Quist Quiz, Jan. 1957

This little quiz appeared in QST sixty years ago, January 1957. The answer will appear tomorrow. If you can’t wait, the answer appeared in the magazine’s February 1957 issue.


1977 Pong-IV Kit


Forty years ago this month, this couple is enjoying a friendly game of Pong, as shown on the cover of the January-February 1977 issue of Elementary Electronics.

As detailed in the accompanying article, they put the game together themselves, thanks to the Interfab Pong-IV video game kit. The unit contained 43 integrated circuits, and came in three forms. For the purist kit builders, the set came with all of the parts, and the builder had to populate the circuit board and solder them. To save a considerable amount of labor, it was also available with the board pre-populated with parts, held in place by a plastic blister pack. The builder then merely had to solder the multitude of small connections and then remove the plastic. Finally, it was available in semi-kit form, with the circuit board already soldered, and only minimal mechanical assembly required.

The kit was originally marketed with a built-in UHF transmitter to hook directly to the TV. However, the FCC cracked down and required type acceptance, which wasn’t economically viable. Therefore, the PC board was all ready to go, and the manufacturer provided a parts list and instructions to install the transmitter, using a 2N5770 transistor and a few other parts. Other options were to separately purchase a UHF transmitter, for a cost of about $8.50, or tap right into the TV’s video amplifier (this was before the days of most TV’s having a video input jack).

The kit was offered by the Interfab Corp., of Laguna Niguel, California. The completed kit sold for $89.50, with the less assembled versions being about $10 less.

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1917 Miniature Receiver

1917janpm2A century ago, the January 1917 issue of Popular Mechanics showed this surreptitious radio receiver having the size and appearance of a fountain pen. It was said to “make it possible for a man in the streets to pick up messages sent out from any station in the immediate vicinity.”

A tiny speaker was mounted at one end, behind which three small batteries provided power. The miniature audio tube was mounted at the other end, with coil and condenser behind it. Tuning was effected my moving a ring encircling the coil. Tiny connectors on each side were provided for antenna and ground. The antenna could consist of a wire running down a sleeve to a cane, and the ground was a wire running down the trouser to a metal plate in the heel of one shoe. To listen, the user could hold the cane at arm’s length into the air and put his heel against a fire plug or other metal object. By holding the tiny speaker into his ear, he could pick up messages without difficulty.

Boy Scouts Distribute Air Raid Posters: 1942

In hindsight, the likelihood of air raids against Chicago during the Second World War seems small. But the Windy City, as well as the entire region, was a bit safer thanks to the efforts of the Boy Scouts, as reported by the Chicago Tribune75 years ago today, January 12, 1942. According to this article, the 110,000 Boy Scouts in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan were making plans to distribute air raid instruction posters throughout the region.

According to the article, Chief Scout Executive James E. West had wired civil defense officials that the Scouts “would keep on the job until the nation is blanketed with air raid posters and all communities can join the Boy Scouts in being prepared for the emergencies that war may bring us.”

For more information about Boy Scouts during World War II, see my earlier post.

Wabash Blackout Lamp, 1942


Shown here from 75 years ago is a blackout light bulb, manufactured by the Wabash Appliance Corp., 335 Carroll St., Brooklyn, NY. The bulb provided a beam of blue light that was projected downward, for use indoors during wartime blackouts. The inside of the 25 watt bulb had a silver reflector to hide filament glare and direct the beam downward.

It is shown here mounted in a socket, from the January 1942 issue of Service magazine.


1917 Boys’ Life Transmitter

1917janblA hundred years ago this month, the January 1917 issue of Boys’ Life magazine carried the plans for constructing this wireless sending set. The author, A. Frederick Collins, had written the previous month on how to construct a receiver.

He notes that five parts are required: A spark coil, a tuning coil, a telegraph key, a spark gap, a battery, and an aerial switch, hooked up as shown here. The spark coil, the same type used for gas engine firing, was available for about five dollars. For those who wished to build their own, he directed readers to his own Book of Wireless, which contained more complete plans.

The tuing coil could also be procured for about five dollars, but he notes that a boy could easily make his own, and provides details.

He concludes:

A wireless telegraph set will give you all the apparatus you need for you to experiment with and theory to rack your brains over and on for the rest of your life, and it will also give you a liberal education in a highly specialized field of electricity.

USS Arizona, 1917

1917janpmShown here in Popular Mechanics, January 1917, is the recently launched USS Arizona passing down the East River from the New York Navy Yard on her first voyage into the Atlantic. The ship had been launched in June 1915 and christened with a bottle of water taken from the first to flow through the spillway of the Roosevelt Dam.

