"Radar, Electronics and Television"


By LARRY E. GUBB, Chairman of the Board, Philco Corporation, Philadelphia, Pa.

Delivered Before the Cornell Club of Michigan, Detroit, Michigan, October 17, 1945

Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. XII, pp. 90-94.

RADAR and the atomic bomb were unquestionably the two outstanding scientific developments of World War II. The atomic bomb came in the last few days before Japan's capitulation, but radar and its many developments had already made a tremendous contribution to winning the German war and had brought the Japanese phase very near to a victorious conclusion.

Atomic energy seems certain radically to change our technology, our industry—in fact our whole economic life. But in its practical peacetime applications, I doubt if we are to see any great transformations take place in the near future.

Radar and electronics, on the other hand, because of the years of fundamental research in television, and the tremendous impetus resulting from the war in applying this fundamental research, will begin immediately in the postwar period to have peacetime applications never before dreamed of.

The greatest secrecy has surrounded these radar and electronic developments during the war. Their contributions both to the offense and defense were so great that only recently have the Government authorities allowed much of the story to be told.

Practically every key radar project had a code name that kept from revealing its true function. For a long time to come you will hear and read about the "George", the "Dog", the "Loran", and "Rebecca", and most spectacular of all— the "Mickey".

Submarine Menace

Let us go back to the early months of 1942 for a moment The thin thread of trans-Atlantic shipping that tied the United States to Britain was menaced by U-boat wolf packs, Not only the ships on which Britain's very life depended but also American coastal vessels were being sunk within sight of our own cities all along the Atlantic seaboard. At that time, with the U-boat the major German weapon against the United States, a counter weapon had to be developed quickly , . . . and airborne radar was the answer to guide the planes quickly to the surfaced submarines and make them an easy target.

The first American search radar could spot a surfaced submarine no farther than eight nautical miles. Then came the GEORGE. This was the first aircraft radar to present a complete map on its picture tube. From this circular radar picture, it was easy to tell not only the distance of a target but also its exact direction in degrees. Using the GEORGE a plane could spot a surfaced submarine 25 nautical miles away, or three times the range of the earlier equipment For a long time, the Germans did not know how our planes were so quickly and surely finding their submarines. They did not suspect that it was micro-wave radar!

Gradually the Allies got the upper hand; great numbers of the U-boats were destroyed, and our cargo ships and transports began to move more freely across the Atlantic.

Then the German scientists got busy. They designed newtypes of submarines that were far harder to locate. You will remember the scare we had in the early months of 1945 when the Germans put to sea in U-boats that were reported to stay under water for 30 days with only a breathing tube, nicknamed the Schnorkel, above the surface of the water.

By this time, millions of our boys were in England and on the continent, and they had to be constantly supplied with ammunition and food, and this Schnorkel submarine, for a time, offered one of the greatest threats to the Allies winning the war.

Now it was our scientists' turn to produce a counter-weapon, and out of our laboratories came new supersensitive radar equipment which had the power and range to pick up even the tiny portion of the Schnorkel tube sticking above the water.

If the war had not ended when it did, the NEW radar would have revealed and helped to destroy every Schnorkel submarine on the high seas.

Beyond any question, this victory of radar science over the submarines was one of the most thrilling in the entire history of the war!

Radar Bombing

Another scientific triumph was the precision bombing by our Air Forces in all kinds of weather—day or night.

You have read the testimony of Field Marshal Goering as to the devastating effects of precision bombing on Nazi production and communication lines. It was Radar, also, which made this possible.

The development of the "Mickey" Radar Bombsight was what the Army Air Forces and Navy called a crash assignment. They needed it in a desperate hurry. It came at a time when the Eighth Air Force was just beginning to build into a formidable striking force with hundreds of heavy bombers available in England. This huge fleet of bombers, however, was grounded and useless day after day because of bad weather conditions so prevalent in Western Europe.

A new type of Radar Equipment for pin-point bombing regardless of weather was critically needed if our air attack was not to fail. It was designed and produced with such great speed that as early as November 1943 the "Mickey", as the new equipment was nicknamed, enabled the 8th Air Force Bombers to destroy the U-boat pens at Wilhelmshaven through heavy clouds. And in February 1944 the "Mickey" dealt a death blow to Hitler's Luftwaffe by bombing German ball-bearing and aircraft factories.

It was "Mickey" Radar, again, that made it possible for allied bombers to pulverize Nazi coastal defenses just 30 minutes before the invasion of Normandy, which saved many thousands of American lives.

This bombing attack was so devastating that General H. H. Arnold is reported to have called the Radar Bombsight the most important piece of equipment used by the Army Air Forces in the invasion of France.


