Way Back When
August

On August 11, 1942, patent № 2,292,387 was granted to H. K. Markey (aka Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler; aka Hedy Lamarr) for a “Secret Communication System” using a frequency-hopping signal that could not be tracked or jammed.

RMS Titanic

On August 13, 1912, the United States Congress passed the Radio Act of 1912. The law mandated that all radio stations in the United States be licensed by the federal government, as well as mandating that seagoing vessels continuously monitor distress frequencies. The original bill was initiated during the investigations following the sinking of the Titanic. The act set a precedent for international and federal legislation of wireless communications.

RMS Olympic “Marconi” Room, 1913

August Birthdays

Mary Texanna Loomis (18 August 1880–7 June 1960) was an early radio operator, educator and author. In the early years of World War I, she became interested in the new field of wireless telegraphy. Ms. Loomis became competent enough with the technology to be granted a license with the call 3YA.

     In 1920, she decided to turn her expertise into a career by founding one of the first schools dedicated to radio: the Loomis Radio College in Washington, DC. She wrote the definitive 848-page textbook, Radio Theory and Operating, now regarded a classic of early radio literature.

     Her cousin, Dr. Mahlon Loomis, had conducted early wireless experiments with moderate success (see Way Back When in February).

Image Dissector sketch

Philo T. Farnsworth (19 August 1906–11 March 1971) was an American inventor best known as a pioneer of television technology. He is perhaps best known for inventing the first fully functional all-electronic image pickup device, the “image dissector,” as well as the first fully functional and complete all-electronic television system. He is often referred to as “The Father of Television.”

     He first demonstrated his system to the press on September 3, 1928, and to the public in 1934. Although he won an early patent for his image dissection tube, he lost later patent battles to RCA, which owned the rights to many of inventor Vladimir Zworykin’s TV patents. In 1939, RCA finally conceded to a $1 million licensing agreement that allowed RCA to sell electronic television to the public.

Farnsworth with Image Dissector

Lee de Forest (26 August 1873–30 June 1961) was an American inventor, self-described “Father of Radio,” and a pioneer in the development of sound-on-film recording used for motion pictures. In 1906 he filed his first patent for the vacuum tube he called the three-element “grid Audion”, describing it as a detector of sound.

     By 1907, he had invented an arc-based radiotelephone transmitter and Audion receiver, and he was writing about the possibility of sending music into homes by wireless. His work formed a foundation for later development of vacuum tube technology.

     He is credited with making this prediction: “Short waves will be generally used in the kitchen for roasting and baking, almost instantaneously.”