May 1945 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.
For the last two centuries our wars have been fought to secure freedom
from oppressive regimes, either for our own citizens or for citizens
of allied countries requesting our assistance. In the entire history
of the United States, no land has ever been claimed during or after
the conclusion of the conflicts. Although the human cost has been
tragic - especially for those who have lost family members or suffered
injuries - one undeniable benefit has been the advancement of technology.
"Necessity," it has been said, "is the mother of invention." World
War II resulted in significant advances in wireless communications,
and the civilian radio industry was quick to exploit the new devices
and methods. Futurists wasted no time prognosticating about how
the postwar technology world would shape up, and of course radio
figured significantly into the vision. This 1945 article from
Radio-Craft is an early example.
Postwar Citizens' Radio
Microwave Transmitter-Receivers Will Invade Our Private Lives
By S. R. Winters
The postwar mother has her master unit right beside her
in the kitchen, thus keeping watch over children in the
nursery and communicating with others at camp or husband
in the fields.
When the dogs of war have been quelled, swords may not be converted
to plowshares but the "walkie-talkie" and "handie-talkie," as symbols
of compact combination radio transmitters and receivers, will switch
to peace-time uses with the ease of flipping a coin. These vest-pocket
editions of radio will have applications too numerous to be computed,
too flexible to be defined.
On the basis of recent hearings (extending over a period of weeks)
before the Federal Communications Commission there is a 200-page
report, amassed by 231 radio technicians - a forecast of things
to come in radio and electronics. Dryly labeled "Docket No. 6651,"
it may become as famous for its implications upon the radio structure
of the future as was infamous the "little black bag" in the Government's
Teapot Dome oil scandal. This bulging, brown radio volume is a blueprint
of tomorrow's radio. Not only has the Federal Communications Commission
turned prophet, with an unbridled imagination, but within a single
volume it has pieced together, in jigsaw puzzle fashion, a compendium
of radio's varied services, such as: citizen radio communication
service, theatre television, centercasting, general mobile radio
service, facsimile broadcast service, motion picture radio stations,
geophysical service, or radio prospecting, radio for electric, gas,
water and steam utilities, police radio service, limited private
radio-telephone service, taxicab radio service, and bus, railroad
and highway radio services.
Radio For the Citizens
Of these allocations of frequencies to various categories of
non-governmental services, in the spectrum from 10 to 30,000,000
kilocycles, there is none so new and none so challenging to the
imagination as the projected "Citizens Radiocommunication Service."
Without the usual demands for frequency assignments in an already
overcrowded spectrum, the Federal Communications Commission did
the startling thing of voluntarily allocating the band from 460
to 470 megacycles to a multitude of private uses of radio, just
over the post-war horizon. It was a generous gesture of recognition
of "walkie-talkie's" war contribution. This government move was
as if to say to all light-weight, portable, short-range types of
radio, "You have performed admirably on the battlefronts - now the
doors swing wide for peace-time opportunity of performance." Instead
of the proverbial sky or Heaviside layer being the limit, the Commission
asserts that the possible uses of low-power, portable transceivers
are as broad as the imagination of the public itself, and its adaptation
is circumscribed only by the ingenuity of radio manufacturers in
devising equipment to meet the varied applications.
The vision of a Jules Verne or a Hugo Gernsback alone could match
the Federal Communications Commission in lifting the veil of the
future - forecasting the startling civilian uses of the war's walkie-talkie,
the airplane pilot's throat microphone and the vest radio with wrist
microphone, earphones under cap, and transmitter in special pockets.
Not visionary, but just over the horizon of actual accomplishment,
the war-converted walkie-talkie will contact a physician from a
central exchange while he is en route by automobile to a patient's
home; the farmer's wife who formerly summoned her husband to the
noon-day meal with a clanging dinner bell will call him on 460 megacycles;
hunters exploring the far reaches of forests or swamps, in search
of wild game and fish, will be in contact by radio with a central
hunting and fishing lodge; department stores, dairies, laundries
and similar business concerns will communicate directly by radio
with their delivery trucks en route; city firemen will employ the
throat microphone, now used by aviation pilots in detecting speech
by the quivering of the throat; and cowboys on our western plains
will carry vest-pocket editions of radios to communicate with home
The Federal Communications Commission has assigned separate bands
of frequencies for urban and rural transit radio contacts. These
voice channels may be used for communicating with city or inter-city
buses, trucks, taxicabs, etc. Such radio services may assume the
pattern of a common carrier or on a private basis using the limited
frequencies allotted for such purposes. Anyway, this citizens' radiocommunication
band will be available to taxicabs, delivery vehicles, such as laundry
and bread trucks, and similar mobile units, in addition to service
as incidental communication between fixed points.
It is doubtful whether this is within the scope of Citizens'
Radio or will need a commercial license. In any case, radio
will be widely used for office-mobile unit communications.
Common carrier operation in the citizens' radiocommunication
channel of frequencies will not be permitted by the Commission;
no fee can be charged for the sending of messages and no charge
made for the use of licensed facilities. Thus the service will be
for the private use of the person licensed and he will be governed
by the regulations of the Communications Commission. The 460-470
band allocated to the public is said to be admirably adapted to
short range communication, requiring only feeble power. However,
the government rules are sufficiently flexible to allow the use
of "booster" or automatic relays. The low-power transmitters will
not utilize extremely high antennas, but increased transmitting
power wil be permissible in remote rural areas, where interference
Flexible, too, is the design of the combination transmitter and
receiver, although its weight will be kept to a minimum and preferably
mounted in a suitcase. A broadcast receiving unit, an alarm outfit,
or a remote control system may be incorporated with the transmitter
in the suitcase, variable as the particular needs may dictate. Following
the policy of the service to radio amateurs, the Commission will
not assign individual channels within the allotted band. The use
of simple circuits, already known to the radio art, will mean that
both transmitters and receivers will be tunable over most of the
460-470-megacycle range - emitting sufficiently sharp signals to
prevent any possible interference.
