The Story of the Electron Tube

by Kevin Strom, WB4AIO

HERE IS A WELL-DONE film created by Western Electric in 1948 which gives a brief history of the vacuum tube from AT&T’s perspective. The short part near the end about the War to Save the Soviet, during which all this technology was used to blast Western Civilization to bits and enslave its people, was a bit depressing — but the revolutionary genius of DeForest and the men who stood on his shoulders is quite inspiring, as are the pictures of America back before the Third World invasion. This is the world I was born into.

I wonder if, had our civilization not been derailed by the fall of the Classical world and the subsequent Dark Ages, we would have had electronic amplifiers and sophisticated radio communications in 948 instead of 1948. After all, we knew the Earth was a sphere, and its diameter, in 500 BC, and we had steam engines in 50 AD — though this knowledge was subsequently lost when the crazies took over.

Spy Numbers Station Mystery Solved

by Kevin Strom, WB4AIO

AN ELECTRONICS collector in Germany has created a series of videos showing us the actual hardware used in the at once ubiquitous and mysterious “spy numbers” stations emanating on shortwave from Cuba (even today) and from Eastern Bloc nations (during the Cold War).

Apparently the technology used by the ’80s consisted of digital voice samples on EEPROMs, and paper tape (of the same kind used in my high school computer lab circa 1972) for the actual encoded messages.

Back in 1989, some jokester put on a faux “spy numbers” station on 7425 kHz (and a few other frequencies) that sent messages read by an accented female announcer consisting of Mexican food items instead of Spanish numbers — “Attencion — taco… burrito… tamale… tamale… nacho… — final… final…” Hilarious.

Here are the six videos followed by the original author’s commentary:

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Liberty Net: June 12, 2010

by Kevin Strom, WB4AIO

W1WCR’s new antenna — a 165-foot doublet held up by 100-foot pine trees — provided even more intense signals than usual for this week’s session of the Liberty Net.

Conversations on the historic current events discussion net ranged from the hidden aspects of politics to spy numbers stations to shortwave radio propagation and the mysteries of women.

Listen to or download this week's Liberty Net recorded June 12

Here is a small sampling of what you’ll hear on this week’s recording:

• New York City schools have come up with an innovative way to close the “racial achievement gap” — they simply give partial credit for wrong answers. (2 hours 44 minutes)

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