Monthly Archives: July 2016

Battle of Fromelles, 1916

Australian soldiers at Fromelles. Of the men shown here, only three survived, all of whom were wounded. Wikipedia photo.

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Fromelles, fought July 19-20, 1916, in northern France.  British and Australian forces began the battle to prevent the Germans from moving troops to the Battle of the Somme, which was being fought fifty miles away.  5533 Australians–90% of those fighting–were casualties, as were 1547 British (half of those fighting).

Niela Goodelle, 1936


Eighty years ago, this day’s issue of Radio Guide magazine, July 18, 1936, featured Niela Goodelle.

Born Helen Goodell, a friend remarked that her name “reeked of the kitchen,” and suggested she change it.  She turned her first name around and spelled it the way it sounded, and added an “e” to her last name.  The magazine described her as a welcome addition to any broadcast who had carried herself to the topmost pinnacles of radio fame.

According to the Internet Movie Database, she died in New York in 1988.

Here, she performs “Ten Pretty Girls.”

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First Televised Wedding, 1931


The first ever televised wedding took place 85 years ago, as shown here from the July-August 1931 issue of Television News.

The bride and groom, Grace Jones and Frank Du Vall were wed by Dr. A. Edwin Keigwin of the West End Presbyterian Church over the airwaves of W2XCR-WGBS. The video was transmitted over W2XCR, with the synchronized audio being transmitted over WGBS. The magazine reported that thousands of visualists were trilled by this marvel of modern science.  Du Vall was apparently a station engineer

The television studio and 500 watt transmitter were located at 655 Fifth Avenue, New York City. The station used a mechanical system employing a strong arc light with a rotating disc with a “flying spot” to do the scanning. The visual pickup consisted of fixed photocells. The more conventional system at the time placed the spinning disc in front of the photocell. The system used by W2XCR essentially consisted of a beam of light that scanned the subject, synchronized with the spinning disc on the receiver. The system used 60 lines and scanned 20 pictures per second.  The general idea is shown in the illustration here:


The sound was sent by wire to WGBS at Astoria, Long Island.  According to the Spring-Summer 1931 issue of White’s Radio Log, WGBS operated on 600 kHz with 250 watts of power.  The station’s call sign represented its owner, Gimbel’s Department Store, and the station is the predecessor of WINS.

 W2XCR, licensed to Jenkins Television Corporation, operated on 2000-2100 kHz or 2750-2850 kHz.

According to the 1940 census, the couple was happily married and living in Essex, New Jersey, on their ninth anniversary.  The clergyman, Dr. Keigwin, appears to be the author of the 1899 hymn, The Someday By and By.

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Vive La France!

Allons enfants de la Patrie,
Le jour de gloire est arrivé!
Contre nous de la tyrannie
L’étendard sanglant est levé,
Entendez-vous dans les campagnes
Mugir ces féroces soldats ?
Ils viennent jusque dans vos bras
Égorger vos fils, vos compagnes!

Aux armes, citoyens,
Formez vos bataillons,
Marchons, marchons!
Qu’un sang impur
Abreuve nos sillons!

Arise, children of the Fatherland,
The day of glory has arrived!
Against us tyranny’s
Bloody banner is raised
Do you hear, in the countryside,
The roar of those ferocious soldiers?
They’re coming right into our arms
To cut the throats of our sons, our women!

To arms, citizens,
Form your battalions,
Let’s march, let’s march!
Let an impure blood
Water our furrows!

La Marseillaise. Translation, Wikipedia.

Lunar Eclipse of July 15, 1916

A partial lunar eclipse took place on this date one hundred years ago, f July 15 1916.  The eclipse was notable for the effect it had on Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, an attempted crossing of the Antarctic continent.  The expedition consisted of two parties.  One party, led by Shackleton aboard the Endurance, was to make the crossing from the Weddell Sea.  This party was the most famous, since after the loss of the ship, the party had to travel to Elephant Island, then to South Georgia island, and finally make a dangerous land crossing to a whaling station on the other side of that island.

 A man, fresh-faced with dark, brushed-back hair, seated among a group. He is wearing a naval officer's uniform with a high, stiff collar

Aeneas Mackintosh, Ross Sea party commander. Wikipedia image.

The other party was to enter the continent from the Ross Sea, and was led by Aeneas Mackintosh.  This party would head inland and establish depots for the party making the crossing.  In 1916, five of this party were stranded, and needed to reach the relatively safety of a hut at Cape Evans.  An attempt was made in May, but the ice was too thin.  They had to wait for colder weather, which also meant darkness.  The weather was bad during the full moon of June, but on July 15, conditions seemed good.  But when the moon rose, the men were surprised to find that it was about to be eclipsed.  Fortunately, even though the eclipse continued for two hours, it was only partial, and enough light remained to make the journey.

