FATHER OF ‘WALKIE-TALKIE’

WITOLD IWAŃCZAK

He gained 30 patents in the sphere of radio-communication in the ultra-shortwaved and microwaved areas. In Poland he built radio –stations, in the United States he became a pioneer of wireless communication. In 2006 he was inscribed onto an Honourable List of Engineers of the Illinois State (The Engineering at Illinois Hall of Fame). His name was also given to the department at the Electronics Faculty and IT Sciences at Illinois University.

Short childhood

Władysław Magnuski was born on 30 January 1909 in Warsaw as a son of Henryk Antoni and Helena Pelagia from the Klippel family. A year later, on 26 June, his sister Janina was born. It had only been four days after that joyful event when a tragedy happened – their father died suddenly at the age of 3. Her mother, younger by their father by 14 years, had to take care of the two little children. Unfortunately, she died on 31 January 1931, a day after the 22nd birthday of Henryk. Day by day he was becoming the only money-earner of the family. He studied and also earned for living for himself and his sister by repairing and installing radio sets for the army. In 1934 he graduated from Polytechnics in Warsaw and began to work in the National Tele- and Radio-technical Plants, in which he became a director of a team of constructors. In those years he constructed military radio-stations N1 and N2. At the same time his sister Janina graduated from university and began to work as a teacher. In June 1939 Henryk was delegated to New York in order to gain some knowledge about elaborations in the sphere of radio transmitters. The outbreak of the war made it impossible for him to return to country.

Career in the USA

In 1940 Henryk Magnuski was employed in Galvin manufacturing Corporation (the company took the name of Motorola). In the beginning he was elaborating a movable set for this company to make a radio connection, the so-called handie-talkie (marked with the symbol SCR-536). The apparatuses produced in series from July 1940, were used by the American army before joining the war by the USA. It was a lamp device of one mile range in the open area, using modulation of amplitude (AM). The main merits of the radio-telephone was its small weight (about 2 kilos despite its being equipped with 18 lamps) and durability. If necessary – it was possible to dip it in water. This radio-telephone, the first in the world, was empowered by two batteries: 4.5V incandescent and 90 V anodic ones. The success of the invention is proved by a number of copies of SCR-36 produced by GMC till the end of the world war - over 100 thousand (according to some sources – 500 thousand). Although the invention gained a lot of praises, the Corpus of Connection of American army ordered a few companies to make a device of range higher by three times. When Daniel E. Noble from Galvin Manufacturing Corporation accepted the order from the army, he suggested using frequency modulation (FM) instead of amplitude. In autumn 1940 Noble ordered a team of engineers to deal with this problem; the team was managed by Henryk Magnuski. The team consisted of: Marion Bond, Lloyd Morris, Bill Vogel and Andy Affrunti. The army demanded that the weight of the device, carried on the back of a soldier, had to be less than 35 pounds (about 17 kilos), so that it would be resistant to rain, providing connection to a distance not less than 3 miles and would offer 48 channels on frequency 40-48 MHz. The team of technicians from GMC managed to make a connection on a distance of nearly 9 miles (about 15 km), that is, three times more than specification required it. The final result of their work received the name of walkie-talkie and marking SCR-300 FM. The Radio-station weighed only a bit more than 16 kilos. Walkie-talkie was accompanying American soldiers on the frontiers of the war in Europe and on the Pacific. It made communication of infantry, artillery and armored troops possible. The radio-station had a very high stability and there was no problem with tuning the device to various frequencies. From 1943 till the end of the war GMC was producing 43 thousand those devices. Magnuski gained three patents connected with constructing the radio-station SCR-300 FM and after years, hearing that he was ‘the father of walkie-talkie’, he reacted with laughter and concluded that his contribution in this constructing work was only partial – about 70-80 percent. The Polish engineer did not limit his work to the radio-telephone or the backpack radio-station. He also elaborated a radio-lighthouse AN/CPN-6, for which he received a certificate of Navy army of the USA. It made it easier for pilots to return to aircraft carriers in the case of limited visibility.

After the war, Henryk Magnuski remained in the USA. He worked on cavity resonators and their usage as entrance filters in micro-waved radio sets (among the others, in the radio set ‘Sensicon’) and on constructing micro-waved transmitter stations of multiple telephony, TV and data transmission. In the Department of Government Electronics Division of Motorola he elaborated the construction of the radio-station SSB of AN/USC-3 type, system RADAS and the system of tropospheric communication DeltapexI and the apparatus AN/TRC-105. He received the post of a manager for researches of the company. He gained 30 patents in total, from the sphere of short-waved and micro-waved radio-communication. He got retired early because of his bad health condition. He belonged to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. He was the author of many books in professional magazines and a chapter of a collective work ‘Selected issues of electronics and tele-communication’, published in Warsaw in 1968 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of academic and scientific work of Janusz Groszkowski.

Personal life

Henryk Magnuski was a tall (186 m tall) handsome man. He was attracted to Helena Błaszczeńska, two years younger than him. Helena (born in Chicago on 27 July 1911) was a daughter of immigrants from Poland – Stanisław and Marianna from the Płaszczykowski family. Her family came from Kluczbork, and her mum – from Szubin, but they got married in the USA. Henryk and Helena got married on 7 February 1942. Their modest wedding ceremony took place at the side altar in the church under vocation of the Holy Trinity in Chicago. The newly- married couple moved to Glenview – a town situated in the northern-eastern part of American state of Illinois, in the county Cook, in agglomeration of Chicago, about 30 km to the north from the centre of the city. They had two children – a daughter Marilyn Jane born in 1943 and a son Henry Stanley, younger by one year, who did PhD studies and is a specialist for communication in computer networks and walkie-talkie. Henry ‘Hank’ Stanley got married to Cynthia Jose and they also have two children: a daughter Sarah Emily and a son Nicholas Hnery. Nicholas got married to Kristie Lynn Weber, and their sons are: Everett Nicholas and August Henry. It is seen that in the Magnuski family tradition of giving a name to a son after his father is maintained and this is name Henry.

Henry Magnuski died from cancer in his house on 4 May 1978. His sister Janina died as childless on 8 June 1984 in Warsaw and was buried on Powązki. Henry’s wife – Helena Magnuski, a doctor with PhD, died on 14 April 2008 in Glenview. She belonged to the Union of Polish Women in America.

Translated by Aneta Amrozik

Niedziela 20/2018 (20 V 2018)

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Lidia Dudkiewicz • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl