Inventory of Thorn Mayes Sound Recordings (2003-38) at History San Jose Research Library & Archives

Inventory of Thorn Mayes Sound Recordings at History San Jose Research Library & Archives (2003-38)

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Preferred citation: "Title of transcript," Perham Collection of Early Electronics: Thorn Mayes Sound Recordings, 2003-38, History San Jose Research Library & Archives

Tape No.


Talks by Thorn Mayes and others


Spark Transmitters.” August 1965, 19 min. Talk by Thorn Mayes. Explanation of their operation and actual examples of spark tones. Explanation of equipment he built to generate actual spark signals.


History of Wireless Communication to 1930.” April 4, 1975, 52 min. Talk by Thorn Mayes. Commercial, government and amateur radio operation beginning in about 1897. Development of radio communication beginning with spark transmission and continuing thru early vacuum tubes to about 1930. Includes examples of the sound of multiple spark transmissions (QRM).


History of the Steam Engine to 1900.” February 16, 1965, 17 min. Talk by Thorn Mayes to the General Electric Company Advanced Engineering Program. Traces the history of the steam engine as the technologies of materials, tools, mechanical engineering, and precision machining are brought together to make a steam engine.


Spark Transmissions and Interference.” 1970, 20 min. Talk and demonstration by Thorn Mayes. Explanation of his variable frequency spark transmitter. Richard Johnstone, Frank Geisel and Thorn Mayes then demonstrate multiple spark transmissions (QRM).


Steamship ‘Congress’ Fire at Sea 1916.” 1965, 22 min. Talk and messages by Cmdr. Richard Johnstone W6EYO. Description of the fire and rescue using wireless.


Steamship ‘City of Honolulu’ Fire at Sea - October 12, 1922.” 1965, 75 min. Talk and messages by Cmdr. Richard Johnstone W6EYO and Walter P. Bell, Sr. Operator. Description of the fire and rescue of all 217 passengers/crew by using wireless. Told by those actually involved in the rescue.


The Federal Telegraph Company.” April 27, 1974, 75 min. Speech by Dr. Leonard Fuller at the Antique Wireless Association meeting at Foothill College Museum (Los Altos Hills, California). He describes their arc transmitters and their development. He talks about the company and narrates some slides.


William Dubilier.” April 27, 1974, 31 min. Speech by Warren Green at the Antique Wireless Association meeting at Foothill College Museum (Los Altos Hills, California). Note: This talk makes use of information gathered from Green’s interview with Paul Hackett, #13-5C.


Atwater Kent Receivers.” April 27, 1974, 20 min. Speech by Ralph Williams to the Antique Wireless Association meeting at Foothill College Museum (Los Altos Hills, California). He discusses each model that Atwater Kent built. (Williams speaks very quickly on the tape, and the audio is not ideal)


Reminiscence of Radio History.” April 26, 1975, 55 min. Talk given by Ralph Heintz, Sr., at Antique Wireless Association meeting, Foothill College Museum (Los Altos Hills, California). Reviews major contributors in developing wireless: Hertz, Edison, Fleming, Paul Syler, Marconi, Poulsen, Federal Telegraph magnet used for first cyclotron, Cyril Elwell, Lee de Forest, Goddard, Millikan.


Talk by Dr. E. B. Myers.” October 1969, 68 min. Speech given at Antique Wireless Association meeting. Topics include Edison effect in lamps; Fleming valve; Myers valve, audion, challenging existing patents; Charles Logwood; wireless telephone with Poulsen arc; light valve; heterodyne between two transmitters; significant early wireless developments; Major Edwin Armstrong.


Wireless Companies of the U.S.A. 1899 to 1920.” September 7, 1973, 52 min. Talk by Thorn Mayes at Antique Wireless Association conference.


Assembly of the San Francisco Television Tower.” September 7, 1973, 33 min. Talk by Art Goodnow to the Antique Wireless Association conference.


