March 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.
Although you might expect
everyone would be so thrilled with the end of World War II that letters to the
editor of magazines like Radio-Craft would not contain picayune gripes
about things like whether or not information on formerly secret technical
systems should be published for the general public. Of course no publication
would knowingly expose such details, especially given that in the day the vast
majority of the population was patriotic and put the country's good over their
own. You can be sure that if mention of loran, radar, handi-talkies, and
other strategic intelligence would compromise the nation's security, it would
never have made it to the printing press. Otherwise, those responsible would be
quickly rounded up and sentenced to long prison terms, and I don't recall
reading about a bunch of editors disappearing during or after the war. Hugo
Gernsback recounts here some of the amazing new technology - both components and
systems - that were now (then) available in early 1946.
War-radio has made radio history .... It already has strongly affected all peacetime
During the past few months we have received
a number of letters from readers who strongly object to our wartime disclosure articles
in Radio-Craft. For the record, let it be stated that the influx of such letters
was by no means large, which speaks well for the majority of our readers who kept
their feet on the ground. There is always a small minority who are so blinded by
their prejudices that they cannot visualize that wartime radio has actually compressed
ten to twelve years of radio development into a short four-year period.
As we have mentioned here before, Radio-Craft would be singularly derelict in
its duty if it did not present to its readers ALL the important war developments,
particularly those which will affect radio completely, during the years to come.
Those benighted readers who write - adversely about Radio-Craft's reportage of important
radio development, completely forget that they themselves will be using scores of
radio war applications in their own radio work in the very near future.
Let us review just a few of the more important war-radio developments which are
already in the peace service now.
Loran, one of the brilliant wartime radio navigation developments, is actually
being used now on a great many ships. Exact navigation is today a routine performance,
a thing which was never possible before. Dead reckoning, "shooting the sun," are
rapidly becoming obsolete. Loran for both ship and airplane has established extremely
accurate navigation. It became an everyday performance a few short months after
It is certain that even such light craft as yachts and motor boats will, in due
time: be Loran-equipped, Thus, those servicemen who object to the publishing of
war-time radio articles dealing with it, will be called upon, in the not too distant
future, to service such Loran" carrying small boats!
We have mentioned the peacetime uses of radar a number of times before, so we
will not repeat them here, except add a recent one whereby the blind can now be
guided by means of quasi-radar portables. These are already appearing on the market
and they too may have to be serviced by the very objectors to "wartime information."
Radar, Loran, and other war inventions created overnight a demand for cathode-ray
tubes, such as never existed in the past. Never mass-produced before, they were
made by the hundreds of thousands during the war years. The tremendous experience
gained in this mass-production of cathode-ray tubes not only brought vast improvements
to that art, but also appreciably reduced the price.
Cathode-ray tubes will have thousands of different new applications during the
coming years. As every thinking radioman knows, this probably would not have happened
so soon if it had not been for the wartime pressure in that field.
Another wartime radio application - the proximity fuse - was directly responsible
for advancing miniature radio tubes to an undreamed of extent. We are now reaping
the peacetime benefits and our miniature sets, which are now beginning to appear
on the market, are the immediate result of the invaluable radio research in proximity-fuse
The handie-talkie war development is coming into rapid realization in Citizen's
Radio, police radio, and many other applications. Here again the mass-production
of the handie-talkie, as well as the walkie-talkie, .has advanced the art in this
particular domain tremendously.
Radar engineering has already given us today, pulse-time or pulse-position modulation.
Wartime applications of microwaves have given us communication between trains, as
well as communication between different sections of the same train, besides many
other commercial applications.
The magnetron, without which high power microwaves would not be practical today,
is also in part a wartime radio application. From the magnetron many other new applications
will be found in the very near future. The power Klystron too owes much to wartime
Speaking generally, wartime advances have also greatly changed many radio components.
Radio tubes, radio condensers, and resistors - all have been improved in many different
ways. This is often not apparent on the surface; and, it is necessary to have some
knowledge of wartime applications of many of the components to understand the "how"
Take, for instance, electrolytic condensers. They now measure only a fraction
of the size which they were before the war. So do resistors. Both of the latter
components, due to stringent wartime requirements, will now work at much higher
temperatures, as well as much lower temperatures, because of unusual demands that
were made upon them during the war.
Before the war, the manufacturers of many radio parts did not have to worry about
operation in the steaming tropics, nor in temperatures of 40 below zero. These were
routine wartime requirements and occasioned a complete revolution in the building
of any number of radio components. This again means that when future sets are being
serviced, they will not fail as frequently as they did before the war.
The few examples cited here should be sufficient to drive home the lesson that
the present-day radioman must consistently expand his radio horizon if he wishes
to be well informed of what is going on, even in his own field. It should be an
axiom that every branch in radio and electronics is profoundly affected by every
other branch in radio and electronics.
Posted June 3, 2021