Another piece of Radar—the Loran—is credited with being the most revolutionary instrument of navigation since the invention of the first compass.

The Loran enables the navigator of a plane to find his exact position at any instant . . . accurately and rapidly. In the plane, signals are picked up from pairs of "Master" and "Slave" beacon stations on the ground. These beacons may be 1500 miles away. Beacon signals appear on an aircraft Loran indicator tube similar to a television picture tube and give the distance of the plane from the beacon stations. Then the navigator consults a simple chart and knows exactly where his plane is at that instant.

So an airplane or ship equipped with this new instrument can travel any predetermined course, day or night, regardless of weather, without depending on celestial navigation.

It was planes equipped with the Loran that carried bombs, explosives . . . incendiaries . . . even the atomic bomb to the homeland of Japan and crushed them without the need of invasion. And Loran helped them to return safely to their tiny island bases in the vastness of the Pacific.

In the peacetime world, this radar system of aerial navigation will help to make worldwide air travel safer and more rapid than ever before.

Proximity Fuse

Another piece of hitherto secret electronic equipment is the Proximity Fuse, containing a tiny radio transmitter and receiver no bigger than a pint milk bottle . . . with five miniature vacuum tubes placed in the nose of shells, bombs and rockets. After the projectile is fired, this tiny radio sends out radio beams and in return receives a reflected signal. When the projectile is 60-70 feet from the target it is detonated by the fuse, thereby making its explosive force many, many times greater than if it were exploded on contact.

This Proximity Fuse made anti-aircraft fire many times more effective because it was not necessary to hit the target to destroy it. It was a leading factor in curtailing the Buzzbomb attacks on London, at a most critical time, and it saved thousands and thousands of tons of shipping and American lives by neutralizing the Japanese suicide bomber attacks.

War Windup

These are only four of the great electronic developments during World War II. But they may give you some idea of the advances that have taken place in the whole field of electronics in the short space of 48 months.

In his biennial report, General George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff of the United States Army, states that the radar equipment developed by the U. S. and Britain was superior to the electronic devices of either Germany or Japan.

I could spend hours telling you of other wartime developments, but I feel that you are most interested in how this greatly expanded knowledge of electronics may be applied to our peacetime future.

Electronics Peacetime Future

Thanks to the development of Radar, air travel will be far safer than ever before. Planes equipped with radar instruments should never crash into mountains in darkness or bad weather. Nor should there be collisions between planes. Passenger planes will be guided with unerring accuracy to tiny island bases in every sea and ocean.

Installed in ships, Radar will enable even the largest vessels to come into harbors in dense fog. Collision between ships at sea will be avoided; and even icebergs—the ever present dread of mariners—can be detected and avoided by Radar.

Industrial Uses of Electronics

Industrial uses of electronics which were already important before the war have received a tremendous impetus . . . and new industrial uses will continue to be found as the years go by.

Tiny vacuum tubes, some of them no larger than your little finger, are opening up new fields in the way of electronic controls that make manufacturing safer, more precise and more automatic than ever.

We have electronic enumerators that count passing articles far faster than the eye can see.

Electronic sorters that discard oversize and undersize, off color or defective articles . . . with amazing speed.

Electronic devices inspect the inside of things where the eye cannot see.

Other electronic instruments regulate temperature, eliminate smoke and automatically control entire batteries of operating machines.

Great new opportunities for expansion lie ahead in this field of industrial electronics to make factory life easier, better, and safer.


Tremendous new developments are taking place in the whole field of communications. We are now at work on a technique whereby you may have a telephone in your automobile. Soon you may be able to pick up the telephone in your car and call your home . . . your office . . . while driving along the highway.

You may soon be able to write a letter or a telegram . . . drop it in a slot, and have it reproduced instantly— thousands of miles away . . . by television . . . with the speed of light, and for less than it now costs to send an air-mail letter.

Link System

The day may not be far distant when all our telephone and telegraph wires may be obsolete—replaced by wireless link systems. You will see the beginning of this development in the rebuilding of Europe.

It is inconceivable that the thousands and thousands of miles of wired communications which have been destroyed in Europe will be replaced—when these signals can be beamed through the air by the use of radio links which can be installed so much more cheaply and with such a low cost of maintenance.

And it's inconceivable that this radio link development will not come into widespread use in this country.

For instance, our railroads which depend on wired communications to direct the operation of their trains and to assure the safety of their passengers, have a tremendous problem of maintenance in keeping these wires open in bad winter weather. A series of automatic radio link stations along a railroad's right of way—with uninterrupted service because the signals are carried through the air—would be a tremendous improvement. Several major railroads are already experimenting with such a system.


