first intelligible electronic transmission with a message to his assistant, Thomas Watson, in the next room of their Boston lab: “Mr. Watson, come here. I want to see you.”
     
    Bell attended the Royal High School in Edinburgh before going to study at Edinburgh University. In 1870 his parents decided to move to Ontario, Canada, when doctors suggested the change of climate might provide a cure for his ill health. In 1871 Bell went to the United States, where he became a professor of vocal physiology in Boston. The Scot immigrant was 29 years old at the time, earning his living as a teacher of deaf children. Both his mother and his wife had hearing impairments. One of his most famous students was Helen Keller, the brilliant blind and deaf author.
     
    In addition to the telephone, Bell held patents for the telegraph, photophone, phonograph, hydrofoils, and a selenium cell. Bell experimented with fax machines and with an early form of fiber optics. He developed helicopter design and X-ray photography. In the early 1890s, Bell conducted aviation experiments and ran the National Geographic magazine. In 1898, Congress appointed him as a Smithsonian regent.
     
    After his son Edward died in childbirth of a collapsed lung, Bell toiled in his lab to develop a respirator apparatus that would help people breathe. His “vacuum jacket” was more than 40 years ahead of the iron lung. And when President Garfield was shot and physicians were trying to locate bullets, Bell invented the metal detector, too late to save the president.

  • Andre Blay

    Andre Blay

    Creator of home video sales

    The home-video revolution was born with a little ad in TV Guide. In 1977, Andre Blay, a Detroit businessman who owned Magnetic Video, was offering Hollywood movies for sale in the home-video format. Blay had licensed 50 best-selling titles from 20th Century Fox, including The Sound of Music and Patton. Now he was offering these movies to the public through a direct-mail sales operation called the Video Club of America.
     
    Although VCR owners were few at the time, 9,000 joined Blay’s club, and fortuitously, his movies went on sale just as VCR prices dropped below $1,000. The French Connection and M.A.S.H. proved especially popular, and by the end of the year, Blay had sold a quarter of a million cassettes and his factory was running 24 hours a day to produce more tapes.
     
    Blay’s idea of selling feature films to the consumer had become a bonanza and the home video tape bandwagon was rolling.
     
    While video sales and rentals are commonplace today, Blay’s idea was revolutionary at the time. In the late 1970s, Hollywood executives feared the competition of the VCR. But when Blay’s initial proposal arrived at 20th Century Fox, the company’s economic fortunes were running low and they were ripe for a new idea that promised to make some money. Blay paid Fox an advance of $300,000, plus a minimum of $500,000 a year against a royalty of $7.50 on each cassette. He selected appealing titles like Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid and Hello, Dolly! and benefited from having the right idea at the right time. He later sold his successful company to Fox for $7.2 million.

  • Walter Brattain

    Walter Brattain

    Co-inventor of the transistor

    In the late 1930s, Bell Labs was searching for materials that could produce amplification of current in a solid material instead of a vacuum tube. Physicist William Shockley assigned two scientists to the task: Walter Brattain and John Bardeen.

    Brattain and Bardeen, working in 1947, observed that when electrical signals were applied to contacts on a crystal of germanium, the power became amplified. It was a breakthrough moment in the development of the transistor, which made possible tremendous advances in electronics. Brattain’s investigation of the surface properties of solids, plus his personal creativity and persistence, helped the scientists triumph over technical obstacles.

    After AT&T unveiled the transistor, Shockley created a refinement that made transistors commercially practical in 1951. However Brattain resented publicity that implied Shockley was one of the inventors, and Bardeen left Bell Labs in 1951 because of conflicts with Shockley.

    Brattain, Bardeen and Shockley won the 1956 Nobel Prize in physics for the transistor, a tiny chip of processed crystal whose name comes from a combination of “transfer” and “resistor.” The device regulates the flow of electric current through a combination of conductivity and resistance. Such a switch is crucial to digital communications. As transistors flooded the market, the electronics industry was forever changed.
     
