Jan 1, 1918 - Jan 1, 1980

Music from the ether: the pioneers of radio broadcasting

Museum for Communication Berlin, Museum Foundation Post and Telecommunication

Broadcasting provides timely access to information, even in remote areas. Nevertheless, the path to the invention of the electron tube and Hans Bredow's vision of broadcasting for all, leading to today's radio with overwhelmingly free access to a vast number of stations, was long and plagued by politics.

10 kW long-wave radio transmitter from Königswusterhausen, Telefunken Gesellschaft für drahtlose Telegraphie m.b.H., 1925, From the collection of: Museum for Communication Berlin, Museum Foundation Post and Telecommunication
On transmission
In an experimental lecture in Urania in 1919, Hans Bredow proposed a new medium based on wireless telephony and radio technology. He called it "broadcasting." As the development of tube transmitters progressed, this medium became a reality.
1.5 kW radio transmitter transmission table from the Stuttgart-Feuerbach Army Provisions Office, Telefunken Gesellschaft für drahtlose Telegraphie m.b.H (1923 - 1955), 1924, From the collection of: Museum for Communication Berlin, Museum Foundation Post and Telecommunication

Since the German Reich had jurisdiction over the radio, the German Reichspost operated the technical facilities of the broadcasting network.

The organization of the programming was decentralized under the Reich Broadcasting Corporation, which was also founded by the Reichspost in 1925.

10 kW long-wave radio transmitter from Königswusterhausen, Telefunken Gesellschaft für drahtlose Telegraphie m.b.H., 1925, From the collection of: Museum for Communication Berlin, Museum Foundation Post and Telecommunication

The first German radio station was commissioned in 1920 on the Funkerberg near Königs Wusterhausen. An extensive collection of German Army transmitters have existed here since 1911. Press broadcasts were sent at first, followed by business broadcasts from 1922 and entertainment broadcasts from 1923.

German radio stations in 1928, graphic, Reichs-Rundfunk-Gesellschaft RRG (1925 - 1945 [liquidiert 1961]), 1928, From the collection of: Museum for Communication Berlin, Museum Foundation Post and Telecommunication

The Königs Wusterhausen station did not deliver enough broadcasts for the entire Reich. The Reichspost built a decentralized transmitter network, starting with the Berlin transmitter in October 1923. Munich followed a few months later, and in 1924, 7 more stations were opened.

100 kW medium-wave transmitter of Bavarian Broadcasting, C. Lorenz AG (1906 - 1958), 1938, From the collection of: Museum for Communication Berlin, Museum Foundation Post and Telecommunication

Even after the end of the Second World War, broadcasting was used for propaganda purposes. After the Voice of America broadcast began in 1948 from the transmitter in Ismaning, a 20 kW MW transmitter was commissioned in Hof in 1948. Clearly, the RIAS would be transmitting to the Soviet occupation zone as well.

3 KW jamming transmitter for RIAS (radio in the American sector), VEB Funkwerk Leipzig (1948 - 1964), 1953, From the collection of: Museum for Communication Berlin, Museum Foundation Post and Telecommunication

When the Western powers no longer had any airtime on the Berlin radio, American sector broadcasting took their place. The innovative programming of the RIAS with a predominantly Western viewpoint quickly became the enemy of the GDR establishment, which systematically disrupted reception.

Telefunken RS 1828 transmitter diode, Allgemeine Elektricitäts-Gesellschaft AEG-TELEFUNKEN (1967 - 1972), c. 1970, From the collection of: Museum for Communication Berlin, Museum Foundation Post and Telecommunication
Type E 476 SII press radio receiver for receiving "express service" and "DRADAG" news reports, Telefunken Gesellschaft für drahtlose Telegraphie m.b.H., 1927, From the collection of: Museum for Communication Berlin, Museum Foundation Post and Telecommunication
On reception
Starting in April 1920, a broadcasting service with news, sports, weather, and time signal reports was set up in some German cities. To prevent abuse, a Reichspost official roughly tuned the receiver's wavelength and permanently set it. Listeners could only control the fine-tuning.
Radion 3 radio receiver, Cronacustic Schalldosen und Sprechmaschinen AG, 1924, From the collection of: Museum for Communication Berlin, Museum Foundation Post and Telecommunication

In the 1920s, a sense of sobriety prevailed in the German product design market. The Radion 3, however, is a radio receiver with an extraordinary design and the only known radio receiver made by Cronacustic Schalldosen- und Sprechmaschinen AG.

OE333 radio receiver with 3 triode valves (3NF), D. S. Loewe AG (1926 - 1930), 1926 /1927, From the collection of: Museum for Communication Berlin, Museum Foundation Post and Telecommunication

Broadcasting in Germany all started when the first entertainment program was transmitted on October 29, 1923. News reports and business, weather, stock market, educational and lecture programs ran during the day. Music played after 7:00 p.m. Until 1926, tube radios were used instead of detector receivers.

VE301w radio receiver, G. Schaub Apparatebau GmbH (1925 - 1954), 1933 - 1938, From the collection of: Museum for Communication Berlin, Museum Foundation Post and Telecommunication

The National Socialist party used mass media for their own gain and forced broadcasting in the German Reich into line. It became the most important propaganda tool for Hitler's rule. The number of listeners increased from 4 million at the start of 1932 to over 12 million by the middle of 1939.

Archive document, radio license No. 16, 15.07.1938, From the collection of: Museum for Communication Berlin, Museum Foundation Post and Telecommunication
Detector receiver in a nutshell, unbekannter Hersteller, 1920 - 1950, From the collection of: Museum for Communication Berlin, Museum Foundation Post and Telecommunication
The listeners themselves
In the 1920s, radio tinkering was a popular hobby. A lot of tinkerers gained experience as radio operators in the First World War. In the shortage economy following the Second World War, they also needed to be creative, making receivers out of any available material.
Wireless radio receiver in the housing of a field telephone, Eigenbau, 1945 - 1950, From the collection of: Museum for Communication Berlin, Museum Foundation Post and Telecommunication

Citizens would build their own receiving devices from the housing of a field telephone, a selenium rectifier, and 2 tubes from radio devices to be able to receive the wired radio signals. The configuration suggests a radio amateur.

Regency TR1 transistor radio, Industrial Development Engineering Associates (IDEA); Texas Instruments Co. (gegr. 1951), 1954 - 1956, From the collection of: Museum for Communication Berlin, Museum Foundation Post and Telecommunication
In the bag
Seven years after the invention of the transistor in 1947, the transistor radio helped it break through into consumer electronics. It is much smaller and lighter than the commonly used portable radio, but doesn't achieve the same sound quality. It still became a bestseller.
Sternchen 57/69 TT radio receiver, VEB Stern-Radio Sonneberg (RFT), 1959, From the collection of: Museum for Communication Berlin, Museum Foundation Post and Telecommunication
Credits: Story

Musik aus dem Äther. Die Pioniere des Rundfunks

Eine virtuelle Ausstellung der Museumsstiftung Post und Telekommunikation.

Kuratorin: Dr. Tina Kubot

Alle Objekte aus dem Bestand der Museumsstiftung Post und Telekommunikation.

www.museumsstiftung.de

Quellen:

Bredow, Hans: Im Banne der Ätherwellen, Stuttgart, 1956.

Rein, Hans; Wirtz, Karl: Radiotelegraphisches Praktikum, Berlin, 1922.

Nesper, Eugen: Ein Leben für den Funk, München, 1950

Glaser, Hermann; Koch, Hans Jürgen: Ganz Ohr. Eine Kulturgeschichte des Radios in Deutschland, Köln, 2005

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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