MILESTONES IN THE LAND-MOBILE RADIO SERVICE
(ORIGINALLY CALLED “THE EMERGENCY SERVICE” BY THE F.C.C.)
J. A. McCormick
General Electric Company
Detroit Police Department installation of an AM transmitter on 144.8 meters (2.07 megacycles) for one-way service to Police Cars after many false starts over the period 1921 to 1927.
First railroad radio communication. General Electric 50-watt units on the New York Central providing three-way communication –locomotive to caboose and to wayside stations. (Full Story - Early RR Radio )
G.E. leased to and operated a 5 KW AM station at South Schenectady for the New York State Police.
General Electric early activity in the fledging Police radio field. One kilowatt AM transmitters supplied to the North Carolina Highway Patrol, the New York Fire Department and many others.
Federal Radio Commission Public Notice 8026 concerning the Police Radio Service. At the time there were only eight frequencies available to the Police Radio Service in the 1500 to 3000 KC range. Frequencies above 30 megacycles were experimental. This release states that two-way communication could not be authorized because of the shortage of frequencies.
Bayonne, New Jersey believed to have the first two-way police radio system. Lieutenant Vincent Doyle applied for two frequencies in the 30 to 40 megacycle band in 1932. These were granted and he established the system using REL AM equipment.
Boston Police Department two-way installation of General Electric AM equipment operating in the 30 to 40 megacycle band. ( Photo )
Major Edwin H. Armstrong, inventor of frequency modulation, presentation of his FM system to the Institute of Radio Engineers in New York. ( Link to the 55 Page paper -PDF )
September , 1936
Proceedings of the Institute of Radio Engineers paper on “A Modern Two-Way Radio System” by Stuart Booken and L. M. Leeds of General Electric Company, Schenectady, New York This paper described AM equipment for operation on the 30 to 40 megacycle band with 15-watt mobile transmitters and 75/150 watt station transmitters. Receiver were of the super heterodyne-super regenerative type.
The FCC allocated 29 40KC channels to the Police Service in the 30 to 40 megacycle band. Frequency tolerance was 0.05% and crystal control of both transmitters and receivers was universally employed.
First utility radio system believed established by the Central Hudson Gas and Electric Company, Poughkeepsie, New York.
April 26, 1938
G.E. application to the FCC for an experimental license for the use of FM on 49 megacycles for tests of the feasibility of FM for the mobile Radio Service. The license was issued on August 3, 1938 and field tests started immediately with equipment previously developed in the laboratory.
August 24-26, 1938
Mobile FM versus AM demonstrations were conducted on 40 megacycles between Schenectady and Albany for the U.S. Navy. Present were Rear Admiral C.E. Courtney and Lieutenant Commander J. B. Dow.
Mobile FM versus AM tests were conducted for technical representatives of many Government agencies and others including the Signal Corps and the C.A.A. Major Armstrong was present and as a part of the series of tests the CAA supplied a WACO biplane for airborne tests. The FCC was represented by Dempsey, General Counsel. Jett, Chief Engineer, Ring, Assistant Chief, Wheeler, Director of Research, and J. M. Bellinger of IRAC. Commander Redman and Major T.C. Reaves were also present. On April 27 and 28, FM/AM airborne tests were run for the Signal Corps and the Air Corps in a C39 from Wright field. Present at that time were Colonel Mitchell, Captain Hayden, Lieutenant Brant and Lieutenant Doubleday.
September 28-29, 1939
G.E. mobile FM/AM tests (at 15KC deviation later to become the industry standard) were run again for the FCC Emergency Service people. These tests proved to the FCC Engineers the feasibility of the intermixed FM/AM on the then existing 40 KC channels. Present were Major E. H. Armstrong, Columbia University, P. Lyon, FCC, Glen Nielsen, FCC, Daniel E. Noble, Assistant Professor, Connecticut State Agricultural College and Radio Communications Consultant for the Connecticut State Police .
Professor Noble started the experimental design of transmitters and receivers for the Connecticut State Police system.
