Monthly Archives: October 2017

Halloween 1917


Before the kids had video games, they kept themselves occupied with things like paper dolls, and this Halloween set from the October 1917 issue of Ladies’ Home Journal was practically guaranteed to keep the little goblins busy. The magazine suggested that the page could be mounted on muslin or linen before cutting, which would make sure they would last longer without the tabs tearing quite so easily. The magazine also suggested that a one inch strip of cardboard at the waistline, bent slightly, would allow the dolls to stand.  A slit can be cut along the dotted line on the hats, allowing them to slip on to the respective doll.

Another article in the magazine stated that despite the war, there should be some pleasure, and suggested some party ideas for Halloween.

By clicking on the image above, you can get a full-size image in case you want to try your hand with some century old paper dolls.

1947 TV Census

1947SepOctTeleviserSeventy years ago, television was just getting off the ground, and the September-October 1947 issue of Televiser magazine gives this interesting snapshot of the number of televisions in existence at that time.

The magazine estimated that there were 93,151 sets in existence in the country.  At this point, most of the numbers were fairly exact, since the limited number of manufacturers allowed them to report the exact number manufactured.

One wildcard was the limited number of prewar sets still in use, but this was also relatively easy to estimate.

One wildcard was the number of homemade and kit sets in use.   Stations were hearing more and more reports of “stations becoming increasingly aware of unspecified numbers of home-built receivers” tuning in their signals. The magazine provided a “conservative” estimate of 10,000.

New York was still the hotbed of television, with 51,500 sets, over 40,000 of them in private homes.  An additional 4000 were installed in bars, with more than 7000 on the dealer’s shelf.

Philadelphia weighed in next with 11,000 sets in use.  Washington had 3000, and the TV phenomenon was just starting to move to Baltimore, with 10 sets in homes, with an additional 90 in the hands of dealers.


1947 One Tube Matchbox Radio

1947OctPS1Seventy years ago this month, the October 1947 issue of Popular Science carried the plans for this simple one-tube receiver mounted on a chassis the size of a matchbox.

The set used few parts beyond the 1S4 tube. Tuning was accomplished by a 175-500 pF trimmer capacitor. The article noted that the small capacitor might not cover the full broadcast band, but suggested small plug-in coils to extend the range.

The set required a 1.5 volt battery for the filament, in addition to a B battery, which could be as low as 4.5 volts.



1947 Chemtrails

1947Oct27LifeSince covers such a wide variety of interesting topics, we get plenty of conspiracy buff visitors looking for evidence to prove some conspiracy once and for all.  So it’s not surprising that this is the go-to website for definitive information about such topics as Nikola Tesla or HAARP.

Today, we welcome the conspiracy theorists once again, as we provide the smoking-gun photograph establishing once and for all the existence of chemtrails.  According to the theories, your government is hard at work spraying all manners of chemicals into the atmosphere, cleverly disguised as the ordinary combustion products of jet engines.  But today, we see from this 70 year old photograph that chemtrails were actually being sprayed.  The photo was taken in Cairo 70 years ago, and appeared in the pages of Life magazine 70 years ago today, October 27, 1947.

A cholera epidemic was underway in Egypt, carried by the water supply and insects. When the epidemic reached fly-infested Cairo, desperate measures were taken. Medical supplies were rushed in from a variety of countries including the United States, Russia, and Iraq. With those three countries involved, the conspiracy buffs should have a field day!

And the chemtrail fleet was put into service, as shown in the photo. The planes were equipped with DDT and flew at housetop level throughout the city. As the planes dispersed the thick smelly fog, the nervous Egyptians below opened wide their windows, and hung out their mattresses.

Thanks to the quick intervention of the chemtrails, the epidemic was under control within a week.

Roy Gould, W6UKX, KFXM Engineer & Engineering Professor

1942Oct26BCSeventy-five years ago today, the October 26, 1942, issue of Broadcasting carried this picture of the transmitter engineer of KFXM, San Bernardino, California, who appears to be dutifully taking some transmitter readings for the log.

Because of wartime labor shortages, the engineer responsible for keeping this station on the air was a fifteen year old high school student, Roy Gould, W6UKX.  (A few days ago, we saw how wartime labor shortages led a group of New York radio servicemen to train high school students to keep their shops open for the duration.)

Gould had received his ham ticket shortly before Pearl Harbor, and had managed to get on the air, with a homemade transmitter and receiver on 10 meter AM, before the war shut down amateur radio for the duration.

Since Gould also held his first class commercial license, he managed to stay on the air by getting a job at the broadcast station, which was at the time running  100 watts at 1240 kHz, sharing air time with KPPC, a Pasadena Presbyterian Church station.

According to the caption of the photo, Gould’s plans after the war were to go to college to “become a radio engineer.”

I was able to track down Mr. Gould–or I should say Professor Gould–and learn that his plans changed somewhat, although his early days in radio were clearly the inspiration for his career.  I received a nice e-mail from him, and also found a 1996 Oral history interview.

In his e-mail, he writes:

Thanks for the links, I have never seen this picture.

I remember those days well. I used to operate the transmitter and on Sunday evenings, record a Mutual Don Lee network program on the big 16″ acetate covered disks for replay at a later time. There was no announcer in the studio on Sunday evenings so I even signed the station off at the end of the day. I also covered remote broadcasts of some of the big bands at the San Bernardino Civic Auditorium, setting up microphones and operating the control box during the broadcast.

I got my ham license W6UKX in early 1941, and did a little operating before WWII shut down ham radio. I let it lapse in the 1950’s when I was in graduate school. However, that call sign was never reissued, so I was able to get it back under the vanity call sign program in the 1990’s. I have a web page,, but for some reason it Is down now. I’ll look into that. [Here’s the 2015 archived version at the Wayback Machine.]

Thanks again for the great photo with the short note. 73.


Roy W. Gould

Prof. Roy Gould. Caltech photo.

Gould never became a “radio engineer”.  According to his biography at Caltech, he received his undergraduate degree from Caltech in 1949, with graduate degrees from Stanford and Caltech.  He became Professor of Electrical Engineering and Physics at Caltech, and served a stint as the chairman of the school’s Division of Engineering and Applied Science.

According to his Wikipedia entry, he received the 1994 James Clerk Maxwell Prize for Plasmaphysics, and served as the Director of Fusion Research at the Atomic Energy Commission.

In his 1996 interview, Gould credits his early radio experience as the seed for his career.  He reports that in high school, he was “not a very good student.”  But his uncle’s barn was full of old radio equipment and magazines, and he “used to go up there and read these things and look at the equipment, play with it and stuff like that.  I got started in electronics with crazy experiments.”  Of course, we are also advocates of crazy experiments, and students seeking inspiration will find ideas, some crazier than others, in our science fair idea posts.

The shortage of broadcast engineers meant that he was able to get the job at the radio station, which he reported as being more interesting than was going on in school.

The broadcast station where Gould got his start, KFXM, doesn’t appear to be around in its original form.  However, the station and call letters live on as a noncommercial low-power FM station, KFXM-LP.  The old AM station appears to have been a major Top-40 outlet during the 1960’s, and when it went dark, the low power FM station was licensed to The Organization For the Preservation & Cultivation of Radio to carry on the tradition.

After letting his license lapse during grad school, Gould got his ticket after achieving emeritus status, and is again active on HF, including a number of portable DX operations detailed at his website.

1967 Hart-65 One-Tube Transmitter

1967OctPEHart65Readers of this blog might remember the name Hartland Smith, W8VVD, currently licensed as W8QX.  We previously featured his steam powered transmitter, which appeared in Popular Electronics in 1965.  A number of his projects appeared in PE and other magazines, and the one showed here appeared in Popular Electronics 50 years ago this month, October 1967.

It was a transmitter for the novice which put out a very respectable 65 watts on 80 and 40 meters. It was an updated version of the author’s “Hart 25” transmitter which appeared in the magazine in 1955. Despite the increased power, the new version boasted the same price of about $20 for all of the parts.  The 1955 version had used a 6W6 tube to put out about 25 watts, along with a 5Y3 rectifier in the power supply.

The 1967 version employed a 6HB5 TV horizontal amplifier, which was said to be highly efficient at cranking out RF. Tuning was accomplished by the simple expedient of tuning the pi network for maximum brightness of the pilot lamp. Another pilot lamp was provided for monitoring the current to the crystal, since too much current could fracture it. The article noted that smaller HC6/U crystals (and almost any modern crystal designed for solid-state circuits) should not be used because they would overheat, drift, and possibly shatter.

Cathode keying was used, but since the would mean as much as 700 volts across the key, a 6 volt relay was used for safety. The built-in power supply used a semiconductor bridge rectifier.

