FM Pioneer's Lab Is Landmark


FM pioneer Edwin H. Armstrong will be honored Tuesday, when his Columbia University lab will be designated a National Historic Landmark by the Department of the Interior. The lab is on the university's New York campus in what is now the philosophy building.

Everything from static-free radio, to TV transmission, to multicasting, to two-way emergency communications can be traced, in part, to Armstrong's inventions.

In addition to Columbia and Interior officials, on hand for the evening ceremony in New York will be Armstrong's niece, Jeanne Hammond, who has worked for several years to have the lab preserved, according to Adam Brecht, Armstrong's great, great nephew, who will also be on hand.

Armstrong, a quiet Columbia professor and prolific inventor, revolutionized transmission, first radio and later television, with a regenerative circuit that made long-range wireless communications feasible, then later with the invention of a wideband frequency modulation system (FM) that dramatically reduced static and increased fidelity. It also made it possible to transmit more than one channel.

Today's emergency communications systems are in his debt as well, thanks to his invention of the circuit that made practical the first two-way, short-wave communication between police and fire emergency crews.