July 18, 1939
First FM radio broadcast station Major Armstrong’s W2XMN at Alpine, New Jersey. ( More )
Sheriff’s Department, Douglas County, Nebraska. A G.E. pioneer FM installation using a 250 watt station and 25 watt mobile units. The installation was described in the March, 1941 issue of FM Magazine published by Milton B. Sleeper.
First state police FM radio system – Connecticut. The Equipment was supplied by the Fred M. Link Company of New York City, who was awarded the contract on low bid. Shortly after this, the consulting engineer on the job, Daniel E. Noble, joined Motorola, Inc.
APCO Bulletin paper by Herbert DuVal of General Electric entitled “Frequency Modulation for Emergency Communications”. This same issue has a full page ad by RCA on the 30 to 40 megacycle AM Headquarters transmitter they were offering at the time. Karr Engineering Company had a small ad on their 8 and 20 watt AM transmitters. This issue contained no Motorola or Link advertisements.
250-watt station and 10 mobile units installed for the Indianapolis Power and Light Company.
Mr. D. Lee Chesnut became Manager of Two-Way Emergency Communication equipment for G.E. Was previously an Apparatus Department man in the Philadelphia office.
Production of FM equipment (fourth M.O.) started G.E.’s Bridgeport works (M.O. – Manufacturing Order). The original first, second, and third M.O. equipment was designed by G.E. Engineers at Schenectady and manufactured by James M. Millen of Malden, Massachusetts. Early G.E. personalities in Emergency Communication were: Conan A. Priest, Harry P. Thomas, William Broughton, Col. Irving R. Weir, Herbert DuVal, Eugene Williamson, Lacy W. Goosetree, Charles F. Meyer, Maurice L Prescott, and George Brown. Design engineers in Bridgeport were: Leonard Vladimir – receivers, Don Pugsley – transmitters, J. A. Worcester – receivers.
Start of the difficult war years. G.E. conversion to war production of Heavy Military Equipment. The Emergency Communication Equipment Section was moved from Bridgeport to Schenectady Works. For the duration of World War II only police and fire departments could obtain the necessary A1A priority to purchase two-way radio equipment. Quartz crystals were in particularly short supply.
With the end of the war in sight, the FCC established the Radio Technical Planning Board (RTPB) under the chairmanship of Dr. W. R. G. Baker, Manager of the Electronics Department of General Electric Company to represent all claimants to use of the radio spectrum from 25 to 890 megacycles. Looking toward to complete re-allocation of that portion of the spectrum directly after the war. Dr. Baker appointed Daniel E. Noble Chairman of Panel 13, which was concerned with all of the Emergency Radio Services.
Jessie Smith, President of Cleveland Yellow Cab, asked General Electric’s help in obtaining FCC frequency allocations for a taxicab radio service. Lee Chesnut arrived in Cleveland to discuss the subject.
June 8-9, 1944
Convention of the National Association of Taxicab Owners. Report to the Cab Research Bureau on the status of the case for taxicab radio.
September 5, 1944
D.E. Noble, Chairman of PTPB Panel 13, was asked to get up a panel for the taxicab radio sub-committee. 30 channels were requested
September 26, 1944
F.C.C. granted special temporary authorization to Cleveland Yellow Cab for taxicab radio tests on 118.05 MC.
October 30, 1944
Taxicab Industry hearings in FCC Docket 6651. One taxicab channel was subsequently granted, followed by three additional channels. After May, 1949, four taxicab channels were made available in the 150 MC band by the FCC. Lee Chesnut was the only Manufacture’s Representative who participated in the Taxicab Industry’s filling. His contribution to the cause of obtaining frequencies was invaluable and is to this day freely recognized by NATO. Mr. Chesnut prepared an article, which describes his early efforts to obtain taxicab channels, entitled, “From Tank to Taxicabs”.
Competitive tests for the Seattle Police Department. General Electric fifth M.O. equipment outranged the major competitors’ units and at 8 amperes standby drain versus 14 amperes for his equipment.