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1936 Code Oscillator

1936JulyPS11936JulyPS2Eighty years ago this month, the July 1936 issue of Popular Science contained the plans for this code practice oscillator.  The main feature was that it required neither headphones nor a battery, since it had sufficient volume to drive a speaker, and ran off household power.

As shown in the schematic, it used a single dual tube, a 12A7, with one half serving as rectifier and the other half as oscillator.  The 12 volts for the filament was supplied with a curtain burner line cord.

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Wartime Sliced Bread Ban


This ad for sliced Wonder Bread appeared in the Milwaukee Sentinel, March 9, 1943. It heralded the end of one of the most unusual aspects of wartime economic controls, namely, the ban on sliced bread.

On January 18, 1943, the War Foods Administration handed down its edict that, as a wartime measure, the sale of sliced bread would be banned. Thereafter, only unsliced loaves would be for sale, and the hapless housewife would need to cut it herself. As the Wonder Bread ad above notes, one effect was that children couldn’t get a slice of bread by themselves.

The exact rationale for the ban was never made entirely clear, but the ostensible reason was that it would save on waxed paper, since the unsliced loaf would stay fresh longer by itslef, and wouldn’t need to be wrapped as well. But there was no shortage of wax paper, and most bakeries had sufficient stocks on hand.

As might be epxected, this edict didn’t go over well with the general public. Some bakeries simply ignored the ban and condtinued to slice the bread for customers on request. One housewife wrote the following letter to the editor of the New York Times:

I should like to let you know how important sliced bread is to the morale and saneness of a household. My husband and four children are all in a rush during and after breakfast. Without ready-sliced bread I must do the slicing for toast—two pieces for each one—that’s ten. For their lunches I must cut by hand at least twenty slices, for two sandwiches apiece. Afterward I make my own toast. Twenty-two slices of bread to be cut in a hurry!

The ban was quickly lifted, sliced bread went back on sale in March, and as the Wonder Bread ad notes, children could once again get a slice of bread all by themselves.




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1966 International Crystal Model MO-23 CB


When I first saw this ad from the Popular Electronics issue from 50 years ago this month, July 1966, I was amazed that they had achieved such a level of miniaturization, until I looked closer.  This is an ad for the Model MO-23 CB radio from International Crystal, which was so compact that it could hide under the dash, in the console, or in the glove compartment. As you can see, the radio isn’t much larger than the microphone.

Closer examination reveals that only the control head is inside the car. As with most two-way radio equipment of the 40’s through 60’s, the guts of the radio was in the trunk. The ad notes that “technically speaking, the MO-23 combines the best advantages of tubes and silicon transistors,” since the control head and power supply were transistorized, but the actual transmitter and receiver used tubes.

At least one example of this radio made it to market, since I did find this e-bay listing for one.  It shows the trunk unit, with at least nine tubes. Three transistors mounted at the back are probably part of the power supply to convert the car’s voltage to the B+ required by the tubes.

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1970 Broadcast Preamp


The listener shown here, on the cover of the July-August 1970 issue of Elementary Electronics, is listening to her Hallicrafters S-120A “Star Quest” receiver, which had just come out. It was a transistorized version of the S-120, and according to a sidebar in the magazine, it incorporated features found only on more complex and expensive receivers. It tuned the broadcast band, as well as 2-30 MHz shortwave, and included a BFO for tuning in CW and SSB.

But she wasn’t tuning the shortwave bands. She is actually listening to the broadcast band, and making use of the TennaBoost, the device sitting on top of the receiver, the plans for which were included in the magazine. The Tenna Boost was an external preamplifier. It was made from a commercial kit from International Crystal, but modified with the external ferrite loop. The amp was said to provide 30 dB gain, with the loopstick providing an additional 10 to 20 dB. The result was that you would hear a station every 10 kHz along the broadcast band. The article stressed the importance of making sure the case was completely shielded, since without the cabinet being securely screwed together, the amp and loopstick would break into oscillation.

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1936 Battery Merchandising


The radio retailer 80 years ago was always looking for a way to add a few more sales, and with summer vacation season underway, one idea was this counter top battery display for the obligatory flashlight.  The display took up only 8-1/2 by 11 inches of counter space, but promised to keep customers shelling out for cells.

The ad, from the Bond Electric Corporation of New Haven, CT, appeared in the July 1936 issue of Radio Retailing magazine.

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