Table of Contents
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles
published October 1954 - April 1985. All copyrights are hereby acknowledged.
Carl Anderson and Jerry
Bishop in handcuffs?
Say it ain't so! Has the pair of good-natured, upstanding high-tech sleuths gone
to the Dark Side (George Lucas
was 18 years old in 1962 when this was written)? Read the tale entitled "Pure
Research Rewarded" as told in this 1962 issue of Popular Electronics
magazine to see how the two figure
into a plot to kill a local judge, and why they decide to cannibalize a service
station television set for parts. What has come over Carl and Jerry?
Carl & Jerry: Pure Research Rewarded
By John T. Frye W9EGV
Carl and Jerry were driving home from an electronic buying expedition to Center
City on a beautiful warm June afternoon.
"Sure feels good to be driving again," Carl remarked, caressing the steering
wheel. "I think I missed our car more than anything else down at school."
"Being cut off from Mom's cooking gave me that empty feeling," Jerry countered;
"but if you want to keep on driving you'd better get some gas. That gauge has been
bumping the pin for the last ten miles."
A couple of minutes later Carl pulled into a wayside filling station and stopped
at the pumps. Two men in ordinary sports clothes were working on a car in the wash-and-lube
area. Finally one of them, wearing an ill-fitting attendant's cap, came out to the
"Dollar's worth of gas, and you better check the oil and water," Carl said as
he stepped out to stretch his legs. The man put the nozzle into the gas tank and
started the pump.
"Hey, we only wanted a dollar's worth!" Jerry exclaimed as he saw the little
register wheels on the pump race past two dollars.
"Don't worry, Buster, you won't have to pay for it," the attendant said as he
pulled a large-caliber snub-nosed revolver from his pocket and trained it on Carl.
At the same time, what felt like the muzzle of a similar weapon was pressed against
the back of Jerry's neck by the other man who had approached unnoticed.
"Get into the station and see that you make it snappy," the man wearing the cap
The boys were marched through the display room of the station into a small customers'
lounge. Lying on the floor with his bare head resting in a small pool of blood from
a cut over one eye was a bound, middle-aged man wearing an attendant's uniform.
His eyes were closed, and he was not moving.
While the bareheaded man kept a gun trained on the boys, the one wearing the
attendant's cap tied their hands behind them, pushed them roughly down on a sofa,
and started tying their legs securely. Things had happened so fast that neither
Carl nor Jerry had uttered a word since they first stared into the yawning mouth
of that short-barreled revolver.
"You boys just stopped at the wrong time - for you," the man with the cap said
as he jerked at the ropes to see if they were tight. "We may need to get out of
here fast, and if we can't get our car ready in time we may have to use that Beetle
of yours. Keep quiet and you won't get hurt. Bill, turn on the radio for our guests.
Turn it up loud. That way no one will hear them if they're stupid enough to yell
and make me come in here and silence them permanently."
The bareheaded man turned on a radio resting on a table beside a portable TV
set. The other man, who was apparently the leader, grabbed up a telephone and jerked
the cord loose from the wall button. "Just in case," he said mockingly, brandishing
the telephone, as he and his partner left the room. He slammed the door behind them,
and locked it.
At the sound of the banging door, the man lying on the floor groaned and opened
"Boy! Am I glad to see you move!"
Carl exclaimed soulfully. "I thought you were dead. What's going on around here
"Men escaped convicts ... Going to kill Judge Granger, who sentenced them, when
he comes at four o'clock for regular weekly service check ... Had their car on lift
when they told me ... Managed to let it down with front tires on couple of big spikes
... Hit me on head with pistol barrel ... Have to change tires before. ..." His
voice died away as he lapsed into unconsciousness again.
"We're in a spot," Jerry offered. "I can't imagine their leaving any witnesses
after they kill the judge."
"So let's do something about it," Carl suggested as he strained against the confining
ropes. "I bunched my muscles while he was tying me, and that leaves a little slack.
Scoot over here so our backs are together and help me try to work my hands loose."
This sounded easier than it actually was; but, spurred on by the dark prospect
Jerry had mentioned, the two boys finally managed to untie Carl's hands. In a few
seconds he had freed his legs and had untied Jerry.