Emergency Communications Equipment operation moved from Schenectady to the Thompson Road Plant, General Electric, Syracuse. Manufacturing was resumed with the sixth M.O. low band equipment.
FM goes to Texas! Surveys conducted for the Gulf States Utilities Company, Houston Power and Lighting Company, San Antonio Transit Company and the Central Power and Light Company of Corpus Christi.
The FCC released specific blocks of frequencies to the various services in the 152-162 megacycle and 72-76 megacycle bands.
FCC released block assignments of frequencies in the 30 to 40 megacycle band.
Industry’s first mobile unit of single unit design, the MC202 combination for operation in the 152-162 megacycle band. ( Photo )
First buildings at G.E. Electronics Park, Syracuse, New York occupied. Mobile Radio offices moved from Thompson Road to Electronics Park.
Frequency congestion starts to rear its ugly head in the Land Mobile Radio Services. The explosive growth of these services following the war causes the FCC to consider ways and means to provide additional channels. General proposed channel splitting in the 25-54 megacycle part of the spectrum in the FCC hearings conducted during December 1947, No support was given by other radio manufactures at that time to the idea of channel splitting.
April 21-22, 1949
Narrow band FM versus wide band FM demonstration to FCC representatives at Electronics Park, Syracuse, New York, using standard production equipment. The FCC representatives were: George E. Sterling, Commissioner; Glen Nielson and L. E. DeFluer.
January 24-26, 1949
National Sales Meeting of G.E. Radio Specialists at Electronics Park. Nat Gada, Sales Manager. New products introduced – first narrow band (20 KC) low band equipment. Eight M.O. two unit design, including MC1N and MC1W. The new model available as either wide band or narrow band. Mechanically identical and interchangeable, with easy convertibility of the wide band to narrow band operation if and when ordered by the FCC. Vibrator powered version of the MC202 – the MC201, 72-76 megacycle equipment. Narrow band conversion kit for older, 40 to 50 MC G.E. equipment. Modulation limiter kits.
July 1, 1949
New FCC frequency allocations effective (30 to 50 megacycle frequencies still on a 40 KC basis). The eight M.O. two unit low band equipment was the first to include receivers with high front-end selectivity to minimize desensitization by strong off-channel signals and generation of intermodulation products.
Dynamic pricing policy established by General Manager, George Metcalf.
April 3-7, 1950
National Sales “Clinic” at Electronics Park. G. L. Chamberlin, Manager of Marketing, L.W. Goosetree, Manager of Sales. G.E.’s first 10-watt single-unit introduced specifically aimed at the taxicab radio service, the MC203.
New 250-watt low-band station equipment available for either narrow band or wide band operation, or easy conversion in the field. The 250-watt was housed in a large double door cabinet. ( Like this Hi-Band one )
February 26-March 2, 1951
National Sales Meeting at Electronics Park. New Products include first electronic tone equipment, the Type 9 using bridge T networks as the frequency determining element . Several new single unit high band equipments including MC205 23-watt set, the MC204 50-watt set, MC203 LP for the 3-watt services. EC10B remote control unit, the Civil Defender Receiver, and the first use of four coil transformers in the two-unit low band receivers for even greater adjacent channel selectivity. First introduction of the weatherproof pole-mounted type base stations. 3KW transmitters for Police Service.
National Civil Defense meeting held at Electronics Park. First showing of film prepared by General Electric as a public service to demonstrate the importance of radio communication in Civil Defense Emergencies, “And the Voice Shall be Heard!”. Neal Harmon was the coordinator for G.E. in the preparation of this film.
Competitive tests for the State of Michigan at Roscommon. G.E. two-unit low band equipment was demonstrated to meet the State’s specifications and outperformed Motorola equipment in a field demonstration. The Motorola receiver was broken up by intermodulation products – the G.E. receiver was untouched.
G.E. Kent Street Plant, Utica diverted exclusively to the production of Land Mobile Equipment.
