Armstrong Meets Sarnoff — Again

On Jan. 30, sometime in the evening at run-down shed in Belmar, N.J., the New Jersey Antique Radio Club and the InfoAge Science History Museum are going to reenact an important demonstration that took place 100 years earlier. And it won’t be just any demonstration.

On Jan. 30, 1914, Edwin Howard Armstrong visited an American Marconi site at Belmar and demonstrated his “regenerative receiver” to David Sarnoff. At that time, listening to signals through a radio was little more than trying to hear the weak, unamplified, signal itself, but as night fell on Jan. 30, with the regenerative receiver amplifying received signals, Sarnoff, Columbia University’s electrical engineering Prof. John Harold Morecroft and a “Mr. Wiegant,” could easily pick stations from San Francisco and Hawaii out of the ether.

Sarnoff was impressed, reporting back to his superiors, “I am of the opinion that he [Armstrong] has the most remarkable receiving system in existence.” Many credit this event as the beginning of true modern broadcast.

This particular Jan. 30, the groups plan to reenact the event, complete with period clothing and at what is believed to be the same shed at Belmar where it took place. They have attempted to recreate Armstrong’s regenerative receiver, though its specifics are lost to time.

A week or so later, Feb. 8–9, a more public commemorative presentation will take place at the museum, the former Marconi site.

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