January 1963 Popular Electronics
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 & Jerry: Stereotaped New Year
By John T. Frye W9EGV
It was early afternoon on the last day of the year. Carl
and Jerry, home from college for the holidays, were lounging
in the living room of their favorite young-woman neighbor, listening
to the stereo tape recorder she had received for Christmas.
"That's certainly a fine recorder, Norma," Jerry said when
the prerecorded tape ended and she switched off the instrument.
"Yep," Carl agreed, his words a little blurred by a mouthful
of Norma's homemade fudge, "that stereo really makes everything
sound alive and real and right here - say, there goes Mr. Gruber
for his walk. Do Jerry and I imagine it, or has our old friend
lost some of his zing lately?
"I've always admired him for being such a non-typical old
man," Carl went on, before Norma had a chance to answer. "None
of that living-in-the-past stuff for him. Instead of reading
the obituary and the 'fifty-years-ago' columns, he reads science-fiction;
and he knows more about recent developments in space exploration
than either of us. We both feel, though, that he isn't himself
this vacation. He hasn't been picking our brains for things
we've learned in the labs down at Parvoo, and he showed only
faint interest in the university's new nuclear reactor. That
just isn't Mr. Gruber."
"I intended to talk to you about him," Norma said. "For one
thing, he misses you fellows a lot when you're away at school.
On top of that, the bad winter weather has kept him cooped up
in the house. At any rate, there has been a change in his outlook.
I didn't realize how much of a change until Mrs. Gruber told
me yesterday that he isn't going to stay up tonight and welcome
the new year in. He says New Year's Eve celebrations are for
young people with a future ahead of them, not for old people
who have only the past. You both know what an enthusiastic holiday-keeper
he has always been up to now."
"I'll say!" Jerry exclaimed. "It just won't be New Year's
Eve if Mr. Gruber doesn't turn loose that old 10-gauge Baker
shotgun of his at the stroke of midnight. He's been shooting
it off ever since I can remember. This is serious. We've got
to do something about it."
"I'm not sure there's anything we can do," Norma replied.
"Mrs. Gruber is plenty worried, and she has done her best to
talk him out of this mood with absolutely no success."
"It will take more than talk," Jerry said slowly and thoughtfully.
"But I've got a kind of half-baked idea. You have any plans
for tonight, Norma ?"
"None I won't cancel to get in on one of those fiendish schemes
you two dream up," she said promptly. "Some of the girls from
the office are planning on taking in a midnight show, but you
can count me in on anything you have in mind for Mr. Gruber."
"Good! The first thing I want you to do is snag Mr. Gruber
when he returns from his walk and hang on to him for at least
an hour. Think you can do that?"
"Oh, I guess my feminine charms, backed up by a big plate
you two going to be doing?"
"We'll be making a few changes in Mr. Gruber's room. Carl,
you get those powerful little speakers from the stereo system
in your room and bring them over to the Grubers' while I pave
the way with Mrs. Gruber. Also get that roll of twisted-pair
from the lab, and bring along an intercom speaker."
He was putting on his coat while issuing these instructions,
and soon both boys were gone, leaving Norma watching out her
front window for the return of Mr. Gruber.
Jerry quickly outlined his plan to Mrs. Gruber, and she agreed
to it gladly without understanding a word of what he said. Carl
came in the back door with a compact speaker cabinet under each
arm, and the two boys went upstairs to Mr. Gruber's room.
One of the matched speakers was placed behind some boxes
on the floor of a clothes closet, the door of which was normally
left open. The other was hidden behind the curtain of a bookcase
sitting against the opposite wall. The intercom speaker/mike
was placed beneath the bed. Leads from all three speakers were
concealed beneath rugs and along baseboards until they fed out
through the window and then across to Carl's bedroom window
that was directly opposite it.
Heavy gray clouds, carrying a promise of snow, had started
rolling in from the southwest; and dusk came early. In fact,
it was growing quite dark as the boys went out the back door
and across the yards to the entrance of their basement laboratory.