Petroleum Industry tests of narrow band versus wide band and low band equipment at Houston. A G.E. first was the use of quartz crystals as a front-end filter for the elimination of any specific interfering frequency.
Split-channel test conducted for the joint technical advisory committee (J TAC).
The goat sales contest in which the low Regional Manager each month was given custody of one live very ornery Spanish goat for the succeeding month. Inasmuch as no one was below 100% toward the end of the year, the goat finally wound up in Electronics Park in the custody of Dr. W. R. G. Baker.
Engineering reorganized and strengthened. R.P. Gifford, Manager of Systems Engineering; R.F. Hansen, Manager of Standard Mobile Product Design; A.G. Manke, in charge of Receiver Design. Noteworthy new product, the MC 261, 8-channel, High-band Marine equipment.
Advent of automobiles with 12-volt electrical systems, thus giving rise to the need for 6/12 volt operated mobile radio equipment. 6/12 volt conversion kits for early G.E. equipment introduced in August, 1953.
The Communications equipment operation established as a separate business in General Electric.
Link Company bankruptcy (the number 2 supplier up to this time).
Engineering paper by R.P. Gifford “The Knee of the Nose”.
Some new product introductions: Marine Equipment MC-262, WB 271 and 272. The MC203LP and SC231LP high band equipment for the Low Power Industrial Service. The SC31 and SC41 low and high band stations equipments. The MC2 N & W 6/12 Volt mobile equipment for low band operation. ST-13-A frequency and modulation meter; 4-coil high band receiver.
November 1, 1953
Marketing expansion and reorganization. L. W. Goosetree, Manager of Marketing; L. R. Sheeley, Manager of Sales; R.L. Casselberry, Manager of Product Planning; H. N. McNeil, Manager of Product Service; George Floyd, Manager of Advertising and Sales Promotion.
Acres of Diamonds Sales Contest.
April 11-15, 1954
National Sales meeting at Lost Valley Ranch, Bandera, Texas – “The New Approach”.
Introduction of 6/12 volt mobile equipment for all frequency bands. Low Band MC1, 2, 3, 4, wide or narrow band operation. High Band MC206, 25 watt, MC204, 50-watt, MC208, low power industrial equipment for both frequency bands, both low and high.
First lifetime guarantee on Quartz crystals. Similar lifetime guarantee on receiver selectivity determining elements.
Introduction of the new floor-mounting cabinets for station equipment, 69 inch and 83 inch heights respectively.
FCC establishes the final rules for the 450 megacycle band and G.E. introduced its first equipment for this band, the MC306, and complimentary station equipment.
Carbon microphones eliminated as the standard approach in Land Mobile Radio. G.E. was first to standardize on controlled reluctance “high fidelity” microphones.
First radio control of traffic lights, City of Chicago.
An experimental radio fire alarm demonstration given at a fire school in Old Forge, New York (not licensable by the FCC at this time).
June 16-17, 1954
Product Review meeting held for top management of General Electric Company from New York City at the auditorium in Electronics Park. Harrison Van Aken was manager of the Communications Products Department starting about this time. R.P Gifford became Manager of Engineering.
The crusade series of sales meeting to introduce the Progress Line – Industry’s first mechanically and electrically standardized line of Land Mobile Equipment for all frequency bands with mobile and station transmitter and receiver chassis quickly interchangeable. No need for a base station to be off the air.
Other Progress Line firsts. First to offer up to four-frequency operation on a standard basis. First to offer simultaneous monitoring in a two-frequency receiver or a receiver with a second front end.
First 100 Watt Mobile Unit.
Other new products in 1955 – the RC4 (EC-28-A) remote control unit, quadriphase 2 KMC microwave equipment. The EC-30-A station tone dispatcher. Station Control panels, the KC4B, KC7B, the KC10A.
Cruise of the yacht, Cappy, on the Great Lakes to survey coverage furnished by Lorain County Radio Corp, 250 Watt station, at Lorain, Ohio.