The Tape Recorder Story.” October 17, 1974, 75 min. Talk by John Mullin at San Francisco State University on the history of magnetic recording, beginning with Poulsen in 1898.


The Ampex Story.” October 17, 1974, 60 min. Talk by Harold Lindsay at Foothill College Museum (Los Altos Hills, California). Traces the history of the Ampex Corporation starting in 1944 when they made specialty motors for the government. The tape recorder followed World War II. Bing Crosby became involved very early, but the ABC order for 24 units really started Ampex.


The Old Tuckerton (New Jersey) Station.” September 26, 1980, 45 min. Talk by Thorn Mayes at Antique Wireless Association meeting. This station was completed in 1913. Topics include: construction by Atlantic Communication Co.; initial 100 kW Toldsmitt alternator with three 865-foot towers and 40 KC frequency; failures in rotor/stator windings; eventually replaced with 100 kW arc transmitter; in 1921, two 200 kW Alexanderson alternators were moved in; operation closed in 1949.


Radio Station WSL at Sayville, Long Island.” 1978, 40 min. Talk by Thorn Mayes at Antique Wireless Association meeting. Built by the Germans and put into operation in early 1913. Taken over in 1915 when it was proven that it was being used by the Germans for their war effort. The talk covers the history of the station -- it was the first station to communicate across the Atlantic. Transmitter was a Von Arco frequency multiplying alternator. The station was sold by the U.S. Navy in 1923 for $43,000.


The American Marconi Wireless Telegraph Co.” September 1971, 43 min. Talk by Thorn Mayes at Antique Wireless Association meeting.


The de Forest Story.” 1980, 64 min. Talk by Thorn Mayes before the Antique Radio Club of America (ARCA), Mystic, Connecticut. Topics include formation of Wireless Telegraph Company of America in 1901; formation of American de Forest Company in 1903; eight succeeding companies; Federal Telegraph Company work; interest in radiotelephony using arc transmitter; demonstration of amplification of 120 times to AT&T; purchase of patent rights by AT&T in July 1913.



Interview of Paul Hackett by Warren R. Green.” September 9, 1969, 86 min. Conducted in Seattle, Washington. Topics include work with William Dubilier; becoming a loudspeaker manufacturer; Universal High Power Telephone Co.; theater sound systems. (The sound quality of this recording is very poor). Note: Green used information from this interview in his talk to the Antique Wireless Association in April, 1974 - see #08-7C.


Comments on Paul Hackett Interview (#13-5C).” April 4, 1970, 19 min. Comments by Bob Palmer and Charles Williams, recorded by Warren R. Green in Seattle, Washington.


Interview of Dr. Leonard Fuller by Thorn Mayes.” December 8, 1971, 15 min. Topics include arc transmitters, Federal Telegraph Company, Dr. Fuller’s early history after college, heterodyne receivers.


Interview of Fred Manglesdorf by Thorn Mayes.” November 10, 1974, 37 min. Topics include Kilbourne and Clark Co., Shipowners Service Co., Pacific Radio School, Federal Telegraph Company magnet used by the University of California as their first cyclotron.


Early Bay Area Tube Developments - Interview of Ralph Heintz, Sr. by Thorn Mayes.” June 30, 1974, 72 min. Wide-ranging discussion. Topics include Haller-Cunningham’s first San Francisco store; Von Lieben preceding de Forest on triode idea; early vacuum tube developments; Haller-Cunninghame/RCA tube deals; Harry Shoemaker; Dollar Steamship Company; radio mail; triode patent infringement suit by RCA; Globe Wireless start; gammatron tube; development of tantalum plates; Heintz & Kaufman Tube Co.; Eitel-McCullough; General Electric Co. carbon brush development for motors.


Interview of Joseph Danko by Thorn Mayes.” July 2, 1974, 23 min. Topics include his work at Lowenstein (1914), his move to the West Coast (1920), Harry Shoemaker patents, early wireless history and patents.


