October 1930 Radio-Craft
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics.
See articles from Radio-Craft,
published 1929 - 1953. All copyrights are hereby acknowledged.
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
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
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" :
Reginald A. Fessenden,
Count Georg von Arco,
F. W. Alexanderson,
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.
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
Posted September 17, 2015