This new public radio service is designed to serve the greatest
possible number of users, hampered by only a few requirements of
the Communications Act, and a minimum of traffic rules need be imposed,
No technical knowledge is required to participate in the "Citizens
Radiocommunications Service," and the operator's license takes the
simple form of a small card, remaining in force for a five-year
period. The particular licensees are not cloaked with immunity from
interference; they have no vestment in any frequency or channel
- instead, it is a mutual opportunity to share this new band with
others. Radio technicians assume that the 10,000 kilocycle width
of the band is ample for its purpose.
"Votes by Radio" Turned Down
As a parallel to the Crosley and other popular polls by sampling
the opinions of select individuals, the so-called "Centercasting"
(See "Votes by Radio," Radio-Craft, March, 1945) as "a means of
radio voting or polling" was refused the requested assignment for
radio frequencies. Nonetheless novel as an offshoot of radio developments
in the immediate post-war period, the system and instruments involve
the use of a graphic recording device, named the "audimeter. It
is at present installed in home radio receiving sets, supposedly
representing a cross-section of homes, determined by a sampling
procedure based on data obtainable from the Bureau of Census of
the U. S. Department of Commerce. The listening record appears on
a continuously moving wax-coated tape, indicating with precision
the day, hour, and minute that a particular radio receiver was switched
on, each and all stations intercepted, the number of minutes of
listening to each station, the amount of dial twisting, and just
when the receiver was turned off. Possessing such data, the company
sponsoring "Centercasting" is able to determine the number of minutes
listened to each program. Currently, this service has been sold
to 40 clients, including the broadcasting networks, commercial advertisers,
and advertising agents.
Realizing that radio affords the only speedy avenue of communication
for the operation and control of fire-fighting equipment in going
to or from a conflagration, the Federal Communications Commission
has tentatively assigned 15 radio channels for governing the movement
of trucks and other mobile units, as well as firemen, while the
latter are working in burning buildings or areas. A home fire is
burning somewhere in this country everyone and one-half minutes
and, startlingly enough, a fire fans out to 50 times from its incipient
stage within eight minutes. Thus, it is significant that 92 cities
with populations exceeding 100,000, and 890 cities with populations
ranging between 10,000 and 100,000 persons, have indicated to the
Federal Communications Commission their intentions to adopt radio
as an agency to combat fires. In addition to the fixed radio stations
required in each of these municipalities, it is estimated that 128,000
mobile fire department units will be equipped with radio equipment
soon after the cessation of hostilities.
The FCC has issued permits for the operation of eight fixed radio
stations, and 175 portable and portable-mobile stations by transportation
companies. These stations are in operation in Chicago, Cleveland,
Detroit, Fort Wayne, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Seattle, Washington,
Columbus, Spokane, Pittsburgh, Boston and New York City. Stations
in Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis
and Boston are employed exclusively in connection with transit operations
in the respective cities; in the other cities mentioned above, the
radio stations are used jointly with local power companies. Twenty
other transit companies have indicated their intentions of building
radio stations as soon as the equipment is available.
For Highway Maintenance
Highway maintenance departments are also utilizing the facilities
in speeding up the prosecution of work incidental to road upkeep.
Excepting the California Division of Highways (which operates a
chain of special emergency radio stations comprising 23 fixed stations
and 36 mobile units), all of the highway maintenance agencies use
radio jointly with state police forces. The Michigan State Highway
Department, operating a ferry service across the Straits of Mackinac,
is authorized to operate five ship radio stations and two limited
government coastal harbor stations.
By their very numbers, Citizen Radios will make reliable
communication possible in time of emergency or disaster.
A "Motion Picture Station" is operated as an intermittent service.
It functions for communication purposes in conjunction with the
filming of moving pictures. Studios employ radiotelephone signals
between headquarters in Hollywood and film colonies on remote locations,
aboard ships, or in isolated, rugged areas. Infrequently, radio
may be used by motion picture concerns as an agency to conserve
life and property, when the invisible waves are the only medium
of communication between studios and locations far removed from
what we of the city call civilization.
With the stringency of gasoline rationing unrelaxed, the proposal
to use radio in dispatching Cleveland's 430 taxicabs augurs. a trend
rather than accents an example. These cabs are now being dispatched
by wire lines, but by way of the ether the driver, immediately preceding
the discharge of a passenger, would report to headquarters his cab
number and the location at which he was or would be available. His
car would then remain at the designated location until otherwise
instructed by radio. In this manner, taxicab "cruising" would be
sharply curtailed and the ordinary mileage of Cleveland's 430 taxicabs
reduced from 4,000,000 to 3,000,000 miles.
Electronics, just a continuing process in the unfolding of the
broad aspects of radio, also will afford limitless vistas in the
post-war world. Tiny electronic devices will avert automobile and
airplane collisions; traffic signals within motor cars and planes
will glow as red and green warning signals. Even the dashboard instruments
will function electronically; electric eyes will automatically turn
on auto headlights as darkness blankets the arteries of commerce;
tourists traveling from New York City to California will transfer
the responsibility of guiding the steering wheel over to a photoelectric
cell which will scan a white line on the highway - and follow it
unerringly. Such are the vistas of radio and electronics - just
beyond the horizon - when the fierce dogs of war bark no longer.
Posted December 29, 2014