    Brattain was nonetheless modest about his accomplishments. Upon accepting the Nobel Prize, he said, “One indeed needs to be humble…when he thinks how fortunate he was to be in the right environment at the right time.’’ He earned his B.S. from Whitman College, his M.S. from the University of Oregon and his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota.

  • Karl Ferdinand Braun

    Karl Ferdinand Braun

    Invented the oscillograph

    Developed as a monitor a century ago by German scientist and Nobel Prize winner Karl Ferdinand Braun, the cathode ray tube (CRT) was a crucial component in the development of television. The modern CRT was born out of the desire to unravel the mysteries of electricity. Scientists working with early CRTs noticed a greenish light emitting in rays, caused by electrons near the electrodes. These rays were christened “cathode rays” after the cathode electrodes that could not be controlled.
     
    But in 1897 Braun found a way to produce a narrow stream of electrons and invented a fluorescent screen that produced visible light when they hit it. Thus millions of TVs, oscilloscopes and computer monitors were born. Braun, who was born in 1850 in Fulda, Germany, was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics in 1909. Vladimir Zworykin and Boris Rosing built on Braun’s work when they were trying to transmit pictures by wire in a physics laboratory. Zworykin and Rosing experimented with a cathode ray tube, developed by Braun, and in 1910 Rosing exhibited a TV system using a mechanical scanner in the transmitter and the electronic Braun tube in the receiver.
     
    So the next time you’re watching television, remember Braun, Zworykin, Rosing and Philo Farnsworth. They were, respectively, the inventors of the first cathode-ray tube-scanning device (late 19th century), the first TV camera tube (1923), and the first electronic TV system (1927). Braun died in 1918 in New York.

  • Nolan Bushnell

    Nolan Bushnell

    Spurred the video game industry

    Nolan Bushnell, 56, is known as “the father of electronic entertainment.” He is the technology entrepreneur who kicked off the video game craze when he created the coin-operated “Pong” game and founded Atari Corp. in 1972 with $250. He served as CEO until he sold the company to Warner Communications Inc. in 1976 for $28 million. Atari, which developed such games as Breakout and Asteroids, was an industry pioneer of video games for consumer and coin-operated markets and achieved $2 billion in annual sales in 1981. However, after suffering heavy losses as interest in Atari products weakened, Warner sold the company in 1984.

    After his Atari venture, Bushnell founded Chuck E. Cheese Pizza Time Theater, a 250-restaurant chain featuring video game arcades. In 1981, he established Catalyst Technologies, a venture capital firm that served as an incubator for technology-oriented companies including Etak, a creator of automobile navigation systems that was later acquired by News Corp., and ByVideo. From 1991 to 1995 he served as the chairman of OCTuS, Inc., which created integrated voice and data communication systems. He also teamed with Commodore to develop interactive multimedia products.

    He currently serves as chairman and CEO of uWink.com Inc., a developer of an e-commerce, games and entertainment network housed on public touch screen terminals. In June 1999, Wave Systems Corp. named Bushnell, to its Board of Directors. In addition, the AMD Professional Gamers’ League appointed him as its first commissioner.
     
    A holder of numerous patents, Bushnell graduated from the University of Utah in 1968 with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering. He also attended Stanford University’s Graduate School.

  • Powel Crosley Jr.

    Powel Crosley Jr.

    First mass market radio

    Powell Crosley Jr.’s ingenuity gave America the Crosley radio, the Shelvador refrigerator, the Crosley car and numerous radio programs. His resume included the Crosley Radio Corp., stations WLW and WLWT, owner of the Cincinnati Reds baseball team from 1934–1961 and Crosley Field which he built. A lawyer’s son and college dropout, Crosley built an electric auto in 1900 at the age of 14. He made and sold the first lowpriced radio after being stunned to find that radios cost $100. After buying a 25-cent book called The ABC’s of Radio, he developed the “Harko” that sold for $9 using a new inexpensive material called formica. By 1922 he had become the world’s largest producer of radios and a millionaire. Crosley then turned his attention to WLW-AM, Cincinnati’s first licensed radio station that went live from Crosley’s College Hill home in 1922. The “Nation’s Station” was heard across the country.

    Crosley’s engineers also were experimenting with video. They transmitted the first pictures to Crosley Square from Carew Tower in 1946, two years before WLWT became Cincinnati’s first TV station. They tinkered with FM radio, facsimile machines and a two-cylinder car.

    Crosley entered the auto business with a $350 tiny car that was sold alongside Crosley radios—in appliance stores. However, only war material was produced from 1942 to 1945. Crosley built the Voice of America station to counter Nazi propaganda and was so successful Hitler called it ‘the Cincinnati Liars.’
     
    After the war, Crosley produced sedans, wagons and the “Hot Shot” two-seater and sold controlling interest in his radio and appliance businesses. He changed his company’s name to Crosley Motors Inc., but auto production ended in 1952.

  • Lee DeForest

    Lee DeForest

    Development of vacuum tube

    Of Lee DeForest’s more than 300 patents, the most important was the audion amplifier, which established the principle of the vacuum tube, in 1907. This basic “triode’’ tube made it possible to amplify and transmit sound, such as music and voice. His breakthrough boosted the development of radio, television and hundreds of other electronic marvels.

    To publicize his device, DeForest wanted to put opera star Enrico Caruso on the air and boldly asked the Metropolitan Opera’s manager for permission to do a radio broadcast. In the opera’s attic, DeForest installed his ramshackle transmitter, and for an antenna, used two long fishing poles, tying them to the flagpole on the roof.

    DeForest set up several listening locations in New York City. Hundreds of people gathered, all wired to earphones. On January 13, 1910, DeForest brought his invention to life and filled the sky with music. Though it had to wait another 13 years for its realization, the idea of broadcasting had been established.
     
    As a college student at Yale, Lee DeForest already had exhibited inventive talents, improving the typebar movement for his typewriter and creating a puzzle game and a better compass joint. He became fascinated by radio waves, discovered 10 years earlier by Heinrich Hertz. In 1899, DeForest wrote on these waves in his doctoral dissertation. Several years later, DeForest invented the prototype of what became the standard radio tube, the first effective device for electrical amplification. Vacuum tubes quickly became the key components of all radio, phone, radar, TV and computer systems, finally supplanted by the invention of the transistor in 1947. DeForest earned his Ph.D from Yale.

  • Ray Dolby

    Ray Dolby

    Dolby Laboratories, Inc.
    Founder and chairman

    1933-2013

    Ray Dolby is the name seen on thousands of movie marquees, the inventor who took the hiss out of tape recording and transformed movie sound. Put simply, the invention that bears Dolby’s name reduces background noise so you can hear the true sound of the recording.
     
    As a child, Dolby showed an early preoccupation with sound. He started playing the piano at 10, then clarinet, fascinated by how reeds vibrated and why things sounded the way they did. He puttered around his father’s workshop, even had his own projector and camera, and for a while nurtured an ambition to become a Hollywood cameraman.
     
    In 1948, he was the projectionist for a local film showing when he crossed paths with Alex Poniatoff, founder of Ampex tape recording. Impressed by the encounter, Poniatoff invited the teenager to work with him. Dolby went to school three hours a day and worked five at Ampex.
     
    After college at Stanford and Cambridge, Dolby spent two years in India setting up a scientific instrumentation laboratory as a United Nations adviser. Noise reduction still was on his mind, however, and he kept a recorder at hand.

    By 1965, the inventor set up Dolby Labs in London, with his first customer being Decca Records. Dolby’s name was becoming inextricably linked with the antihiss process, as he continually developed better ways to banish background noise. 
     
    Dolby, who was a director of the San Francisco Opera, a governor of the city’s symphony and an avid sailor, was also married with two sons. He received his BS in electrical engineering from Stanford in 1957 and his Ph.D. in physics from Cambridge.