General Electric awarded the U.S. Air Force Contract to supply communication equipment on a lease basis to Air Force establishments throughout the Untied States and abroad. The contract has been renewed yearly and is still in effect as of the time of this writing, September, 1966.
June 18-22, 1956
X marks the spot – National Sales Meeting at Miami Beach. New products included the introduction of Channel Guard, Tone coded Squelch, 450 megacycle Progress Line equipment, “Personal Channel” Pulse Tone equipment, the EC31A Extended Local Control and Desk Mate Station Cabinet made its first appearance.
Progress Line equipment was adapted for installation in Servicar three-wheel motorcycles.
Competitive tests for the City of Springfield, Massachusetts.
Gainesville, Florida under consideration as the new CPD site plant, but finally, ruled out.
First appearance of transistors in LM equipment. G.E. introduced the EPP-8A transistorized power supply for receiver application at the APCO Convention at Daytona Beach, Florida.
A very significant new product introduction this year, the Progress Line, 250-Watt, 450 megacycle base station.
Other product introductions, a 15-watt transistorized loud speaker, the slim jim pole-mount cabinet, and equipment for the direct dispatch service of the Telephone Company.
More transistorization. All Progress Line Mobile equipment now offered with transistor power supplies – Dynamotors and vibrator supplies still available, however.
Communication Products Department expansion of Marketing organization. Three new regions and 23 districts added for a total of 9 regions and 59 districts.
Industry’s finest high-power base stations introduced – 330-watt Low Band and High Band power amplifiers with Progress Line Exciters and Receivers.
R. P. Gifford, Manager of C.P.D. Engineering (Telecom, Land Mobile and Carrier Current).
G.E. introduced the Industry’s first fully transistorized receiver – the Progress Line Portable – made possible by G.E. tetrode transistors (At the APCO Convention in Baltimore in Aug this year, Motorola introduced Motrac).
August 1, 1958
All newly licensed transmitters operating under Parts 10, 11 and 16 of the FCC Rules must now meet Narrow Band technical standards. All transmitters must meet the new standards by November 1, 1963.
The FCC establishes the Business Radio Service.
December 1, 1958
C.P.D. moved from Syracuse, Utica, and Auburn, New York to new plant at Lynchburg, Virginia, built in 1956 by G.E.’s Rectifier Department and recently vacated by them.
March 31, 1959
Electronics Industries Association (EIA) filing in FCC Docket 11997 reviewing the 25 to 890 MC frequency allocations. The film “A Million Invisible Messengers” was prepared and made available nationally. The FCC failed to act on Docket 11997 and subsequently, organized the Land Mobile Advisory Committee on or about May 26, 1964.
The Keystone series of sales meetings to introduce Mobile unit with transistorized exciter, as well as a fully transistorized receiver – the High Band transistorized Progress Line equipment (Motrac employed tubes throughout the transmitter. TPL used tubes only in the driver and final stage.)
TPL was publicly introduced first at the Forestry Conservation Communication Association meeting at Hot Springs, Arkansas in July 1959.
TPL was the first mobile equipment to meet 0.0005% frequency stability without the use of crystal ovens.
Voice Director pocket receiver introduced.
Series of Ford Tractor meetings to acquaint Ford distributors with the benefits of two-way radio as a business tool.
February, 16-17, 1960
Field tests of 15 KC (tertiary channel) operation in High Band using the G.E. Gocrete installation at Dallas, Texas, believed to be the first tertiary channel installation made.
30 and 100-watt Low Band transistorized Progress Line equipment introduced first at the NCUR (National Committee Utilities Radio) National Convention at Denver, Colorado.
Introduction of Pacer line of economy low band and High band mobile equipment.
Industry’s first solid-state transmitter. The Voice Commander hand-held (as contrasted to hand-carried) Portable. This was a one-watt transmitter with tubes in the final amplifier originally, but made fully solid state in September 1962.
Voice Mate hand-carried 100-milliwatt high band transmitter introduced.