Smith recommended a full-size dipole antenna for the transmitter, rather than trying to use it with a random wire or multi-band antenna. He did have one insight that I independently discovered years later: “If an 80-meter dipole is too long for your piece of real estate, don’t hesitate to bend it around corners, or even droop the ends. Whatever the final arrangement, make certain that you have a total of 125′ of wire in the air.”  As you can see from my fan dipole from the June 2010 issue of QST, I’m not adverse to introducing a few zig-zags into an 80 meter dipole in order to squeeze it only a city lot.

He notes that the pi network should be adequate for keeping harmonics to a minimum. However, he also advises that if TVI is a problem, a low-pass filter in line with the antenna is in order. With today’s more stringent requirements for spectral purity, it would probably be a good idea to add the extra filtering even in the absence of TVI reports.

He reported that on the air, he worked numerous stations throughout the U.S. and Canada on both 80 and 40 meters. The rig had a “click-free pure d.c. note that was a joy to copy.” It was reported to be “rock-steady” on 80 meters, and “its 40-meter stability compares favorably with that of many low-cost VFO transmitters presently on the market.”


Hart-75 Transmitter. QST photo.

Hart-75 Transmitter. QST photo.

In addition to writing articles, Hartland Smith was the proprietor of Hart Industries, which produced a number of kits (and a few wired sets), including the Hart 25.  The 1955 Popular Electronics article included the address for Hart Industries for the kit, which included the pre-punched chassis.  Another Hart Industries kit was the similarly named Hart-75 from 1956. That transmitter was reviewed by Lew McCoy, W1ICP, in the February 1956 issue of QST. Even though the basic circuit was quite different from the PE transmitter (it used a 6AG7 oscillator and 807 final), it did have one common design feature, namely, the use of the relay for keying.

The 1956 model had an interesting twist, in that a DPST relay was used, keying the oscillator and amplifier almost simultaneously. But the circuit used something called “differential keying.” The contacts of the relay were set so that the oscillator came on slightly before the amplifier, and stayed on longer. The result was that chirp was greatly reduced.


1961 Life Magazine Fallout Shelters

1961SeptLife1A year before the Cuban Missile Crisis, the September 15, 1961, issue of Life magazine carried a big section of civil defense advice to the nation, along with a letter to the American people from President Kennedy. He stated that war couldn’t solve any of the world’s problems, but that the decision was not ours alone.

Accordingly, he urged the magazine’s readers to carefully consider the issue’s contents to prepare for all eventualities. And the picture above shows how one family did exactly that by building one of the fallout shelters, the basic blueprints of which were included in the magazine. The magazine also told where you could write for more information, and it’s likely this family had done exactly that.

The view outside shows that this family’s town escaped the blast effects of the nuclear weapon, but the fallout had either arrived or was on the way. But life went on. Mom is tucking in the youngest child, while the older brother sits vigilantly near the entrance. (And the shelter did have an entrance, but since the original picture took up two pages in the magazine, it seems to have gotten cut off when the image from the two pages was combined). Meanwhile, the older sister seems to be fixing her hair, and the father is relaxing by lighting up a smoke in the relatively well ventilated enclosure. (In addition to the ventilation provided by the entryway, you can see four ventilation holes on the wall near the ping-pong table.)

The family shown in the picture below had even better protection, since their outdoor corrugated pipe shelter provided protection against the blast as well as fallout.   In this case, instead of going inside the relax with a smoke, it looks like the father is hoping to catch a glimpse of the fireball before slamming the door before the blast wave arrives.


The magazine carried plans for more shelters along with estimates for their cost, as well as some other rudimentary civil defense instructions.  It also suggested the possibilities for private community shelters, such as that constructed for the group shown below:


This shelter was in a suburb of Boise, Idaho.  Families there incorporated and bought shares for $100 each for access to this community shelter dug into a hill.  According to the magazine, the shelter had dormitories, a power plant, kitchen, hospital, and decontamination showers.  In the photo, the families were lining up in peacetime to bring in their emergency rations.


And speaking of peacetime, there was no reason to let all of that perfectly good living space go to waste just because Krushchev hadn’t hit the launch button yet, as demonstrated in the picture above of Amelia Wilson of Vega, Texas.  The family had installed a shelter in the backyard, and Amelia seized upon the opportunity to make it her clubhouse and the perfect place to get away and chat with her friends.  But as the magazine pointed out, the shelter was ready to be put to its intended use at a moments notice, as evidenced by the air blower directly above her and the exhaust pipe running out of the ceiling.  And the radio entertains her now, but it’s also all ready to go at a moment’s notice to tune in civil defense information and warnings on CONELRAD.