  • Allen Dumont

    Allen Dumont

    Founder of the DuMont Television Network and the first CRTs

    In the 1930s and 1940s, Allen DuMont was at the forefront of TV technology and programming. DuMont Laboratories perfected the first practical cathode ray tubes (CRTs) and the first all-electronic TV receivers.

    In the 1930s DuMont, an electrical engineer and vice president of a New Jersey radio-parts firm, began working in his garage on an inexpensive, long-lasting CRT.

    By 1947, DuMont had formed the beginnings of a television network, with stations in New York, Washington and Pittsburgh. Because of his partnership with Paramount Pictures, the FCC refused to permit DuMont to acquire more stations.

    To survive, his network relied on innovative strategies. In 1947, with “The Small Fry Club” DuMont established television’s first children’s program. “Captain Video and His Video Rangers,” an outer-space adventure, also became hugely popular.

    It was on the DuMont Network that comedian Jackie Gleason developed the format for “The Honeymooners,’’ the classic 1950s series that was later broadcast by NBC. And here, reporter Mike Wallace first aggressively questioned public figures on the air.
     
    DuMont pondered how to counteract successful competitors like “Texaco Star Theater,’’ starring Milton Berle. Rather than offer another comedy, the DuMont Network aired Bishop Fulton J. Sheen’s “Life Is Worth Living,’’ a religious show that developed a loyal following.
     
    In 1952, the Dumont Network aired professional football and basketball, but in time, lost out to other networks that could afford to pay more for the television rights. Eventually, DuMont was forced to sell his stations, but the DuMont Network’s legacy in programming remains an important chapter in television history.

  • Thomas Edison

    Thomas Edison

    Invented the light bulb, storage battery and phonograph

    In his life the prolific Thomas Edison patented 1,093 of his inventions. The light bulb, phonograph, storage battery, mimeograph and many other creations sprang to life from Edison’s ideas, sometimes by plan, other times simply by accident.

    Not considered a bright student as a youngster, Edison’s hearing problems caused him difficulty and his attendance in school was sporadic. His mother took him out of school at age 10 and gave the boy books to read. He became most interested in chemistry and set up a laboratory in his family’s basement.

    Two years later Thomas moved his laboratory to an empty railcar on the Grand Trunk Railway where he was given a job as trainboy. Legend has it that while working on the railway, Edison saved the life of a station official’s child who had fallen onto the tracks of an oncoming train. To thank Edison for saving the child’s life, the father taught Thomas how to use the telegraph.

    Over the years Edison started work on improving the telegraph, which led to his invention of the automatic telegraph, duplex telegraph and message printer. In 1876 Edison built a new laboratory in Menlo Park, where he invented the carbon-button transmitter, and the cylinder phonograph. With the help and backing of J. P. Morgan and others, Edison opened the Edison Electric Company.
     
    In 1879 Thomas Edison unveiled his incandescent light bulb. And as the 1880s began, Edison planned and supervised the construction of the first commercial, central power system in lower Manhattan.

  • Carl Eilers

    Carl Eilers

    Developer of stereo FM and stereo TV

    Four decades ago, high-fidelity stereo sound revolutionized the radio listening experience, and Carl G. Eilers helped make that vision a reality. Before the FCC adopted the Stereo FM Broadcast Standard in 1961, high-fidelity two-channel audio was limited to phonographs. Eilers’ pioneering work brought crystal-clear stereophonic sound to tens of millions of FM radio listeners worldwide.
     
    A senior scientist with Zenith Electronics Corp. for more than 50 years, Eilers began his career working on subscription television technology in 1948. During the 1950s, he turned his attention to developing the stereophonic frequency modulation radio broadcast system that is now in use around the globe.
     
    While seemingly mundane in today’s digital world, Eilers’ stereo FM innovations meant that, for the first time, radio stations could transmit two stereophonic channels with full high-fidelity on each channel, signals that could also be received by existing monophonic FM receivers without loss of quality.
     
