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10 thoughts on “Early FM Radio

  1. Brian Page Brian Page says:

    Early FM Radio Incremental Technology in Twentieth Century America is a masterful and definitive dismembering of the mythology surrounding Edwin Howard Armstrong’s invention of what became FM broadcasting in the United States This mythology was first established by Lawrence Lessing’s deeply flawed and highly partisan biography of Armstrong – a mythology that was subseuently echoed uncritically in virtually all subseuent accounts The book centers on Armstrong’s collaboration and close relationship with RCA during the formative years of technology development and explains how both Armstrong and RCA engineers failed to grasp the true potential in wide band FM RCA’s neglect of FM in the early phases happened because they were searching for solutions which FM did not and still does not provide Their subseuent neglect was the result of ineptitude rather than malice Early FM Radio is sophisticated in the historical treatment of this story incorporating scholarly esoteric aspects that contextualize the adoption of FM as subject to both technical and social constructs It’s an academic but still very accessible account that will be of interest to readers curious about the history of FM broadcasting in the United States

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Early FM Radio The commonly accepted history of FM radio is one of the twentieth century’s iconic sagas of invention heroism and tragedy Edwin Howard Armstrong created a system of wideband freuency modulation radio in 1933 The Radio Corporation of America RCA convinced that Armstrong’s system threatened its AM empire failed to develop the new technology and refused to pay Armstrong royalties Armstrong sued the company at great personal cost He died despondent exhausted and brokeBut this account according to Gary L Frost ignores the contributions of scores of other individuals who were involved in the decades long struggle to realize the potential of FM radio The first scholar to fully examine recently uncovered evidence from the Armstrong v RCA lawsuit Frost offers a thorough revision of the FM storyFrost’s balanced contextualized approach provides a much needed corrective to previous accounts Navigating deftly through the details of a complicated story he examines the motivations and interactions of the three communities most intimately involved in the development of the technology—Progressive era amateur radio operators RCA and Westinghouse engineers and early FM broadcasters In the process Frost demonstrates the tension between competition and collaboration that goes hand in hand with the emergence and refinement of new technologiesFrost's study reconsiders both the social construction of FM radio and the process of technological evolution Historians of technology communication and media will welcome this important reexamination of the canonic story of early FM radio