Just as they started down the steps, they saw Mr. Gruber come
out of Norma's house and head for home.
Norma came over to Carl's right after supper, bringing her
new tape recorder with her. The boys had been busy rounding
up some stereo sound-effect records from their friends, and
soon the three of them were busily engaged in a recording session.
The session was interrupted twice for mysterious missions. Once
Jerry scurried over to his house and came back with a basketball
in the hollow of his arm. Another time Norma went home and returned
giggling and carrying her best pair of dress-up spike heels.
Some of the sound effects were transcribed from the records
onto the tape, using Carl's stereo pickup and his stereo preamplifier.
Other sections of the tape were recorded "live," using both
mikes. The latter required quite a bit of experimenting and
redoing to get exactly the effect desired; so time slipped past
It was just eleven o'clock when Carl and Jerry were finally
satisfied with what they had on the tape, and it was then that
the light came on in Mr. Gruber's window across the way. He
was all ready for bed, attired in an old-fashioned nightshirt.
After raising his window a bit, Mr. Gruber got into bed,
took off his glasses and placed them on a table beside his pillow,
and turned out the light. Through the sensitive intercom speaker/mike,
the three young people in Carl's room could hear the old man's
Carl plugged a pair of earphones into the intercom unit so
that Norma could listen on one of them while he monitored with
the other. Jerry started the tape recorder that was feeding
the twin stereo amplifiers. The output of these amplifiers was
now connected to the two matched speakers installed in Mr. Gruber's
Through the earphones, Norma and Carl heard the plop-plop-plop
of approaching hoofbeats. They grew louder and louder and then
slowly faded out. That is the way it sounded over the earphones,
but they knew that in Mr. Gruber's room the stereo effect from
the two separated speakers would make it sound exactly as though
a horse had walked through the wall of the clothes closet, had
plodded across the floor into the bookcase, and then had gone
on through the wall and away.
The light snapped on in Mr. Gruber's bedroom, and they could
see him fumbling for his glasses. He had barely put them on
when an invisible player began bouncing a basketball on the
floor in his clothes closet. Very deliberately this ghostly
athlete dribbled the ball out across the floor of the bedroom
to the bookcase, bounced it a few times there, and then turned
around and dribbled it back into the clothes closet. Mr. Gruber's
nodding head followed every movement of the invisible player.
The ball had scarcely ceased whumping the floor when the
distant lonely whistle of a locomotive came faintly into the
bedroom. Rapidly the puffing of the steam exhaust and the clatter
of iron wheels on the rails increased in volume until, with
a roar and a Doppler-modulated shriek of the whistle, the unseen
train drove straight out of the wall behind the bookcase, ran
across the room into the clothes closet, and kept right on going.
Involuntarily Mr. Gruber shrank back to let the train pass.
As the clatter of the train died away in the distance, another
interesting sound filled the room - a most intriguing sound
to masculine ears. It was that of a young woman's high heels
clicking along on a hard surface. She marched straight to the
door of the clothes closet and then broke into a little run
as she dashed over to the bookcase, where she stopped. Over
in Carl's darkened room, Jerry stopped the tape recorder and
switched in a live mike in front of Norma.
"Come now, Mr. Gruber!" she said throatily. "What are you
doing lying up here in bed when the New Year is waiting for
you to welcome it?"
Jerry cut Norma's mike and turned up another in front of
"Come on downstairs and join the party," Carl's voice urged
from the clothes closet. "It's almost New Year's Eve!"
one continuous movement Mr. Gruber threw off the covers and
put his feet on the floor. He ran over and pulled back the curtain
of the bookcase, revealing the concealed speaker. Then he went
into the clothes closet and soon discovered the other unit and
the wires leading away from it. Returning to the middle of the
room and looking across at Carl's darkened window, he said with
"All right, you young rascals; I'm sure you can hear me.