    Likewise, Eilers’ advances, MTS (multichannel television sound) and SAP (secondary audio programming) have enhanced the television viewing experience. Thus, Eilers holds a unique place in the annals of consumer electronics technology history as co-inventor of two key industry standards —stereo FM radio and MTS stereo TV. Eilers, who led development of Zenith’s Emmy Award-winning MTS stereo TV system, adopted by the industry in 1984, has been working on high-definition television (HDTV) in recent years.
     
    A lifelong member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Eilers has received many industry honors for his work, including the IEEE Fellow Award, the Masaura Ibuka Consumer Electronics Award, the Audio Engineering Society Fellow Award and the R&D 100 Award. Eilers has been granted 17 U.S. patents.

  • Philo T. Farnsworth

    Philo T. Farnsworth

    Developed TV based on cathode ray tube

    Philo Farnsworth believed that mechanical TV was a dead end, and that a new way—using the cathode ray tube—would open worlds of possibility. When he was only a teenager, he already was piecing together his ideas on television.

    In his San Francisco apartment in September, 1927, the 21-year-old Farnsworth produced the first all-electronic television image, paving the way for the system that virtually every home in America enjoys today.

    Inventor Vladimir Zworykin visited Farnsworth in 1930 to discuss the creation, and later, so did RCA’s David Sarnoff, who had been working on a parallel track. Sarnoff tried to buy the patent from Farnsworth, but Farnsworth refused his overture, marking the beginning of a legal battle over patent rights.

    It was clear that television had a bright future. In 1934 in Philadelphia, Farnsworth demonstrated live TV—a black and white, 10" x 12" picture—drawing crowds so large that customers had to change seats every 15 minutes.
     
    Farnsworth eventually won his patent battle, largely on the testimony of a former teacher who produced some of Farnsworth’s early sketches. RCA licensed the technology from Farnsworth and paid him royalties, but World War II made it difficult for Farnsworth to make much money at the time. After the war, Sarnoff pushed ahead with the development of television. Farnsworth also did research on nuclear fusion, invented the first simple electronic microscope, and used radio waves to get direction (radar) and black light for seeing at night. Farnsworth attended Brigham Young University.

  • Reginald Aubrey Fessenden

    Reginald Aubrey Fessenden

    Developer of radio broadcasting

    While Guglielmo Marconi was transmitting the dots and dashes of Morse code, another scientist, Canadian Reginald Fessenden, was pursuing a loftier goal. Fessenden aimed to transmit the human voice and music—without wires.

    As head of the electrical engineering department at the University of Pittsburgh, Fessenden developed a way of sending Morse code more effectively then Marconi was doing. Fessenden devised the theory of the “continuous wave,” a means to superimpose sound onto a radio wave and transmit this signal to a receiver. After years of experimentation, on December 23, 1900, he successfully transmitted the sound of a human voice between two 50-foot towers.

    But Fessenden still had to fight to prove his theory. After struggling to obtain financial backing for further experiments, Fessenden beamed the first long-range transmissions of voice on Christmas Eve, 1906, from a station in Massachusetts. This first radio program featured the inventor playing “O Holy Night” on his violin, then singing carols with his wife and a friend. Hundreds of miles out in the Atlantic, astonished ship radio operators heard the Christmas music.
     
    Remarkable though his accomplishment was, Fessenden never achieved the fame of Marconi and others. And although Fessenden’s work made voice radio possible, it took another 10 years before it became commonplace.

  • Avery Fisher

    Avery Fisher

    Invented the transistorized amplifier, combination stereo radio/phonograph

    An amateur violinist, who began a notable career by building radios to improve sound quality for his own enjoyment. His achievements include the first transistorized amplifier and the stereo radio-phonograph combination. He sold his hi-fi components at premium prices, earning them a reputation as the Rolls Royce of sound equipment.

    Fisher graduated in 1929 from New York University. He worked for two publishing firms, G. P. Putnam’s Sons and Dodd, Mead & Company during which he began his endeavors in audio design. He constructed his radios to obtain better sound than available models delivered. By 1937 he had made significant improvements in the design of amplifiers, tuners and speakers and established his first company, Philharmonic Radio.

