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Men Who Have Made Radio: Count Georg von Arco
October 1930 Radio-Craft

October 1930 Radio-Craft

October 1930 Radio Craft Cover - RF Cafe[Table of Contents]

People old and young enjoy waxing nostalgic about and learning some of the history of early electronics. Radio-Craft was published from 1929 through 1953. All copyrights are hereby acknowledged. See all articles from Radio-Craft.

The persona of Scott Adams' 'Dilbert' is described exactly in the opening sentence of this article in a 1930 edition of Radio-Craft magazine. It is amazing - if not frustrating - to realize how long the perception of science-minded people being introverts has been around. Dilbert's 'pointy-haired-boss' is nailed in the second sentence. Georg Wilhelm Alexander Hans Graf von Arco is celebrated here as a major contributor to the advancement of early radio, particularly wireless telegraphy equipment development. Interestingly, as brought to my attention by Melanie as she did the text clean-up after OCRing the magazine page, von Arco worked at the Sayville radio transmission station on Long Island, New York, where the Telefunken Company's Dr. K.G. Frank was arrested and interred for the duration of the World War I for sending out "unneutral messages."

Aside: The article mentions the root of the company Telefunken being the German word 'Funk,' which means spark. That seems to be the opposite of what we think of of when saying someone is in a funk. Maybe the translation has changed over time since according to the Google translator, 'Funk' means radio, and 'Funke' means spark. The point, ultimately, is moot since the English word 'funk' derives not from the German word at all.

See other "Men Who Made Radio" : Sir Oliver Lodge, Reginald A. Fessenden, C. Francis Jenkins, Count Georg von Arco, E. F. W. Alexanderson, Frank Conrad, Heinrich Hertz, James Clerk Maxwell

Men Who Have Made Radio - Count Georg von Arco

The Thirteenth of a Series

The inventor, like the scientist, is often popularly imagined to be an impractical recluse with an artistic temperament, lacking in business sense and in the ability to make his ideas appreciated. On the other hand, we often hear the assertion that the typical business mind, like the military mind, is closed to revolutionary technical ideas, and resists their introduction to the last. It may be that the exception proves the rule: but certainly, where the inventor and the executive are joined in one forceful personality, the results are conspicuous - and in none of the great pioneers of radio more strikingly than in the case of Germany's leader in the development of the art. This distinguished veteran is Count Georg von Arco, whose picture appears on the cover of this month's Radio-Craft.

Men Who Have Made Radio - Count Georg von Arco, October 1930 Radio-Craft - RF Cafe

Georg Wilhelm Alexander Hans Graf von Arco

Count Arco, who was born at Grossgor-Schutz, in upper Silesia, August 8, 1869, was of a mechanical bent, even as a boy. After graduating from the classical "gymnasium" (preparatory school) of Breslau, he entered the University of Berlin to study science and mathematics. After brief service as an army officer, he turned from this profession, for which family traditions would have destined him, to seek his true vocation in the field of technical development. After further studies and some practical experience, he found before him the new and attractive subject of wireless telegraphy; which enterprising scientists throughout Europe were endeavoring to perfect under the pressure of national as well as individual rivalries. Arco, associating himself with Slaby, soon became one of the triumvirate of German radio pioneers, the third of whom was Braun. In 1898 he devised an improved transmission circuit; and soon the Slaby-Arco system had acquired world-wide fame. It was adopted quickly by Germany, and then by Sweden, for naval use. The German government urged the cooperation, rather than competition, of German wireless interests to present a united front to external rivals; and the final result was the organization of the radio-communications corporation known universally today as the Telefunken Company. (The name is coined from the German word Funk, or "spark," which, from the type of radio transmitters originally used, has become the term for radio of all descriptions). Count Arco was selected as its manager and technical director upon its institution in 1903; and his whole strenuous personality has been since continuously devoted to its development. No great organization has ever been more truly "the lengthened shadow of a man."

The Slaby-Arco system of wireless, then competing for favor in the markets of the world, utilized an aerial so connected across its spark coil that the unbalancing of the system produced radiation; the receiver com­prised a coherer (then the only practical means of detector) with a loading coil grounded at both ends. Inefficient as the ar­rangement was, in the light of modern prac­tice, it had great merit compared with others; and in 1903 the United States Navy, as a result of its tests, installed Slaby-Arco equipment. In this year, too, the necessity for intercommunication among vessels on which wireless equipment of different competing systems had been installed, forced the calling of the first international radio conference, in which Arco was among the leaders.

The accomplishment which has always re­mained closest to his heart is the erection of the great station at Nauen, with its almost numberless transmitters, to accomplish direct communication from Germany to the most distant points of the world. The Telefunken system of radio, in ship and shore stations, continued to expand, however, in a field of the most intense competition stimulated by different national interest; in 1905 it had 518 radio stations, and in 1909 it led the world decisively in the number of installations.

Technical improvements succeeded in bewildering rapidity. Between 1903 and 1928, it is stated, Arco himself filed 370 patent applications. Yet his distinguishing characteristic, which has impressed itself upon his associates, is the intuitive ability to grasp the possibilities of new ideas and to exploit them without regard to the mortality among his former brain-children. He used each new development forcefully; in 1906 the advantages of continuous-wave operation were revealed, and in that year he demonstrated radio telephony over a distance of more than twenty miles. In that era, antedating the vacuum tube, his most ingenious efforts were turned to the development of high-frequency machine generators, increasing the range of transmissions. The great American station at Sayville, Long Island, was erected in 1912 to, work with Nauen, and in 1913 its spark system was replaced by high-frequency generators.

The war came, and put its terrific pressure upon German resources and German in­genuity; at its catastrophic close there lay before Arco the task of building up again under tremendous handicaps, the great com­munication system he had fathered. He turned to short waves: and their commercial success as well as technical is shown in the multiplication of radio links which unite Nauen to transmitters in America and Asia; until, a few days ago, the Orient and the Occident conversed by way of the central station as if it were a local telephone exchange.

The possibilities also of the vacuum tube were quickly grasped by Arco, and led to the organization of the German tube industry, using his inventions. A little touch of human interest is conveyed in the fact that his name has been given to the latest tube produced­the "Arcotron"-of unique design and in­tended to facilitate the production of very economical receivers for use in Europe and other countries, where the crystal alone has been hitherto within the means of many listeners.

Energetic and in full vigor, Count Arco still devotes the spare moments wrung from an exacting round of duty to radio as a hobby and to its popularization among his countrymen. A genial, impulsive and force­ful personality, his character is summarized in the oft-quoted motto "Dienst am Werke" (Service by Deeds").



Posted September 17, 2015

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