One of the greatest futures for radio relay link systems is in carrying both broadcasting and television signals, as well as other forms of communication, into mountainous and undeveloped areas . . . where cost and maintenance are basic considerations.

We, in America, take for granted and enjoy nationwide network radio programs, which are put on at a central source and carried to the various broadcasting stations by wire. But only a small part of the world has these advantages, and means must be developed for better communication.

Take China, for instance. The Chinese speak a great many different dialects. One province can't even understand the language of another. The Central Government is thinking of establishing broadcast stations in the principal populated areas—connected by radio links—because in that mountainous country the cost of wire installation and maintenance would be prohibitive. The Government then hopes to begin gradually to teach the people a single language and thus help to unite the nation.

Knowledge builds understanding, and there is a tremendous opportunity to educate millions of people in the world through the use of radio broadcasting. It may have a great effect in the future on world peace.


There is a similar problem in India with its caste system and many languages. And here again, the Indian government is thinking in terms of a network broadcasting system which will bring their people closer together.

The impact of a centralized communications system upon the lives, customs, and habits of these tremendous populations could be very far reaching.

There are two outstanding immediate developments in the radio industry in which you will participate in the near future. One of them is the development of a new FM broadcasting system, which will be nationwide. The other is Television.

The entire radio industry is on the eve of great revolutionary developments.

For the past 25 years we have had sound radio broadcasting—and while there have been constant advances and improvements—there have been no fundamental changes.

While we had FM in a limited way before the war, tremendous improvements have been made in this radio system during the war . . . for FM radio was one of the principal means of military communications—particularly between tanks.

FM will do two things that have hitherto been impossible.

First of all, it will give us a high degree of freedom from noise and static. It will also make it possible, if the public so desires, to provide improved "high-fidelity" reproduction of musical programs.

How many times, particularly during the summer months, have you wanted to listen to your favorite radio program, only to have it so badly marred by static that you finally had to give it up?

With FM you will be able to listen without interference even during heavy thunderstorms.

In the second place, consider, if you will what it may mean to the public and the radio industry to have hundreds and perhaps thousands of new broadcasters go on the air. We have long since reached the limit in the number of possible AM stations.

Lots of people with the money and a desire to broadcast have not had a chance to do so. There just are not enough AM channels to go around,

FM uses another part of the spectrum and thousands of new stations can go on the air. In Detroit, for example, you have 5 AM stations now in operation. With FM, you may be able to have as many as 25.

Since FM makes it possible for new groups and new interests to enter broadcasting, it will probably result in greater competition for the attention of the radio audience. You may very well hear new and more varied types of programs on the air.

This development, too, should benefit the listening audience.

I predict that within the next five years, close to $2 billion will be invested in new FM stations and in receiving sets that will allow the public to listen to FM programs.


By far the most important development from which the public will derive the greatest benefit as a result of the electronic advances in World War II, will be Television for the home.

I predict it will not be many years before practically every

family in the United States will have a television receiver in their home just as they have a radio set today.

With television, you will be able to sit in your own living room and see the great events of the world pass before your eyes.

Can you imagine the tremendous interest of having television give you a front row seat at the inauguration of the next President of the United States!

Can you imagine watching the finest football games—and see them, play by play—in your own living room in Detroit —even though the game may be in Los Angeles!

Can you imagine the interest your wife will have in viewing fashion's latest creations when she sees them by television right in her own home!

You have been promised for about 10 years that television was just around the corner. We can now tell you definitely that it is here. Probably never before has the product of a great new industry reached such an advanced stage before it was offered to the public.

The radio industry had already invested about $25,000,000 in television research and development before the war. And on top of all the research carried on in this field by the pioneering companies before the war . . . is now added the great store of new knowledge and new experience resulting from the war effort.

It was peacetime television research that made radar the outstanding weapon that it was, and the development of radar in turn greatly advanced the whole television art.

Just a few months ago, the FCC after a thorough study of the entire problem, gave television the "green light" and assigned it definite, permanent frequency allocations in the spectrum.

Broadcasters, set manufacturers and the public can all proceed now with confidence, to get the television industry going on a substantial basis, and I believe you will be surprised at the great speed with which it grows.

It is my opinion that the Commission is to be greatly commended on the vigorous stand it took in clearing the way for television.

In my opinion the Commission has adopted the policy best suited to the public interest—and one that will give the American public television at the earliest possible date. And they held to this position in the face of a great deal of opposition by certain broadcasting groups who wanted television delayed.

They have provided the means for the American public to get the benefit of television in the frequencies we are now using with a black and white picture. And that picture will be highly acceptable, entertaining and exciting to the American people.