1942: Putting High School Students to Work Servicing Radios

1942OctRadioRetailingSeventy-five years ago, these high school students in Watertown, N.Y., were seen as a resource that would help the radio industry deal with wartime labor shortages. An article in the October 1942 issue of Radio Retailing explained the plan by which high school students could be trained to fill the gap. A group of servicemen in northern New York were planning to run an intensive course in radio servicing, open to high school seniors with a year of physics. The course was to be offered five nights per week, two hours each night, for ten weeks, and was taught by local servicemen who would both lecture in the classroom and offer periodic trips to the shop to tackle real receiver problems.

Classes would be small, and after it was completed, one or two students would take over the shop of an owner who had entered the military, running the shop on an evenings-only basis. The student would be paid a weekly wage based upon volume. Repairs would be paid by check or money order. The idea was to keep the shop open as a community service, with enough income to cover the shop’s rent, overhead, and cost of equipment.

The students would continue to attend school during the day and work at night.

1957 Wireless TV Sound


Sixty years ago, domestic tranquility was restored in this household, as shown in this picture from the October 1957 issue of Popular Science.  Dad and Junior can watch the fight, while Mom and Little Sister work on the piano lessons.

This major breakthrough was accomplished after extensive testing by the editors of the magazine. Every TV owner had been waiting for the good news: “a simple way for each member of the family to turn the sound off or on, to suit himself, without annoying anyone else.”

The magic that made this possible was the inductive loop. Because the headset was wireless, “there’s no dangling cord to tether you to the console.” The headsets could be made in a couple of hours, and the magazine proposed three varieties.

1957OctPSLoopThe modification of the set and the installation of the loop was an almost trivial matter.  The magazine warned to unplug the set and let it sit for 15 minutes “for the tubes to cool off” (and hopefully for the electrolytics in the power supply to lose some of their charge).  Then, the lead to the speaker was snipped and hooked to the inductive loop, as shown here.  The magazine recommended adding the closed-circuit jack shown in the circuit here, so that the loop could be unplugged on those occasions when the speaker was desired.

The loop could be run under the carpet, as shown here, tucked away near the ceiling, or even placed in the joists in the basement below.  While reception was best when the headsets were at the same level as the loop, the magazine’s tests showed that any of these arrangements would work well.

1957OctPS2This loop formed the primary winding of a room-sized audio transformer.  The secondary windings would be in the individual headsets.  For the kids, the magazine recommended the spaceman style shown here, with the assurance that the kids would love them.

As revealed by the diagram below, these headsets were simplicity itself.  The coil was worn around the head, and hooked directly to the headphones.  The magazine suggested that Mom should be put in charge of suitably decorating the loop with colored tape.  No other electronics were necessary for these headphones for the kids.  The output of the coil was sufficient to drive the headphones.


Mom and Dad warranted somewhat more discrete looking receivers, and these could be either of the models shown below.  Mom had a version similar to the kids’ version, but the loop was not worn.  It was apparently thought that she could set it in a convenient spot, and it was hooked directly to a small earphone.  The magazine noted that the earphone was so small that it could hardly be seen.  The only problem that might result would be forgetting to take it off before going to bed!


Dad is seen using a slightly more complicated version, but still easily within the capabilities of anyone able to wire up a lamp cord.  It used a much smaller coil, amplified with the venerable CK722 transistor.  It was the size of the proverbial pack of cigarettes, and the two penlight batteries would keep it running for a thousand hours.

Those wishing to duplicate this idea today can save a great deal of coil winding time by using a telephone pickup coil instead of winding the coils for the individual receivers.  If a set of high-impedance headphones is available, it could be fed without any electronics.  The CK722 is more or less unobtainium, except at very high prices.  But any small audio amplifier could be put into service.  If you want to make your own, hundreds of circuits are available using the readily available 2N2222 transistor.



Fahnestock Clips: 1947


It’s been 70 years, so perhaps they’re out of catalogs. But it won’t hurt to print the coupon, send it in, and see if they still have any.  This ad for Fahnestock clips appeared in Radio News in October 1947.

Just in case they’re out of catalogs, there’s no need to worry.  You can still get them at Amazon: