Thursday, November 6, 2008

Anniversary: Frequency Modulation Radio

On this day in 1935, Edwin Armstrong presented his landmark paper "A Method of Reducing Disturbances in Radio Signaling by a System of Frequency Modulation" before the New York Institute of Radio Engineers. Armstrong developed wide-band frequency modulation (FM) at Columbia University's Philosophy Hall (I've spent some time there). Armstrong's discovery allowed great refinement in radio sound and would revolutionize the industry.

Sadly, Armstrong's inventions were suppressed by corporations and his patents were contested throughout his life. He was denied patent rights to FM radio and was financially and emotionally devastated. He committed suicide by jumping out of the window of his New York apartment in 1954. His widow later resumed and won his patent fight.

(image credit: 1983 U.S. postage stamp featuring Edwin Armstrong,