    In 1945 Fisher sold Philharmonic Radio and founded Fisher Radio, which produced high-fidelity components from a factory on the site now occupied by Lincoln Center. His engineering staff was comprised of the brightest audio technicians lured away from European companies.

    In 1956 Fisher produced the first transistorized amplifier. Two years later the company developed the first stereo radio and phonograph combination. From 1959 to 1961, the company improved AM-FM stereo tuner design, and it increased the power and improved the sensitivity of its components.

    When the audio market veered toward mass merchandising in 1969, Fisher sold the company to Emerson for $31 million. Emerson later sold it to Sanyo of Japan. Fisher consulted for both Emerson and Sanyo.

    As a philanthropist, Fisher sat on numerous boards. Lincoln Center’s Philharmonic Hall was renamed Avery Fisher Hall in 1973 after he donated $10.5 million. 

  • Frank Freimann

    Frank Freimann

    President of Magnavox

    Fred Freimann, president of Magnavox Corp., often referred to as a merchandising genius, is credited with creating a policy of selective distribution to combat widespread price-cutting in the early consumer electronics industry. Cutting out distributors was the cornerstone of the merchandising philosophy. Magnavox sold directly, without middlemen, to about 2,200 dealers who owned 3,000 stores. The company produced stereo high-fidelity phonographs, big screen television sets and radio-phono-TV combinations known as “stereo theatres.”

    Freimann, born in Budapest, Hungary in 1909, moved to Chicago when he was 7. As a child he was intensely interested in science and electricity, and although he lacked formal engineering training, he graduated from Crane Technical High School. At 19 he lectured at the Engineering Club at Notre Dame and in 1931, was the youngest man to be named a fellow-member of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers.
     
    His first job was with the Lyradion Co., which manufactured radio-phonographs and he was chief engineer when the company folded in 1928. He then founded Radio Research Service Co., soon renamed the Electro-Acoustics Products Co. that specialized in sound equipment, including early movie sound. When a movie equipment producer went bankrupt in 1930 owing the company $50,000, he turned to Magnavox for financing to stay afloat. In 1938, Magnavox itself went into voluntary bankruptcy. Freimann was given the choice of raising $200,000 to repay his loan or taking an active role in the reorganized company’s management; he chose the latter. He was hired as executive vice president and largest stockholder of a company that had almost no money. He became president and CEO in 1950.

  • Paul Galvin

    Paul Galvin

    Founded Motorola

    Over seven decades since the Galvin Manufacturing Corp. was created, Paul Galvin, a self-educated and twice-failed businessman and his offspring have built Motorola into an engineering company with landmark training programs. Since 1928, Motorola has reinvented itself many times building car radios, solid state devices for televisions, cellular phones, pagers, integrated circuits and chips and even a global telecommunications satellite system.

    The founding brothers, Paul and Joseph Galvin, were born in Harvard, Illinois. They believed automobiles and radio would provide a lucrative market for storage batteries and in 1921, formed the Stewart Battery Company that failed two years later. They then built “battery eliminators,” a soon-obsolete device that adapted battery-operated radios to household current.

    William Lear teamed with Galvin in 1934 to develop the automobile dashboard radio they named the “Motorola,” the motorized Victrola. Galvin demonstrated the prototype in his Studebaker. Motorola produced millions of car radios, followed by two-way radios for police and fire services.

    World War II began the quest to miniaturize electronics technology as well as an insatiable demand for radios. Galvin’s research team designed the first two-way portable radio—a 5-pound AM device dubbed the “handie-talkie.” By 1945, 130,000 walkie-talkies had sold.
     
    In the 1950s, Motorola manufactured the first portable television sets and home audio systems. Galvin joined by his son, Robert and Daniel Noble, created a research park to examine the commercial potential of transistors and solid state electronics and later, semi-conductors and silicon. Motorola also developed the first automotive alternator. Galvin’s grandson Chris is the third Galvin to serve as chairman.

