Edwin Howard Armstrong (Engineering, 1913, Hon ScD 1929) invented FM radio in 1933, and spent the latter part of his life battling corporate and regulatory efforts against the new technology. An established inventor, Armstrong designed wide-band FM radio as an alternative to the industry-standard AM radio, which was plagued by static as a result of interference from electrical machinery and weather. In 1935, he proved the efficacy of FM at a conference of radio engineers. But his application for an experimental FM license was rejected by the FCC, as a result of lobbying efforts by the broadcast industry. In 1937, he erected a 425-foot broadcast tower in Alpine, New Jersey, and in 1939, after threatening to take his experiments overseas, he obtained a license and his experimental FM radio station began broadcasting. This tower remains in operation today, and was used by major networks after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks destroyed transmitters at the World Trade Center.
Question of the Week archive
This remarkable Columbian, the father of FM radio, invented three of the electronic circuits fundamental to modern radio, television, and radar.
This seminar chronicles the life of Edwin Armstrong, the little-known but extraordinary inventor who patented the technology behind FM radio.
Armstrong championed inventions that made modern radio possible, says Columbia's Yannis Tsividis in Living Legacies.