The 608 foot long ship remained stateside during the First World War. She was sent to Turkey in 1919 at the beginning of the Greco-Turkish war, and transferred to the Pacific Fleet for the rest of her career.

It was regularly used for training between the wars, and after the 1933 Long Beach earthquake, the ship’s crew provided aid to the survivors. In April 1940, she was transferred to Pearl Harbor with the rest of the Pacific Fleet.

Arizona sunk and burning, December 7, 1941. Wikipedia photo.

During the attack of December 7, 1941, a bomb detonated in a powder magazine, causing the ship to explode violently and sink, with the loss of 1177 lives.

The ship remains a permanent memorial to “be maintained in honor and commemoration of the members of the Armed Forces of the United States who gave their lives to their country during the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941.”

Alien Surrender of Shortwave Radios, Cameras, Guns, 1942



Shown here, in the January 1942 issue of Radio Retailing magazine, are resident aliens in Los Angeles lining up at a police station to turn in their cameras, guns, and radios capable of receiving short wave.

The magazine noted that Attorney General Francis Biddle had issued an order that enemy aliens, that is, citizens of Japan, Germany, and Italy, turn these items in to the nearest police station.  An alternative would be to have receiver rendered incapable of receiving signals other than those in the standard broadcast band.  Therefore, the order “seems to open the way for radio servicemen to render a useful service of eliminating shortwave reception from aliens’ sets–and get paid for it.  In this way, the alien may keep his set for regular broadcast listening to U.S. stations, while the police authorities are spared the storage of hundereds of radio sets which they are poorly equipped to handle.  And the radio man collects $1 to $2 per radio set altered.

Typically, the modification consisted of removing the shortwave coils, and providing the set’s owner with an affidavit documenting the modification.

75 years ago today, the Chicago Tribune, January 6, 1942, carried an article regarding the status of the order.  It reported that local officials found the response so far to be unsatisfactory, since fewer than 2550 cameras, guns, and radios had been surrendered as of the previous night, despite an alien enemy population of more than 50,000 (28,000 Germans, 21,000 Italians, and 250 Japanese).

The Chicago police reported that the items surrendered included several antiques, including an 1878 breach loader. One man was reported to have “embarrassedly handing over a sawed off shotgun, possession of which had been taboo in Chicago ever since the prohibition gang war era. He said that he inherited the weapon from his father.”

One man, not bothering to wait for a receipt, simply drove up to the police station, hurried a radio from his car, and drove away. Another motorist tossed a $100 radio from his car and drove off.

The paper also reported a supplemental order from the Attorney General listing the following prohibited items:

Weapons or implements of war or component parts thereof; ammunition of all kinds; bombs; explosives or material used in the manufacture of explosives; signal devices; codes or ciphers: papers, documents, or books In which there may be invisible writing; photographs, sketches, pictures, drawings, maps, or graphical representation of any military or naval installations or equipment of any army, ammunitions, implements of. device or thing used or intended to be used in the combat equipment of the land or naval forces of the United States or of any military or naval post, camp, or station.


Maybelle Carstens, KWSC, Pullman, Wash., 1927


Shown here on the cover of the January 1927 issue of Radio Digest is Maybelle Carstens of KWSC, the radio station of Washington State College in Pullman, Washington.  According to the magazine, this “demure maiden” was a favorite of a large circle of admirers who listened to the station.  She was described as a reader and regular member of the staff.

The station originally came on the air in 1922 as KFAE, changing its call to KWSC in 1925. When the college became Washington State University, call letters changed to KWSU in the 1960’s.  It remains the flaship station of Northwest Public Radio.

About the same time that Miss Carstens was on the air, another student by the name of Edward R. Murrow had enrolled in the college in 1926 and got his start in radio at the station.

1941 Popular Science “Summer-Winter” Radio


1941JanPS2In January 1941, Popular Science carried the plans for this “summer-winter” receiver. During the summer months, it went in a cabinet “finished in striped airplane-luggage canvas” and was powered by batteries. But in the summer month, the chasis could be slipped into a smaller walnut cabinet powered by household current.

The superhet employed four tubes, two 1A5GT’s, 1H5GT, and 1N5GT. For use in the “winter” mode, it also included a 117Z6GT rectifier. When run on AC power, the filaments were in series with a 2500 ohm, 10 watt, resistor as well as a pilot light. In addition to dropping some of the voltage, the pilot light served as a fuse to protect the filaments.

The article’s author was long time Popular Science radio writer Arthur C. Miller.


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