Titan II intercomplex radio communications system, a hard voice and digital radio communications system for the Air Force System’s Command to be used in the normal command, operational maintenance, security, and administrative operations of the Titan II squadron.
Blast-off “62 National Sales Meeting – first event at the new auditorium of the Lynchburg plant. Product introductions included ruggedized TPL, the Pacer Desk Station, Ignition Noise Blankers.
The Message Mate Economy Pocket Receiver.
Harrison Van Aken relinquished General Manager ship of the Communication Products Department and took a similar position with General Electric’s Computer Department at Phoenix, Arizona. Richard P. Gifford replaced Mr. Van Aken.
Robert L. Casselberry returned to the Communications Products Department as Manager of Planning.
Accent 450 mobile equipment.
Type 99, two-tone selective call system for universal application to any Land Mobile Radio. Also, the station encoder 100-400-900.
November 1, 1963
Termination of wide-band operation in the FCC Services, Low Band 72-76 and High Band.
Solid-state dial paging terminal providing interconnection between the telephone system and pocket paging receivers.
Industry’s first solid-state transmitter in the 10-watt category. G.E.’s Porta-Mobil unit, capable of 6 to 8 watts output in High Band or 12 to 15 watts output in Low Band.
May 26, 1964
The first organizational meeting of the Advisory Committee on Land Mobile Services at Washington.
June 1-3, 1964
National Sales Meeting at Ponte Verda, Florida for the introduction of MASTR – mobiles and stations transistorized. A complete line of mobile and station for all four frequency bands, all popular transmitter powers; with light transmitter, receiver and power supply units completely and quickly interchangeable; and with all popular options including four-frequency operation, tone-coded squelch, and noise blankers for the low and high frequency bands. Noise blankers for the highband equipment is a real G.E. first in the Industry. Other firsts in the MASTR line:
First transistorized stations.
First built-in voltage regulation.
First use of silicon transistors in Land Mobile equipment.
First thermistor compensated oscillators completely eliminating crystal warmers and ovens.
First major manufacturer use of a Quartz crystal filter in the high IF amplifier of the receiver to provide adjacent channel selectivity at the front of the set.
Yes, even a Pilot Light Dimmer as a standard option.
The Type 99 two-tone selective calling system for universal application was also introduced at this Convention of G.E. Salesmen.
Fully transistorized high-power power call siren public address amplifier for mobile service.
The first high-power 450 megacycle mobile unit, the MASTR 60-watt unit.
March 31, 1965
EIA filing in Docket No. 15398, looking toward the feasibility of sharing TV channels with Land Mobile Service.
MASTR six-tone Encoder permits mobile unit to transmit any one of six low-frequency tones, primarily used for the selection of specific Land Mobile Relay stations in a multi-station system such as those used by Forestry Conservation organizations.
Industry’s first solid-state motorcycle unit.
The Porta-Mobil Industrial package.
Improved Mobile Telephone Service (IMTS) MASTR unit meeting Bell requirements for 11 channel capability.
The Type 90 Tone Encoder and Decoder single pulse tone equipment for the selection of mobile relay stations and other similar applications.
November 22, 1965
Kent J. Worthen resigns as Manager of Sales and transferred to Electronics Sales Operation of general Electric at Syracuse, New York. He was replaced by Keith Elrod.
Introduction of the MASTR Executive Series equipment for High and Low Band application at a National Sales meeting held in Hollywood, Florida.
Life of the Land Mobile Advisory Committee extended for at least a year by FCC to consolidate information already put together by the many committees and to consider channel splitting in 450 megacycle band from 50 KC to 25 KC channels.
June 20-24, 1966
450 megacycle split-channel field tests conducted in New Orleans by working group B-8 of LMAC. Their conclusions were optimistic and it is probable that the channels will be split by year end.
The National APCO Convention at Seattle, Washington. Industry’s first digital remote control unit announced, capable of performing 12 control functions over any circuit capable of carrying the voice band of frequencies with or without DC continuity.
September 16, 1966