Here’s what this space is all about.
Over the last few…decades, really…I’ve been interested in finding some of the earliest foundational works in radio and electronics. The real history of “electrical science” goes back well into the early 18th century but what interests me most is the history of radio.
I’ve kept searching for texts that deal with technologies that have long since faded into what I have called “The Dim Technological Pleistocene” — a place in time so remote that we can only see the skeletal outlines of the dinosaurs of radio. It’s a little bit like finding someone old enough to know how to start a Model T Ford. We may not need to know how to crank up a Honda Civic without breaking an arm, but I believe the knowledge is nonetheless valid.
I also believe that this “antique knowledge” has at least two uses in our modern world:
1. Going back to original sources gives us a fuller picture of the context of the technology. In understanding it, we also come to understand how the technology and the ways it was used contained the seeds of our present technologies and how we use them.
2. What we sometimes forget is that just because there may be some “better” way to solve a technology problem, that does not mean that older “less better” solutions are obsolete. I put “better” in quotes because there are so many dimensions to how we define “better.” I believe we need to remind ourselves about the older solutions. Understanding them helps us think creatively about new problems, and who knows? — we may find that some solution from the past is the perfect answer for a modern problem.
3. My third reason is that what a technology can do imposes a set of “rules” on how it is used. Those “rules” feed into how the technology is perceived as a tool to be used in a culture or society. Radical technologies change societies in radical ways. Going back to the time when those changes were just beginning helps us to understand the society or culture within which that technology had its birth. Once again, we can “go back to look ahead” and view the development of our present society from a new perspective.
So, what will you find here? My primary goal is to have a place online where I can host electronic copies of some of the old radio books I have. Secondarily, I will post links to useful articles, databases, book titles and other holdings that relate to the topic.
I’ll be honest that although I have been trained as a librarian, this is very much a labour of love for me. My love is relatively specific, and therefore the collection on this site, as it grows, may seem idiosyncratic to you. Such is life. If you find something of interest here, please link to it from other pages. If you have items of your own, please let me know. Links are always appreciated.
A further note: I am indebted to several other people who have asked not to be named for the loans of some rare books. These wonderful people have allowed me to handle their books and to scan them electronically for your use. So far as I am aware, none of these books is still protected by copyright. Feel free to download them and read them at your leisure. One of my reasons for doing this is to get this information into as many hands as possible. I only ask that if you download it with intent to pass it on, that you do so at no charge, as I am doing.
Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments you may have. Thanks!
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