  • Charles Ginsberg

    Charles Ginsberg

    Leader in developing video recording

    The race was intense to be first to create a magnetic tape and a recorder to produce television images. Charles Ginsburg, an electrical and radio engineer at Ampex Corp. was put in charge of a six-member research team that went head to head against much larger electronics companies pursuing the same goal.

    Working by trial and error, the team conquered the technical hurdles and in 1956 introduced the world’s first practical videotape recorder (VTR) and the tape to go with it. The achievement earned Ampex its first Emmy Award.

    The system used a rapidly rotating recording head to apply high-frequency signals onto a reel of magnetic tape. The VTR revolutionized television broadcasting because recorded programs that could be edited replaced most live broadcasts. In 1956, CBS became the first network to employ VTR technology.

    Born in San Francisco, Ginsburg graduated with a B.A. from San Jose State in 1948 then worked as a studio and transmitter engineer at radio station KQW in San Jose, now KCBS in San Francisco. He remained there until 1951, when he received the pivotal call from Alexander M. Poniatoff, founder and president of Ampex located in Redwood City, Calif., who believed Ginsburg could help him with the historic project. In 1952 he joined Ampex and held the position of vice president of Advanced Technology from 1975 until his retirement in 1986.
     
    In 1990 Ginsburg was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, where he was credited with “one of the most significant technological advances to affect broadcasting and program production since the beginning of television itself.” He died in 1992 in Eugene, Oregon.

  • Peter Goldmark

    Peter Goldmark

    Invented the 33 RPM vinyl LP record and the first color TV system

    CBS Records became an industry leader in the 1940’s despite the fact that Chairman and CEO of CBS William Paley only reluctantly supported Peter Goldmark, the CBS staff inventor and engineer, in developing the long-playing record.

    Then when Goldmark, who worked for Dr. Frank N. Stanton head of CBS research, invented the first color television system in 1940, Paley vetoed the idea believing that it posed a threat to radio. However, when Paley realized the potential of TV, he quickly capitalized on it.

    In 1949, Goldmark’s system was approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for general use. But the CBS system was not compatible with black-and-white sets, spurring David Sarnoff to ask his own scientists to develop a compatible system. Three years later they were successful and the FCC made the RCA system the industry standard.
     
    But Goldmark and CBS won another battle in the early 1950’s when their 33 1/3 RPM longer play records decisively beat RCA’s 45 RPM recording system. Goldmark had engineered a revolution in the recording industry.
     
    Goldmark later turned his attention to a thin-film video recording device, but it was not a commercial success.
     
    Goldmark was born in 1906 in Budapest but was living in Westchester County, New York when he died in 1977.

  • Dr. Sidney Harman

    Dr. Sidney Harman

  • Heinrich Hertz

    Heinrich Hertz

  • Masaru Ibuka

    Masaru Ibuka

  • Eldridge Johnson

    Eldridge Johnson

  • Jack Kilby

    Jack Kilby

  • John Koss Sr.

    John Koss Sr.

  • David Lachenbruch

    David Lachenbruch

  • James B. Lansing

    James B. Lansing

  • Saul Marantz

    Saul Marantz

  • Guglielmo Marconi

    Guglielmo Marconi

  • Konosuke Matsushita

    Konosuke Matsushita

  • Cmdr. Eugene McDonald Jr.

    Cmdr. Eugene McDonald Jr.

  • Akio Morita

    Akio Morita

  • Robert Noyce

    Robert Noyce

  • Alexander M. Poniatoff

    Alexander M. Poniatoff

  • Ed Roberts

    Ed Roberts

  • David Sarnoff

    David Sarnoff

  • Hermon Hosmer Scott

    Hermon Hosmer Scott

  • Yuma Shiraishi

    Yuma Shiraishi

  • William Shockley

    William Shockley

  • Ross Siragusa Sr.

    Ross Siragusa Sr.

  • Shizuo Takano

    Shizuo Takano

  • Nikola Tesla

    Nikola Tesla

  • Jack Wayman

    Jack Wayman

  • Vladimir Zworykin

    Vladimir Zworykin

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