Download The Continuous Wave: Technology and American Radio, by Hugh G.J. Aitken PDF

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By Hugh G.J. Aitken

Hugh Aitken describes a serious interval within the historical past of radio, whilst non-stop wave know-how first made trustworthy long-distance instant conversation attainable and spread out possibilities for broadcasting voice and music.

Originally released in 1985.

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Additional resources for The Continuous Wave: Technology and American Radio, 1900-1932

Sample text

This mode of presentation should not be taken as implying that I subscribe to a heroic theory of either 14 Prologue technological or organizational change. It does reflect a belief that, al­ though the development of technology and the rise of complex hierar­ chical organizations can be depicted as historical forces that transcend individual personalities, nevertheless they work themselves out through the decisions of individual men and women, and there is a certain gain in directness and immediacy when we show this process in operation.

In Syntony and Spark it had been possible to use a biographical approach almost exclusively. Hertz, Lodge, Marconi—these were unambiguously the individuals responsible for the "translations" that made a commercial communications system out of 22 Prologue Maxwell's equations. Formal organizations played a certain role—Mar­ coni's Wireless Telegraph Company, the British Post Office—but they remained largely in the background. As the story moved into the twentieth century, however, this would no longer do.

The entry of large cor­ porations into continuous wave radio, best symbolized by AT&T's pur- Prologue 23 chase of de Forest's audion patents in 1912 and GE's creation of RCA in 1919, represented attempts to bring the new technology under control, to develop it in directions that would further corporate interests and control its use in areas where it might threaten those interests. Longterm capital could be assured; predictable markets could be guaranteed (or so it was thought); and the organized intelligence of corporate re­ search laboratories could be mobilized to perfect and extend what in­ dividual inventors had created.

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