Gernsback came from Luxembourg to New York in the early 20th century, and went right to work building wireless equipment in downtown Manhattan. He called the company, Electro Importing Company, and then he got into publishing, and these are all different magazines that Hugo published in his time.
Fred – “Radio was so new and popular then, these were all popular magazines about it?”
Yes, well, electronic, modern stuff, you know…scary type stuff…and Hugo retailed equipment from Electro Importing…these are all catalogs of the Electro Importing Company sold by Hugo Gernsback.
Fred – “What are the medals here?”
Oh, he formed different clubs…before the American Amateur Radio League was formed, Hugo tried to form an amateur radio club. And he formed these clubs and these are the pins that people would wear when they were members of the so-called clubs.
Fred – “Was he respected by the scientists?”
Not really, no. He was strictly a popular guy, but he was immensely talented…and as a personal matter that probably doesn’t belong on here, when I was a teenager or even earlier, my father had a good friend who subscribed to Short Wave Craft, and he had a stack of them and he didn’t know what to do with them. So, he mentioned them to my father, and my father said Robert would probably enjoy those. And I still have that stack, and I’ve read every lousy written word in them. The English was terrible, so I had trouble when I got to Harvard, with my English composition. But I still…I don’t actually worship Hugo, but I certainly admire him.
Fred – “Well, that’s how kids get interested in something, right?”
Oh, absolutely. He was a very positive influence.
Text from the transcript of a tour of New England Wireless & Steam Museum’s Wireless Building given by Robert W. Merriam on a winter day in 2012. Transcription by Craig H. Moody, K1CHM. Edited by Fred Jaggi.