"Shall we untie him?" Jerry asked, pointing down at the unconscious man.
"Not yet. Being tied makes no difference to him, and he can't help. If we hear
them coming back, we may be able to pretend we're still tied up and surprise them;
but it won't work if they see him untied."
"Surprise won't help much against two men and two guns," Jerry pointed out. "That
window is barred like a jail cell. The bars are intended to keep burglars out, but
they do a fine job of keeping us in. Sure wish he hadn't thought to take that 'phone."
"Hey, maybe if we short-circuit the telephone wires, the operator will notice
something's wrong and send someone to investigate. "
"No good," Jerry objected. "She'd just think something was shorting the line
and would cut it loose from the switchboard. Late in the day as it is, a repairman
wouldn't be sent out until tomorrow. Even if one did come, he would only be tied
up, slugged, or killed. If only we had some way of talking over that line-" his
voice trailed off and his eyes took on the glassy look of concentration. "Keep an
ear to the door," he told Carl as he slipped a penknife out of his pocket and began
hurriedly removing screws from the back of the portable TV receiver.
"We're in luck!" he said a few minutes later. "The output transformer is mounted
on the speaker, and the leads are easy to reach."
A couple of slashes of the penknife severed the two leads going to the primary
of the transformer, and Jerry quickly stripped the insulation from the ends of the
wires. Next he jerked a floor lamp plug from the wall socket and cut off the wire
at the base of the lamp. The length of lamp cord thus obtained had all four wire-ends
stripped of insulation, and the wires at one end were twisted around the bared transformer
leads. A handkerchief was placed between the wire splices to keep them from shorting
Then Jerry removed the cap from the telephone junction button on the baseboard
and connected one of the lamp cord wires to one of the screw terminals. When the
other wire was touched to the other terminal, the hum of the dial tone came clearly
from the speaker of the TV set.
"What are you doing?" Carl demanded. "We're going to try to use the speaker of
the TV set for both the microphone and earphone of a telephone," his friend replied.
"You hear it working as the earphone now. When sound waves in the room here vibrate
the speaker cone, the voice coil moves back and forth through the strong field of
the speaker's permanent magnet. This generates alternating currents in the voice
coil that flow through what is normally the secondary of the output transformer
and induce corresponding currents in the primary. Since the transformer has a turns
ratio of 30 or 40 to 1, the feeble voltages across the voice coil are amplified
30 or 40 times in the primary. The output voltage across the primary will still
be considerably less than the output of a carbon - button - microphone - and - transformer
combination, but I'm praying it will be enough for the job."
"That was a dial-phone. How are you going to dial?" Carl asked.
Jerry shut his eyes to concentrate and bumped his forehead with the heel of his
hand to jog his memory. "I've got to remember how that telephone works," he muttered.
"When the handset is on the cradle, the line is open-circuited to the 50 volts or
so of d.c. present. A large capacitor and the ringer coils are in series across
the line so the bell will respond to an a.c. ringer voltage. When the handset is
picked up, the earphone, carbon-button mike, and the primary of the induction coil
are connected in series across the line, and this drops the d.c. voltage to less
than ten volts.
"When you put your finger in a dial opening," Jerry continued, "and pull it down
against the stop, the line is short-circuited. As you release the dial, the spinning
mechanism first disconnects the receiver-mike combination so you don't hear the
clicks of the dial operation; and the line is open-circuited momentarily once for
every unit in the number dialed. When the dial stops, the earphone-transmitter combination
is reconnected and the short circuit is removed from the line."
"You'll never be able to do all that by just touching a pair of wires together,"
Carl said in a discouraged voice.
"I don't think I have to. I believe it's the amplitude and timing of the open-circuit
pulses that work the automatic relays. I'm hoping I can dial by simply breaking
the connection once momentarily for every unit dialed. Move that radio away from
the TV set and be ready to explain the situation if I get someone on the line. Talk
as loudly as you dare and right into the speaker. The book says 'Information' is
13; so I'll try for her. Ready?"
At a nod from Carl, Jerry lifted one of the leads off the connecting screw and
replaced it instantly. There was a click in the speaker, and the dial tone disappeared.
A gleam of hope shone in Jerry's eyes at this, and he jerked the wire back and forth
rhythmically three more times. There was a clicking sound in the speaker; and then,
after an agonizing pause, a woman's voice said faintly but clearly, "Information."
"Hello. Can you hear me?" Carl asked. "Please speak louder," the woman's voice
"Listen carefully. This is an emergency," Carl said, raising his voice as much
as he dared. In a few sentences he explained the situation, told where they were,
and asked the girl to contact the state police at once. The alert operator repeated
all the information as a double-check, and Carl okayed it.
Jerry quickly unfastened the wires from the wall button, stuffed the line cord
into the back of the TV receiver, and propped the back cover in place. Then he and
Carl sat down on the sofa and looped the rope back and forth across their legs with
the ends of the loops tucked between their limbs, so that to a casual glance they
looked as though they were still tied. The clock on the wall said four o'clock.
A few minutes later the key turned in the lock, and the boys barely had time
to thrust their hands behind them before the man with the cap came into the room.
"Still here, huh ?" he said. "I just wanted to be sure. We won't need your car after
all. We have a couple of new tires mounted, courtesy of our friend there on the
floor. Now, as soon as we take care of a little business, we shall be on our way,
if you don't mind - and we'll make sure you don't mind! Guess I better check those
Jerry could feel Carl's body tensing beside him as the man took the revolver
from his pocket and moved toward them, but at that instant the other man's voice
called from outside: "Get out here, Carney ! The judge is coming down the road!"
Carney's face twisted in a cold smile of anticipation as he turned on his heel
and strode from the room. He closed the door but did not stop to lock it.
"We were too late with our call," Carl groaned, throwing off the ropes and turning
down the radio so they could hear. Jerry already had the door open a crack and was
looking through it at the driveway of the filling station. A gray-haired man in
an old but well-cared-for businessman's coupe had stopped in front of the open door
of the lubrication stall.
"Frank, the regular man, took sick suddenly," Carney was explaining glibly. "We're
filling in for him. He told us to take good care of you, and we certainly intend
to. Just drive in there on the lift, and we'll get started."
"Well, all right," the elderly man said after a little hesitation. "Frank always
has me back onto the lift because it's easier to check the transmission that way.
You two stand at either side and kind of guide me."
"They'll kill him as soon as they get him inside," Carl whispered. "We can't
just stand here and let it happen. When I give the word, let's rush them. Grab one
of those tire tools lying on the floor as you go through the door. It's not much
to go against a gun, but it's all we've got. Ready?"
Before Jerry could answer, an astonishing thing happened. The big trunk lid of
the judge's car flew up to reveal two state troopers crouched inside holding sawed-off
shotguns trained on the astonished convicts. The hands of the latter shot above
their heads as though jerked by puppet strings.
A state patrol car roared around the curve and screeched to a halt on the driveway.
It was closely followed by an ambulance, and in a matter of minutes the two handcuffed
convicts were on their way back to prison and the injured station attendant was
on his way to the hospital.
Later, taking advantage of the relative quiet that followed the crisis, the troopers
explained to the boys how a cruiser just down the highway had received the information
about the events at the gas station by radio, and how they had intercepted the judge
and explained the situation to him. The old man had bravely insisted on the plan
used in order to save lives. Carl and Jerry, in turn, tried to explain how they
had used a TV set to talk on the telephone; but the state troopers were still scratching
their heads in puzzlement as the boys drove away.
"I'm puzzled by one thing myself," Carl admitted as he pulled the car onto the
highway. "How come you know so much about how a telephone works?"
"That's an unexpected dividend on pure research," Jerry answered with a grin.
"One day three or four years ago, when my folks were conveniently away, I did some
voltage and resistance measuring on our telephone and traced out the circuit printed
inside the case. I had no notion whatever of using the information. I was just curious."
"Well, your curiosity possibly saved four lives - including two pretty important
to us," Carl remarked. "In the future, when one of my Profs urges me to study something
just for the sake of knowing it, I'm going to remember this day."
Carl Anderson and Jerry Bishop were two teenage boys whose
love of electronics, Ham radio, and all things technical afforded them ample opportunities
to satisfy their own curiosities, assist law enforcement and neighbors with solving
problems, and impressing – and sometimes toying with - friends based on their proclivity
for serious undertakings as well as fun.
Carl & Jerry, by John T. Frye
Carl and Jerry Frye were fictional characters in a series of short stories that
were published in Popular Electronics magazine from the late 1950s to the early
1970s. The stories were written by John T. Frye, who used the pseudonym "John T.
Carroll," and they followed the adventures of two teenage boys, Carl Anderson and
Jerry Bishop, who were interested in electronics and amateur radio.
In each story, Carl and Jerry would encounter a problem or challenge related
to electronics, and they would use their knowledge and ingenuity to solve it. The
stories were notable for their accurate descriptions of electronic circuits and
devices, and they were popular with both amateur radio enthusiasts and young people
interested in science and technology.
The Carl and Jerry stories were also notable for their emphasis on safety and
responsible behavior when working with electronics. Each story included a cautionary
note reminding readers to follow proper procedures and safety guidelines when handling
Although the Carl and Jerry stories were fictional, they were based on the experiences
of the author and his own sons, who were also interested in electronics and amateur
radio. The stories continue to be popular among amateur radio enthusiasts and electronics
hobbyists, and they are considered an important part of the history of electronics
and technology education.
- Going Up
- March 1955
Shock - September 1955
- A Low Blow
- March 1961
- The Black
Beast - May 1960
Electronik, September 1958
- Pi in
the Sky and Big Twist, February 1964
Bell Bull Session, December 1961
Boogie, August 1958
- TV Picture,
Eraser, August 1962
Trap, March 1956
at Work, June 1956
Aweigh, July 1956
Has His Day, August 1956
- The Hand
of Selene, November 1960
or Not?, October 1956
Electronic Beach Buggy, September 1956
Extra Sensory Perception, December 1956
in a Chimney, January 1956
Performance, November 1958
of Judas, July 1961
- The Sucker,
New Year, January 1963
Snow Machine, December 1960
Extracurricular Education, July 1963
Slow Motion for Quick Action, April 1963
Sleuthing, August 1963
- TV Antennas,
a Soroban, March 1963
Fair --", September 1963
Worm Warming, May 1961
Great Bank Robbery or "Heroes All" - October 1955
Operation Startled Starling - January 1955
- A Light
Subject - November 1954
Teaches Boy - February 1959
- Too Lucky
- August 1961
and Jeopardy - December 1963
Santa's Little Helpers - December 1955
Tough Customers - June 1960
Pocket Radio, TV Receivers
Yagi Antennas, May 1955
Stomping, March 1962
- The Blubber
Banisher, July 1959
- The Sparkling
Light, May 1962
Research Rewarded, June 1962
- A Hot Idea, March
- The Hot Dog
Case, December 1954
New Company is Launched, October 1956
the Mistletoe, December 1958
Eraser, August 1962
- "BBI", May 1959
Sound Waves, July 1955
- The River
Sniffer, July 1962
- Ham Radio,
Torero Electronico, April 1960
Wireless, January 1962
Electronic Shadow, September 1957
Induction, June 1963
- He Went
Detective, February 1958
an Instinct, December 1962
- Two Detectors,
with a Tachometer, July 1960
and the Pirates, April 1961
The Crazy Clock Caper, October 1960
Carl & Jerry: Their Complete Adventures is
now available. "From 1954 through 1964, Popular Electronics published 119 adventures
of Carl Anderson and Jerry Bishop, two teen boys with a passion for electronics
and a knack for getting into and out of trouble with haywire lash-ups built in Jerry's
basement. Better still, the boys explained how it all worked, and in doing so, launched
countless young people into careers in science and technology. Now, for the first
time ever, the full run of Carl and Jerry yarns by John T. Frye are available again,
in five authorized anthologies that include the full text and all illustrations."
Posted June 28, 2021
(updated from original post on 4/10/2014)