Interview of Charles E. Apgar by George Hix.” December 27, 1934, 16 min. Charles Apgar was amateur radio operator, Westville, New Jersey. The interview by Hix, of radio station WJZ, concerned the German radio station operating at Sayville, Long Island in 1915. Apgar recorded messages from this station (WSL) to give the U.S. government to show that the station was not neutral. The U.S. government subsequently closed the station. (Very poor sound quality)


Interview of Haraden Pratt by Thorn Mayes and Jane Morgan.” September 30, 1968, 54 min. Topics include Pratt’s operation of radio station NPG; Dr. Alexanderson; history of radio station KFS at Bolinas, California; history of first U.S. wireless connection in Avalon, California; development of West Coast wireless; history of the San Francisco beach radio station; Titanic distress messages and story.


Interview of Bob Palmer on SE-143 Receiver Design.” March 7, 1968, 22 min. Robert S. Palmer worked for the Marconi Company. Thorn Mayes interviewed him about the SE-143.


Interview of Bob Palmer on Details of the Titanic Disaster.” March 10, 1968, 43 min. Interview by Thorn Mayes. Charlie Stone was the first mate on the USS California at the Titanic sinking and later became a close friend of Palmer. Palmer relates how the Titanic disaster broke Charlie’s spirit; describes Captain Lord of USS California; comments on failure of land-based stations of Marconi to properly handle the disaster; includes many details of the sinking.


The Titanic Story by Joe Danko.” 1965, 17 min. Interviewed by Gary Halverson of California Historical Radio Society (Vol. 10, #3). Joe Danko was the radio operator at the Brooklyn Navy Yard station, NAH, on the night of the disaster and he handled traffic from the disaster. Danko took the survivor list from Carpathia the following morning to deliver to the press.


Discussion of Early Wireless and the Titanic Disaster.” January 20, 1968, 31 min. Thorn Mayes W6AX and Ray E. Meyers W6MLZ talk briefly about the interview of the Second Radio Officer Bride of the Titanic, the next morning on the Carpathia. Other topics include discussion of the formation of RCA, which Ray attended; history of Ray Meyers in the U.S. Navy; Haraden Pratt as an engineer for the Navy on the West Coast; Charlie Ellsworth, W1TU, operator at Cape Race; Ray’s later responsibility for 240 wireless operators along the East Coast.


Interview of Thorn Mayes, W6AX, by Ray Meyers W6MLZ.” January 20, 1968, 30 min. Interview conducted by Ray for his local radio program. Discussion of people and places in early radio.


Interview of Elmo Pickerill at A.W.A.” September 23, 1967, 17 min. Interview by Lyle Recker of radio station WUOM. Topics include Pickerill’s work with Lee de Forest; installation of radio stations in Colorado; early radio operation from aircraft.


Interview of Bob Palmer by Thorn Mayes.” October 1, 1969, 29 min. Topics include United Wireless history, American Marconi Company, wireless tuner history.


Interview of Bob Palmer by Thorn Mayes, Part 1.” May 15, 1971, 124 min. Topics include American Marconi Company history, United Wireless merger, transmitter designs of P-1 through P-12 in great detail.


Interview of Bob Palmer by Thorn Mayes, Part 2.” May 16, 1971, 75 min. Topics include American Marconi Company, Federal Telegraph Company, Pan American Wireless Telegraph Company. Detailed discussion of equipment specifications.


Interview of Bob Palmer on American Marconi Receivers by Thorn Mayes.” 1969, 62 min. Receiver Models #101-121 (1913-1918) are discussed in depth. Marconi spark transmitters are also discussed. (This interview does not actually appear to have been conducted by Thorn Mayes)


Comments by Bob Palmer on United Wireless Talk by Thorn Mayes.” May 1970, 27 min. Palmer notes that all ships were equipped with straight gaps, not rotary. By August 1912, all United Wireless operations were closed in San Francisco.


Interview of Elmo Pickerell by Bruce Kelley.” September 7, 1973, 36 min. Presented as a video at Antique Wireless Association conference.


Interview of Howard Pyle by Thorn Mayes.” Undated, 36 min. Interview conducted in Seattle. Wide-ranging discussion of early wireless on the West Coast and Alaska. Note: This is a very informal conversation between Howard Pyle, Thorn Mayes, and possibly Warren Green, without introduction or question and answer format. Partially transcribed. Contains anecdotal information on Pacific Northwest early radio.


A.W.A. Museum, Interviews with Famous People.” 9 min. Incomplete. Interviews by Bruce Kelley on topics including Marconi’s first broadcast; Owen D. Young of General Electric on forming RCA; Dr. E.F.W. Alexanderson; Capt. Round of British Marconi; Major Edwin Armstrong; amateur Paul Godley commenting on the first transatlantic transmission by amateurs.


S.A.R.O. Net, Easter 1970.” 1970, 60 min. Richard Johnstone, W6FZ, checked into net for first time after his medical operation.


Interviews at Society of Wireless Pioneers Convention by Gordon Greb, Jr.” April 19, 1975, 59 min. Recorded in San Mateo, California. Interviewees Ray Newby, broadcasting assistant to Dr. Herrold in San Jose; Richard Germain, an early shipboard wireless operator; Willard D. Edson, radio operator aboard U.S. Army Air Corps. dirigibles; Lee Fassett, United Wireless Telegraph operator; Bill Breniman, founder and General Manager of S.O.W.P.; Thorn Mayes.


Antique Wireless Association Founders Interviewed.” October 2, 1976, 10 min. Introduction by Chuck Brelsford, interviews by Thorn Mayes. The A.W.A. was formed in 1952 by George Batterson, Bruce Kelley and Linc Cundall.


Interview with Lee de Forest.” Circa 1950, 21 min. Recording from the Perham Foundation (California Historical Radio Society tape, Vol. 10, #2). Topics center around quality of radio broadcasting and future of television.


Radio Station PH/KPH Spark History.” circa 1965, 35 min. Thorn Mayes and Commander Richard Johnstone, early manager of the station, discuss the history of the station. Included are KPH messages transmitted with a spark transmitter having the same tone as KPH.


Interview of Charlie Kessler by Thorn Mayes.” May 27, 1971, 60 min. Charlie Kessler was a station KPH operator. Topics include his work as marine station operator 1910-1955; PH/KPH station operator work; Haraden Pratt replacing him at KPH; work at San Francisco station KFS for 25 years.


Frank Geisel on his Last Day at Radio Station KPH.” March 31, 1967, 18 min. Interviews and observations with operators and manager on Frank’s retirement as manager of KPH.

Radio broadcasts


25th Anniversary of Radio Broadcasting - 1945.” November 10, 1945, 32 min. (California Historical Radio Society tape, Vol. 11, #1). Broadcast transcription from CBS radio station KCBS in San Francisco on their 36th year of broadcasting. Narration by Paul Corland Smith who was also the engineer for the 1945 broadcast. Topics include Lee de Forest transmission of music in 1907; Charles Herrold; 1909 scheduled broadcasting; first 2-way voice communication in 1915; Drs. Herrold and de Forest demonstrate broadcasting at Panama Pacific Exposition in 1915; interview with Dr. Charles Herrold.


Golden Anniversary of KCBS - 1959.” 1959, 33 min. Taped from KCBS broadcast in San Francisco, marking the 30th anniversary of America’s first broadcast station, KCBS, located near San Francisco and part of the CBS Network at the time. Topics include Dr. Herrold in 1909; description of the arc transmitter; early history of broadcasting; brief interview with Douglas Perham of New Almaden Museum; development of vacuum tubes. (A transcript has been completed, and is available upon request. Copyright may rest with KCBS)


History of Radio Commemorative - 1969.” 1969, 24 min. Taped from KCBS broadcast in San Francisco, marking the 60th anniversary of America’s first broadcast station. (Consists mainly of clips from radio programs throughout the years. A transcript is available, but copyright may rest with KCBS)


Pat Novak for Hire” and “The Richfield Reporter.” 1949, 35 min. Recorded from San Francisco radio station KGO


Around the World with Howard Hughes - July 1938.” July 1938, 30 min. Radio station WOR coverage both inside the airplane and on the ground provided by Press Wireless. Amateur radio is involved. Howard Hughes is interviewed several times and speaks at the end.


The Hindenburg Disaster - May 6, 1937.” Circa 1970, 53 min. Dramatization of broadcast station coverage of the disaster from old transcriptions. Live, on the site, description of the explosion. Extensive analysis of the data afterward to establish a cause for the explosion.


Marconi History.” Circa 1945, 59 min. Broadcast radio dramatization and interviews. Complete history from birth to death. Includes link up with Lee de Forest in 1899, 1901 reception at Newfoundland of signal from Poldhu, Marconi’s Wireless Telegraph Co.



Brief Interviews with Thomas Edison and Some Early Edison Recordings.” 13 min. Includes Edison speaking about World War I, Edison on the subject of his electric lamp, interview at 84 years of age, early Edison recordings.


Famous Voices/Signals.” 1975, 21 min. Created by Thorn Mayes and Bruce Kelley for 1975 Antique Wireless Association meeting.


The Titanic Story by Joe Danko.” 1965, 17 min. California Historical Radio Society (Vol. 10, #3). Joe Danko was the radio operator at the Brooklyn Navy Yard station, NAH, on the night of the disaster and he handled traffic from the disaster. Danko took the survivor list from Carpathia the following morning to deliver to the press.


Last Voyage of the Queen Mary -- GBTT.” 1967, 15 min. Narrated by Art Goodnow and Bruce Kelley (Antique Wireless Association tape). Messages with other ships and shore during voyage.


ARRL Spark Tape.” 15 min. From George Grammer. Description of spark transmitters from vibrator coils through transformers with spark gap, then rotary gaps, and then synchronous gaps. Includes equipment demonstrations.


Letter from Archives of Swedish Delegation in U.S.A. to the General Director of Communications in Stockholm.” Undated, 11 min. Translated to English by Kaye Weedon. The letter addresses the danger of the General Electric Company granting exclusive rights to the Alexanderson alternator to the Marconi Company.


Tape from Bruce Kelley.” Undated, 8 min. Subjects include a message from Voice of America; history of Antique Wireless Association; Lee de Forest’s birthday.


Brief Talk by W2APF (Uncle Dave).” 1956, 6 min. Narrated by Bruce Kelley.


The Marconi Story” from “60 Years of Radio,” produced by the BBC (British Broadcasting Company). Undated, 25 min. California Historical Radio Society Tape, Vol. 10, #3.


Early Radio Broadcasting - 1935.” Undated, 27 min. Comments by Herbert C. McKay. California Historical Radio Society tape, Vol. 11, #3. Mr. McKay describes a radio broadcasting room of 1935 and then goes on to tell about his programs titled “Behind the Lens.” Included is an actual transcription of his October 24, 1935 program.


Actual Message Handling at KPH Radio - 1965.” November 8, 1965, 170 min. Narrated by Warren Simpson, Station Manager.


KPH-KHK 60-Year Commemorative.” October 1968, 23 min. C.W. conversation between these two stations. Narrated.


Richard Johnstone of Radio Station KPH.” Undated, 24 min. From “Sparks Journal” of Society of Wireless Pioneers, read by Larry Boyson. California Historical Radio Society tape, Vol. 11, #1.


History of Radio Station PH/KPH by Cmdr. Richard Johnstone.” February 1968, 25 min. Includes authentic messages using an actual spark transmitter.

Recordings of Station Transmissions and other Sounds


KPH Spark Messages of 1916.” Circa 1968, 12 min. Narrated by Thorn Mayes.


PH/KPH Spark Messages.” July 1970, 21 min. Various spark transmitter tones are generated including the final KPH spark transmission before changing to C.W.


Spark Transmitter Tones 90 - 500 CPS.” 1965, 15 min. Test tape by Thorn Mayes.


Locomotive Sounds of 1957-1958 Era.” 1957, 60 min.


An Anthology of Radio Signals.” 1971, 85 min. By Radio Society of Great Britain (G2NY). Narrated. Characteristics and sound of most modulation types.


Evolution of Wireless Signals.” Undated, 8 min. By Bruce Kelley. A Wide variety of spark transmitter tones followed by early CW signals, then later CW signals, followed by voice.


Startup and Running of the Alexanderson Alternator at Marion, Massachusetts.” 1957, 7 min.


Running of the Alexanderson Alternator at Grimeton, Sweden.” May 1986, 17 min. Narrated by Kaye Weedon.


Marine Station KKTQ South Pacific Recordings of KPH - 1964.” Fall 1964, 120 min. This ship was checking the sound and reception conditions of KPH at sea.


South Pacific Ship and Commercial Radio Stations, Part 1.” September 1969, 120 min. Narrated and recorded on board ship by Cliff Nichols W6FZC.


South Pacific Ship and Commercial Radio Stations, Part 2.” September 1969, 120 min. Narrated and recorded by Cliff Nichols W6FZC on board ship.


KPH South Pacific Shipboard Test #1.” Undated, 60 min. Recorded in the Indian Ocean.


KPH South Pacific Shipboard Test #2.” Undated, 60 min. Recorded on board ship.


Simulated KPH Spark Transmissions #1.” Circa 1968, 60 min. Created by Richard Johnstone and Thorn Mayes.


Simulated KPH Spark Transmissions #2.” Circa 1968, 60 min. Created by Richard Johnstone and Thorn Mayes.


Copy of 1918 Marconi Code Practice Records.” Undated, 53 min. By Victor Talking Machine Co., copied by Vance Phillips. Includes six records, with instructions, on learning the code for letters, numbers, and punctuation. Code practice is included.


AMECO Code Course to 18 W.P.M.” 60 min.


Spark Transmitter Code Tape for A.W.A.” Circa 1968, 8 min. By Thorn Mayes, includes spark notes of 50, 60, 120, 360, and 500 CPS.


Authentic Messages Exchanged at Titanic Sinking.” Circa 1968, 18 min. By Thorn Mayes. These messages have been taken from actual ships logs. The spark code transmissions are followed by English translation.


Radio Station KPH Spark Transmissions - July 14, 1916 - Press to the Pacific.” August 22, 1970, 10 min. Created by Cmdr. Richard Johnstone and Thorn Mayes for Wireless Pioneers picnic.


Spark Traffic.” Circa 1968, 4 min. Narrated by Thorn Mayes.


A.W.A. Call Letter Test - October 4, 1969.” July 1968, 4 min. By Thorn Mayes.


First Transcontinental Relay by Spark - 1920.” 1965, 10 min. Thorn Mayes created original messages. amateur stations W5VA and W6EA were relays.


KPH Traffic Before 1920.” Circa 1968, 14 min. By Thorn Mayes. Brief description followed by typical KPH traffic sent on a spark transmitter.


Spark Code Tape for Q.C.W.A.” January 1966, 8 min. John Slater, W6WF, of U.S.S. Maltnoma, sends code on spark transmitter for the Q.C.W.A. meeting.


Example of Spark Transmission Interference - 1968 A.W.A.” 1968, 19 min. By Thorn Mayes. Actual multiple spark transmitter interference (QRM) demonstrated, followed by a call sign test with interference.


Marconi-Victor Wireless Telegraph Series.” Undated, 8 min. By Harry Chadwick of Marconi Institute. Lesson 5: Marconi press dispatches, Lesson 6: Messages with interference.


Marine Code Recorded off the Air - 1974.” 1974, 17 min.


Tape of WJZ (How Naval Intelligence proved espionage against New York station to German Station NAUEN Dec. 27, 1934.)” 5” reel to reel tape, not transcribed.

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