April 1946 Radio-Craft
[Table of Contents]
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics.
See articles from Radio-Craft,
published 1929 - 1953. All copyrights are hereby acknowledged.
In his April 1946 Radio-Craft editorial
column, Hugo Gernsback reflected on the great advances made during the past half-decade's
war efforts, and predicts that the field of radio-electronics will see explosive
growth. Of course it didn't require Mr. Gernsback's usual extraordinary visionary
skills to make such a claim at that time. Cyclotrons, Betatrons, VHF, UHF, and microwave
amplifiers and vacuum tubes, cathode-ray tubes, transmission lines, waveguide, and
countless other technologies had recently been developed anew or improved from pre-war
designs. Engineers and technicians were to benefit greatly from the advances, as
would, eventually, consumers who would be buying the wonderful new products made
from those newfangled devices. Coming soon in future editorials - likely much to
his surprise - would be Gernsback's
response to the many unhappy technicians, servicemen, and consumers who, having
heard and read of promises of those nifty new radios, televisions and other marvels
of modern technology, were sorely disappointed at how long it was taking to deliver
on the promises.
Radio-Electronics is Now in Its Full Stride of Expansion
By Hugo Gernsback
The bewildering growth of radio-electronics - already great before the war -
has now assumed such astonishing proportions that it leaves even complacent radio
engineers quite breathless these days. The art is branching out so rapidly as to
assume the proportions of an avalanche growing from day to day as its momentum gathers
It may be doubted if there is any radio-electronic engineer alive today who can
truthfully say that he knows intimately all the various ramifications of radio now
The art has become so huge, particularly. since the war, that it is impossible
even for professional radio men to keep track of all its complexities. Radio literature,
large as it is today, finds it difficult to report all progress achieved in the
art and in the industry. Often only the barest outline of some new development is
New inventions, new applications, new patents, new processes come along in such
an abundance and with such speed that it is difficult even for experts to cope with
the huge output. Literally nothing astonishes either engineer or layman when new
claims and new applications are made in radio-electronics nowadays. Even a listing
of all the brand new radio and electronic applications which have been developed
since V-J Day, would fill far more space than does this article.
Every branch of radio-electronics is becoming so complex that only specialists
in their respective spheres can begin to cope with the new facts, new inventions,
new procedures, in that particular branch. As an example take a single component:
Vacuum Tubes. Tubes of the size of 600 kw and over, down to the new miniature tubes,
the size of a small bean, are now commonplace. In between there are literally thousands
of styles and models of radio tubes for a variety of purposes. The listing of each
alone would also fill a good-sized volume.
Whether these tubes are of the ordinary receiving type, whether they are klystrons,
magnetrons, cathode-ray, or the 40-foot type used in atomic research, they are all
radio-electronic vacuum tubes, built for a specific purpose. The highly technical
engineering knowledge necessary in designing and manufacturing these tubes is a
vast specialized endeavor in itself.
The same is true of every other sub-division of radio-electronics. It happens
ever so often that when an engineer talks to one in another radio-electronic branch
- they discover that each has only the most superficial knowledge of what the other
is talking about. Frequently engineers of two different branches must study intensively
to work in co-operation with each other.
It has frequently happened that one radio sub-division has duplicated efforts
which already were standard in another, simply because there had not been sufficient
literature in the two branches to read up on. This should give some sort of an idea
how really big radio-electronics is becoming and what is in store for us during
the coming years.
Even engineering libraries today are hard put to keep up with the heavy traffic
in recording, indexing and cross-indexing all the new research and developments
in the art. Particularly since the war, with its security secrecy, a terrific load
has suddenly been placed on the entire radio engineering fraternity even to begin
digesting a fraction of what has been accomplished in the art during the war years.
The pace simply has been too great and it will take many months of patient plodding
for all in the industry to get a correct perspective of the present radio picture.
That is not all, by any means. Atomics, which will soon rival radio-electronics,
is already making use of many radio, electronic and allied devices. Soon radio engineers
will be in greater and greater demand in the atomic field.
Take the Cyclotron, the Betatron and other instrumentalities in the same class
- they all require radio-electric components, with devices such as amplifiers, special
vacuum tubes, cathode-ray tubes, in a profusion of complicated hook-ups. For the
detecting and measuring of radioactivity, atomic scientists require Geiger-Mueller
vacuum tubes, photo-electric multiplier cells, ionization chambers (with argon gas),
etc. All three of these in turn require special direct current amplifiers, audio
oscillators, radioactivity indicators and many other radio-electronic components.
Remember, too, that the young atomic giant is still in its merest infancy. It
is a foregone conclusion that atomics and radio-electronics will soon be allied
inextricably, to an extent undreamt of at present.
Radio-electronics, with the possible exception of atomics, will probably become
the greatest endeavor that humanity has ever seen. One thing is quite certain. That
is, the extent and scope of the rapidly growing art will be far greater than any
other art ever known on earth heretofore.
Posted April 9, 2021