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Wireless World Golden Jubilee review of 1940-44

Wireless World, April, 1961.
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Among the immediate results of the outbreak of war in September 1939 was the closing down of the television service and of amateur transmission; car radio was banned later. BBC headquarters 'moved into the country' and a single-programme service was transmitted from synchronised stations to avoid giving direction-finding help to the enemy.

One of the popular 'semi-communications' receivers of the early days of the war: the Pye 'International' with band-spreading on six short-wave ranges

There was a short-lived boom in receivers, especially in the recently-introduced 'semi-communications' models, which offered an exceptionally good performance on short waves. This was mainly wanted for the reception of news bulletins from overseas, and especially from neutral sources. Information on short-wave receiving conditions was also wanted; for some time we published ionosphere forecasts provided by Cable and Wireless, but these were eventually stopped by the censor. However, no objection was raised against 'do-it-yourself' forecasting and general articles on propagation by T W Bennington were continued.

So far as Wireless World was concerned, the war brought an abrupt change from weekly to monthly publication and, with a depleted staff, we did our best .to meet the changing needs of readers, especially in producing instructional articles on new subjects: Morse telegraphy was now important. And a rather unexpected demand arose for the treatment of topics bearing no relation to the grim realities of the times-for maintaining the journal, as a correspondent put it, as 'one of the few remaining links with normality'. Escapism also manifested itself in lively discussions by contributors and correspondents of the changes in radio and electronics they hoped to see in the brave new post-war world. The phrase 'after the war' recurred constantly.

Maintenance of interest in high-quality sound reproduction was probably another manifestation of escapism. In this sphere an important war-time article was 'The Acoustics of Small Rooms', by J Moir. The kind of acoustics discussed by Moir had hitherto been studied mainly in relation to halls and large rooms.

In spite of restrictions, readers were kept fairly well-informed on the underlying reasons why valves were working better and better on ever higher frequencies by a series of articles by Dr Martin Johnson.

Though censorship was quite different from that prevailing in World War I, it did in fact bear quite heavily on the contents of the journal, as most of the developments now emerging were being applied to purposes of war. Radar and everything connected with it, especially pulse techniques, were completely banned. The authorities had taken us into their confidence about radar before the outbreak of war, so we knew what to avoid. There was a transient lifting of the veil of radar secrecy in 1941, mainly as an aid to the recruitment of civilian technicians, especially from America, but we were allowed to print only a few dozen words of basic description. One of the few electronics developments which could be treated at length was radio-frequency heating.

Sir Oliver Lodge, the pioneer of 'syntony' (tuning), died in August 1940, aged 89

The fusion of the Institute of Wireless Technology with the British Institute of Radio Engineers and the deaths of Sir Oliver Lodge, of the German pioneer von Arco, and of Nipkow, the originator of television scanning, were reported.

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