The Commission has further provided for a continuation of research in the higher frequencies and in color which will assure that the television art will be continually and steadily advanced.

The problem of launching television is not an easy one— nor is it an inexpensive one. In the advance of television a great deal of programming research and high cost program production is necessary to make it available to the American public. And this must be done in anticipation of later recovering what has been spent—because, of course, there is no television audience of any size at the present time.

But the FCC, by clearing the way for receivers to be made and broadcast programs to be put on the air in the frequencies where our experience lies has assured the American public of television reception in many of our important cities within a matter of months.

Further, I believe that it will take a number of years before satisfactory programs in the high frequencies—and color—on an every-day basis can be given to the Americanpublic.

So, in effect, as the industry grows and develops, the American public can and will be enjoying television in black and white and in the lower frequencies.

Eventually, we will have color in the higher frequencies that will give an even finer picture.

I doubt, however, if anyone in this audience would have foregone the pleasure of his automobile as a means of transportation—or the pleasure of motoring—for many years to wait for the development of 1945.

It is my feeling that television, like any other industry, will develop faster and better when put to use, rather than if it were to be restricted to the laboratory.

And television, in my opinion, is far too big an industry and too important to the American people to be held up for nebulous future developments when the present picture is as good as it is today and can give the American public so much in the way of pleasure and entertainment immediately.

Projection Television

As to television receivers, the better ones will probably be of the projection type, where the image, reflected on a screen is large enough and clear enough so that you and your family will be able to see it anywhere in the average size room.

In the latest design of projected television, you will be able to look at the picture in daylight or with the lights on, so that the idea of sitting in total darkness for a television show will soon be a thing of the past.

The lower priced sets will probably be of the present type—where the picture is seen on the end of a cathode-ray tube like that used in radar. The size and detail of this picture will be reflected in its price.

And my prediction is—you will shortly have good television sets from $150 up—and maybe even lower.

Link Development

One of the greatest problems of television is that of establishing network programs.

Network television broadcasts are necessary to good tele* vision. We all have been educated to expensive, elaborate radio network programs—and we will not be satisfied in television with anything less than a network system of programming. Also the economics of television broadcasting indicate the desirability of network programs. This forces on us the need of linking local television stations together into a network.

Sometime previous to the war, the coaxial cable was considered the only satisfactory means of transmitting a television signal from city to city.

But, during the last five years—especially during the war —tremendous advances have been made in radio links, and it now looks as if television will have two choices in building networks:

(1) Coaxial cable

(2) Radio links

Using the coaxial cable to link television broadcast stations together is well known. The problem is the cost of the cable itself—and also the expense of installing it.

Since the war our knowledge of microwave radio relays has progressed tremendously, so that these two systems will undoubtedly be competing with each other as to initial cost, maintenance and technical advantages to determine which is the best method of linking television broadcast stations together.

Philco has pioneered in the development of these radio relay links by carrying television signals from Washington,

D. C. to Philadelphia over a series of four intermediate booster stations on April 17, 1945 and our initial experiments were highly satisfactory.

These radio links are so located that there is "line-of-sight" transmission, thus assuring dependable operation in all kinds of weather.

There is no reason why this experimental technique cannot be greatly expanded; so that we look forward in a reasonable length of time to the development of television relay Stations from the Atlantic seaboard to the Pacific Coast, that is, a nationwide television network which permits the same centralized creation of programs in television that we have in radio.

When this is accomplished—can you imagine the advantage to a motor car company in being able to show pictures of—and demonstrate its new models . . . perhaps with a good looking girl at the wheel . . . to thousands and thousands of customers sitting in the living rooms of American homes!

Some of the leading department stores in the East are already tying in with television broadcasting to demonstrate their latest fashions to the ladies. Think what it would mean to a retailer to demonstrate his newest products to the housewife right in her own home!

Think of the educational possibilities when television programs may be thrown on the screen in schools all over America!

If radio has been a vital factor in affecting public opinion ' in this country—and you all have a good idea of how much it has contributed—imagine the increased influence of television when sight is added to sound.


So I can see nothing ahead but a great expansion in the entire field of electronics . . . developments in communications . . . in industrial applications of electronics; and in television which will, I believe, forge ahead rapidly.

It has been predicted that the capital expenditures and the production of durable consumer goods in the communications field alone will exceed $5 billions in the next five years.

This means the creation of great employment . . . new wealth . . . new opportunities . . . and a contribution toa higher national standard of living.

The history of the electronics industry in the past 30 years, marked by the introduction of such great new things as the transcontinental telephone and radio, is only a preview of the tremendous developments just ahead of us.