RAN Technology

Alexancer Lewyt - inventor and entrepreneur


Historic 0 Comments 01/08/2021 

and maker of my AN/GRC-9

Posted By: Robert Nickels (ranickels)

Alexander M. Lewyt died in 1988 at the age of 79, a holder of patents on scores of inventions. His penchant for invention, he once said, was so strong that he had chronic insomnia from lying awake at night envisioning new products. When he learned of undertakers’ difficulty in fastening neckties on corpses, the teen-age Lewyt devised a new kind of bow tie that clipped on. He sold 50,000 of them. But he probably was best known for the compact Lewyt vacuum cleaner, which had no dust bag and was designed not to interfere with TV or radio reception. In the first eight years after the vacuum cleaner was introduced after World War II, Lewyt Corp. sold 2 million of them. During the war, Lewyt Corp. did a multimillion-dollar business making such things as radar antennas and popcorn poppers. Lewyt sold his interest in the company to Budd Co. in the 1950s.

I was curious about the oddly named Lewyt nameplate on my AN/GRC-9 because unlike well-known radio manufacturers such as Crosley, Tele King, and Hoffman Radio that built this set in the 1950s,  I'd never heard of Lewyt before.    While it's well known that many companies stepped out of their traditional businesses to build what was needed for the war effort, I was surprised to learn that my GRC-9 was built by a vacuum cleaner company!

But that's not quite true, since Alexander Lewyt's ideas included a range of electronics as well. The son of an Austrian immigrant who had a shop making coat hangers, he took over the business and expanded it to add products and space - including leasing 4 floors at 84 Broadway in Brooklyn in 1953, a stately building that still stands, although it boggles the mind to think of field radios being made there.

An interesting selling point of the Lewyt vacuum cleaner in addition to not requiring a disposable bag, was the "Video-Pak" which was evidently an AC line filter that "prevented Radio-TV interference".   Who remembers pleading with Mom not to run the vacuum while  cartoons or your favorite show was on?

Lewyt did well.  In the late 1950s, Alexander Lewyt was instrumental in establishing the North Shore Animal League, which became the world’s largest no-kill animal rescue and adoption organization. A director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Lewyt had an art collection that included works by Bonnard, Cezanne, Degas, Gauguin, and Renoir.   He and his wife, French-born Elisabeth "Babette" formed a charitable foundation which is still active today, following her death in 2012.   Mr. Lewyt said he channeled his considerable energies into the North Shore Animal League because “my wife adores animals, and I adore my wife.”

I don't know about the vacuums but Mr. Lewyt built a good radio.   This 40 sec. clip is proof - one of the few authentic examples of a military radio in actual use in VietNam in 1964:    WATCH

Do it with Lewyt!

Click on the image title or on the image itself to open the full-sized image in a separate window.

   Lakeshore Industries of Manitowoc WI was an early follower of Wes Schum and Central Electronics to supply single sideband transmitters to early adopters of the new mode in the mid-1950s.   Both companies used the phasing method developed by Don Norgaard at General Electric and made popular through articles in QST, CQ, and GE Ham News.  Like most companies, Lakeshore sought to c...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  02/26/2021 
  

International Crystal and the crystal synthesizer

How a crystal company reduced the number of crystals needed
Category: Vintage Radio
I have always been intrigued by the International Crystal CB radios which had a unique appearance with a channel selector that resembled a telephone dial.    The high end "Executive" models were big and expensive and sported an aluminum trim ring that no other radio had.    So I had to buy one to play with.     It was cheap, like $25 and ...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  02/19/2021 
  

KBCX - US Forest Service Regional Radio

from Missoula Montana to the northwest
Category: Historic
Hams, especially those who enjoy operating AM and QRP should be aware of the pioneering efforts of the US Forest Service to adopt and advance the radio art in the early decades of the 20th century.The history of radio in the USFS literally takes a book to cover, but an interesting example can be found in station KBCX, the Region 1 Radio Operations Center in Missoula Montana.    It w...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  02/11/2021 
   Working on various vintages of equipment gives one a better appreciation for what we have today.    Example - this is a frequency counter from the "HF Manual Receiver" which was part of a wideband surveillance receiving system that extended from VLF to microwave frequencies using a bank of front-ends to cover the range.    It was designed as "ESM":...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  02/09/2021 
  

The John Meck T-60 Transmitter

the only ham product from this famous radio/TV manufacturer
Category: Vintage Ham Radio
Plymouth Indiana might not be famous for too many things, but John Meck Industries was the first manufacturer to start producing radios for home us in the US after World War II.   He'd started the namesake company prior to the war but like most others in the radio business it was converted to wartime production, making quartz crystals among other things.   Later, thousands ...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  01/30/2021 
   If, like me, you enjoy flipping through old issues of 73 magazine from the 60s, you're bound to have at least seen the ads for the Transcom SBT-3 three-band SSB tranceiver.  Being made in Escondido CA in the mid-60s, my guess has always been that engineers from other San Diego SSB compnanies such as Don Stoner, Les Earnshaw from Southcom, Herb Johnson, founder of Swan or Faust Gonsett may...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  01/16/2021 
  

Model FP-1 "FORESTPHONE"

The Amalgamated Wireless Ltd. (AustralAsia)
Category: Vintage Ham Radio
This short article about the AWA Forestphone was the last one put on the Midwest Classic Radio Net website by for former webmaster George K9GDT before he unfortunately became a Silent Key.  MCRN articleNow that a longer version has been published in Electric Radio magazine I thought I'd include it here as well.Throughout most of the 20th century AWA was Australia's leading electr...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  01/13/2021 
  

AN/GRC-9 Bias Battery replacement

Cheap and easy fix using coin cells
Category: Technical
The Korean-war vintage AN/GRC-9 is one of the most useful and fun military field radios for ham use, as with AM and CW modes and 2-12 MHz coverage and a VFO it's all ready to go on several ham bands.    The battery tube superhet receiver is also power-friendly and sensitive and stable enough to copy CW and SSB but has one annoying flaw - the 4 volt bias battery used by the audio...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  01/03/2021 
  

Beware of the LED Noisemaker!

MR-16 lamps have no home in the hamshack!
Category: Technical
Halogen type MR-16 lamps are commonly used in track lights and other spot lighting applications so what would be cooler than to drop in LED replacements!   A lot, as it turns out.   The LED replacements are HORRIBLE RFI emitters that totally trashed several ham bands when I unknowingly installed them.Halogen spot lights are 12 volt devices so it's long been common prac...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  01/02/2021 

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