the Golden Age of Radio (admittedly a subjective term), electronics
innovators were generally as likely to be hobbyists (amateurs) as they
were to be professionals with college degrees. In fact, according to
this open letter from Eugene F. McDonald, president of Zenith Radio
Corporation, in 1939, his company recognized the fact that most of their
best ideas came from amateur radio operators, and that their engineering
staff was populated overwhelmingly with Hams. Accordingly, the letter
was a solicitation to amateurs to submit their ideas to the company
to give designers not just valuable technical information gleaned from
real-world experimentation (aka the School of Hard Knocks) but also
insight into what type of equipment the Ham world would like to have
made available for sale.
March 1939 QST
of Contents]These articles are scanned and OCRed from old editions of the
ARRL's QST magazine. Here is a list of the
QST articles I have already posted. All copyrights (if any) are hereby acknowledged.
Wouldn't it be great to still see the
foundational electronics brands start re-appearing on store shelves
again (yes, and online, too)? Would it mean anything to you to still
be able to buy a made-in-America television or radio from RCA, Zenith,
Westinghouse, Crosley, Farnsworth, or Sylvania? If you're visiting from
Germany, how about a Braun or a Klein & Hummel? Here from Spain?
How would a spanking new Magnadyne sitting on the table scratch an itch?
Find some of your own country's vintage equipment manufacturers here
Radio Museum website.
See all available
vintage QST articles.
Amateurs - Your Thoughts May be Worth Money
Amateurs - Your Thoughts May
be Worth Money
(Zenith Radio Corporation Letter)
Zenith Radio Corporation
6001 Dickens Avenue
To Radio Amateurs:
This is an invitation to every "ham"
in the world.
Most advertisers in magazines, newspapers, etc.,
tell you how to spend your money. This is not that type of message.
I have always contended that the credit for most of the major developments
we have in radio have been due to the American amateur. The radio industry's
enormous laboratories have done little but refine that which the amateur
discovered. The Zenith Radio Corporation is always ready to reward amateurs
who send us suggestions that we have not before had, if we adopt them.
We haven't an engineer in our laboratory over forty years old -
they're all ex-"hams," progressive and very much open-minded. To them
nothing is impossible. We have found that it is not always the fellow
who knows all the rules of why things won't work that produces real
results. As a matter of fact, the contrary is usually true.
you want to see an example of development, drop into a Zenith dealer's
store and examine the Wavemagnet model of radio, just put on the market,
using no antenna, ground or battery. This is not a set built for "hams."
This job was suggested by an amateur and the improved shielded loop
was refined by our laboratory. If you know how to build this loop better,
tell us and, if your suggestion is novel and we adopt it, we will reward
So, you see this was not an ad telling you how to spend
your money. It is just an invitation for more of you to correspond with
us on further developments.
Posted October 23,