Way Back When

May 1938

The James Millen Mfg. Co., Inc. was founded by James Millen, W1HRX, a former engineer from the National Company. Millen manufactured very high quality amateur and professional radio products and parts until the factory closed in 1977. Please visit The James Millen Society for articles, photos and schematics.


1 May 1888—Patent #382,280 was granted to Nikola Tesla for the “electrical transmission of power.”


10 May 1752—Benjamin Franklin first tested his lightning rod.

Part of Tesla Power Patent

Top portion of a lightning rod, Designed by Benjamin Franklin, The Frankliniana Collection, The Franklin Institute, Inc., Philadelphia, Photo Credit: Peter Harholdt


David Edward Hughes (16 May 1831 – 22 January 1900), was a British-American inventor, practical experimenter, and professor of music known for his work on the printing telegraph and the microphone. In 1879 he identified what seemed to be a new phenomenon during his experiments: sparking in one device could be heard in a separate portable microphone apparatus he had set up. It was most probably radio transmissions but this was nine years before electromagnetic radiation was a proven concept and Hughes was convinced by others that his discovery was simply electromagnetic induction.

Oliver Heaviside (18 May 1850 – 3 February 1925) was a self-taught English electrical engineer, mathematician, and physicist. Although at odds with the scientific establishment for most of his life, Heaviside changed the face of telecommunications, mathematics, and science for years to come.

In 1902 Heaviside and Arthur E. Kennelly independently suggested the existence of a layer in the upper atmosphere that could account for long-distance radio transmissions. Dubbed the Kennelly–Heaviside layer it was later to be known as the ionosphere. We refer to it today as the E-region which reflects medium-frequency radio waves beyond the horizon.

He is credited for coining the terms conductance, impedance, and inductance, among others.

John Bardeen (23 May 23 1908 – 30 January 1991) was an American physicist and electrical engineer, the only person to have won the Nobel Prize in Physics twice: first in 1956 with William Shockley and Walter Brattain for the invention of the transistor; and again in 1972 with Leon N Cooper and John Robert Schrieffer for a fundamental theory of conventional superconductivity known as the BCS theory.


Bardeen’s developments in superconductivity, which won him his second Nobel, are used in Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (NMR) or its medical sub-tool magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

William Gilbert (24 May 1544 – 30 November 1603), also known as Gilberd, was an English physician, physicist and natural philosopher. He is credited as one of the originators of the term “electricity.”

In his 1600 text De Magnete, he referred to amber’s attractive properties using the adjective, electricus. The Latin word comes from the Greek word for amber, ήλεκτρο (ílektro).

Some regard Gilbert the father of electrical engineering or electricity and magnetism. He invented the first electrical measuring instrument, the electroscope.

Marion Adaire Garmhausen 3BCK

Marion Adaire Garmhausen, 3BCK (28 May 1899) was the first female amateur radio operator to be referred to as “YL.”

In 1920, she submitted an article to QST, “How to Build a Wireless Station.” Edwin C. Adams accepted her article in a letter prefacing, “My Dear YL:- We have had to coin a flew phrase for your benefit as you will readily see that OM will not fit and OL would certainly be most inapplicable.”

Garmhausen Letter

Click the letter to enlarge.