Wait until I get some duds on and I'll be down. I might as well.
I'd like to see the color of a man's hair who could sleep in
this room tonight!"
The three young people dashed across the back yards to the
Grubers' back door, where Mrs. Gruber, laughing happily, let
them in out of the snow that was just starting to come down.
A few seconds later, Mr. Gruber, looking a little sheepish but
still smiling good-naturedly, came down the stairs.
Just as he reached the bottom of the stairway, Mr. Gruber
glanced at the clock on the mantel and then made a quick dive
into the front-hall closet. He emerged carrying a long-barreled
shotgun, and all of them followed him out onto the front step.
Pointing the muzzle up into the swirling snowflakes, Mr. Gruber
pulled the trigger; and the 10-gauge Baker went off with a full-throated
"Happy New Year!" Mr. Gruber shouted as he grabbed his wife
and kissed her soundly.
They all stood out there in the snow, shaking hands and embracing
each other while the whistles and the bells and the ragged popping
of guns marked the end of one year and the beginning of another.
The Grubers laughed heartily as Norma told how the boys had
her mincing up and down past the mikes in her high heels while
they made a recording .. Finally they filed back into the house
where Mrs. Gruber had prepared a midnight lunch.
"Martha," Mr. Gruber said in high good spirits, heading for
the cellar stairs, "this occasion calls for a bottle of my wine."
Every fall when the grapes turned purple, Mr. Gruber liked
to fancy himself as "that little old wine-maker," and he made
a great to-do about preparing a few bottles of the juice. Thanks
to Mrs. Gruber's close supervision, the brew was most innocuous.
When their glasses were filled, Mr. Gruber raised his and made
a little speech:
"Let's drink to this New Year and many more to come. Martha
and I have seen lots of New Year's Eves, many pretty much the
same; but there certainly is nothing stereotyped about this
happy stereotaped one I thought was going to be so dismal.
"You, my young friends, have taught me a lesson. Beginnings
are for everyone, not just the young. Life is a mystery story,
and who will say that turning a page near the back of such a
book, where the mystery is being cleared away, is not as interesting
as turning a page at the front? From here on in, that old 10-gauge
Baker and I will be waiting eagerly to welcome each new year!"
"Hear! Hear!" the young people chorused as they touched their
glasses to his.
Posted March 28, 2018
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 lashups 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."
Carl & Jerry Episodes on RF Cafe
- Electronic Eraser,
- Electronic Trap, March
- Geniuses at Work, June
- Eeeeelectricity!, November
- Anchors Aweigh, July
- Bosco Has His Day,
- The Hand of Selene,
- Feedback, May 1956
- Abetting or Not?, October
- Electronic Beach
Buggy, September 1956
- Extra Sensory
Perception, December 1956
- Trapped in a Chimney,
- Command Performance,
- Treachery of Judas, July
- The Sucker, May 1963
- Stereotaped New
Year, January 1963
- The Snow Machine, December
Education, July 1963
- Slow Motion for
Quick Action, April 1963
- Sonar Sleuthing, August
- TV Antennas, August 1955
- Succoring a Soroban,
- "All's Fair --", September
- Operation Worm Warming,
Stomping, March 1962
- The Blubber Banisher,
- The Sparkling Light, May
- Pure Research Rewarded,
- A Hot Idea, March 1960
- The Hot Dog Case, December
- A New Company is Launched,
- Under the Mistletoe,
- Electronic Eraser,
- "BBI", May 1959
- Ultrasonic Sound Waves,
- The River Sniffer, July
- Ham Radio, April 1955
- El Torero Electronico,
- Wired Wireless, January
- Electronic Shadow,
- Elementary Induction,
- He Went That-a-Way,
- Electronic Detective,
- Aiding an Instinct,
- Two Detectors, February
- Tussle with a Tachometer,
- Therry and the Pirates,
- The Crazy Clock Caper,