The AWA Review, Volume 32

2019 Review Editor’s Forward

​Once again we are fortunate to have eight interesting papers recounting various events and milestones in the history of electronic communication. Perhaps the most recognized milestones noted at one place or another in this issue are the discovery of radio in the 1890s, the adoption of the RCA compatible color television system standard by the FCC in 1953, and the introduction of radio in space on the Sputnik satellite launched in October of 1957. In addition, there are historical accounts of the Radio College of Canada (RCC), F. B. Chambers & Co. of Philadelphia, the Heath Company of Heathkit fame, and contributions to early radio technology by individuals affiliated with Harvard’s Cruft Laboratory. Below is a brief summary of each of the eight articles in the order that they appear.

(Article Summarys Below)

We thank all of our authors for sharing their work with us. I personally thank each one of them for the cordial interactions we have had while preparing the manuscripts. I also want to thank our three associate editors, Joe Knight, Bill Burns, and Tim Martin, and our anonymous peer reviewers who have worked so hard and given so much time to review and edit these papers. Please note that Tim Martin, WB2VVQ, joined the AWA Review staff as an associate editor this year. Finally, I would like to thank Fiona Raven for the wonderful article layouts that we have come to expect each year—and especially for the original layouts on the covers of the AWA Review this year. Fiona’s professional and creative work never ceases to amaze me.

As you may know, several years ago the AWA created the Robert P. Murray Award for the best paper in the AWA Review each year. The first award for the best paper was presented at the AWA Conference in Rochester last year for an article in the 2017 issue. We wish to memorialize this award that went to Bart Lee, K6VK, for his outstanding paper entitled “The Wireless News.” Congratulations to Bart Lee for a job well done.

Once again I have enjoyed serving as the editor of the AWA Review, as I have for the past three years. I believe it is now time for me to retire so that I can pursue my passion for research and authoring another book.

I am pleased to announce that after the 2019 Review is published, Timothy Martin, WB2VVQ, of Lee, Massachusetts, will become the editor for the AWA Review. Tim has been a member of AWA for over 40 years and has an impressive technical background. He attended the State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook where he received his BE degree. While working at General Electric, he received his ME degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. During his 42 years with GE and General Dynamics, Tim worked mostly on inertial guidance of Navy Fleet Ballistic Missiles as a systems engineer. He is a professional engineer and is a member of IEEE and ARRL

Tim has worked closely with me on the preparation of the 2019 issue, and I can assure you he is a very capable, conscientious, and knowledgeable editor. I will assist Tim with the preparation of the 2020 issue to assure a smooth transition, but he will be the man in charge. Prospective authors should submit all material to Tim Martin at wb2vvq [at]

Eric Wenaas, Ph.D. Editor, AWA Review San Diego, CA

2019 Article Summaries

■   David Wunsch writes a tribute to Harvard’s radio past to honor major figures who were affiliated with Harvard’s Cruft Laboratory in the early days of wireless telegraphy and radio. This paper highlights five individuals—three professors, one student and a research fellow—who were central to that era, and who were all affiliated with Cruft Laboratory: Emory Leon Chaffee, George Washington Pierce, Arthur Kennelly, Glenn Browning, and Frederick Drake. Their contributions encompassed work on spark transmitters, early radio tubes, crystal controlled oscillators, wave propagation, mathematics of radio frequency circuits, and radio receivers for the growing broadcast consumer market.
■   Mike Molnar recounts the life of Jack Poppele, a notable but relatively unknown radio engineer with a career that began in 1922 and spanned over three decades to the time when color television standards were set in the 1950s. His life and career have come to light as the result of a donation by his family of artifacts, including documentation in the form of over 20 large scrapbooks that chronicle the life and times of this remarkable radio engineer. This window to the past shows that Jack Poppele was “the right man at the right time and in the right place.”
■   Mike Molnar contributes a second article describing the more than 20 scrap-books referenced in the previous article recounting the life of Jack Poppele. These scrapbooks, donated to the AWA by the Poppele family, now reside in the AWA Museum in Bloomfield, NY. The author has selected some of the more interesting documents Jack Poppele pasted into his scrapbooks, which document his many activities and contributions to the field of radio and television.
■   William Goodwin explores the history of F. B. Chambers & Co. of Philadelphia, and along the way describes some of the interesting radio products manufactured by the company. F. B. Chambers & Co. is believed to be the first radio manufacturing company to operate in greater Philadelphia. The company was formed circa 1904 in the home of Frank and Hester Chambers, who both participated in the operation of the company. The author says the devoted couple’s story is integral to their business development and is worthy of being chronicled and documented.
■   John Gilbert recounts the history of the Radio College of Canada (RCC) beginning from the time it was established in Toronto in 1928. RCC was one of several schools that trained Canadian radio operators in radio technology, Morse code, and the duties of radio operators onboard ships. The author obtained his Second-Class Certificate of Communications from RCC in 1959, and recalls the Radio Operator (RO) program—the primary subject of this article. The RO program of RCC was offered from around 1932 to 1964, when the Department of Transport, then the largest employer of graduates of the RCC RO courses, established its own radio operator training school near Ottawa.
■   Erich Brueschke and Michael Mack recount the history of the Heath Companies and describe a few of the very successful Heathkits that the Heath Company sold—beginning in 1947 with the O-1 Oscilloscope, the first Heathkit sold. The genesis of the company is traced back to the E. B. Heath Aerial Vehicle Company that was founded by Edward Bayard Heath in 1909. The name of the company and its ownership changed several times before becoming Heath Company shortly before 1947. Heath Company, built on the tenets of “hands-on learning,” a “build-it-yourself” approach, “cost savings,” and “customer service,” became the largest manufacturer of electronic kits in the world.
■   David and Julia Bart provide an interesting and comprehensive review of milestones in U.S. and Soviet space programs in which radio systems were first introduced in space in the 1950s on Soviet and U.S. satellites. The authors describe both the technical issues involved in putting radios in space as well as the political ramifications of satellite launches that touched off the space race. The focus is on Sputnik and Telstar, but the history of other early space programs and satellites are included in this fascinating article.
■   Eric Wenaas investigates the claims made by many historians and Teslaphiles (overly enthusiastic Tesla admirers) in support of the proposition that Tesla has priority in the discovery of radio. After researching the original published documents and comparing them with claims made by Teslaphiles, he exposes the canards (false accounts) and red herrings (accounts intended to mislead) that have been used to support claims of priority on behalf of Tesla.

From This Issue …..

Button to the right will take you to the Tesla Priority Article from Volume 32 of The AWA Review.