Amateurs - Your Thoughts May be Worth Money
(Zenith Radio Corporation Letter)
March 1939 QST

March 1939 QST

March 1939 QST Cover - RF CafeTable of Contents

Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles from QST, published December 1915 - present (visit ARRL for info). All copyrights hereby acknowledged.

During the Golden Age of Radio (admittedly a subjective term), electronics innovators were generally as likely to be hobbyists (amateurs) as they were to be professionals with college degrees. In fact, according to this open letter from Eugene F. McDonald, president of Zenith Radio Corporation, in 1939, his company recognized the fact that most of their best ideas came from amateur radio operators, and that their engineering staff was populated overwhelmingly with Hams. Accordingly, the letter was a solicitation to amateurs to submit their ideas to the company to give designers not just valuable technical information gleaned from real-world experimentation (aka the School of Hard Knocks) but also insight into what type of equipment the Ham world would like to have made available for sale.

Wouldn't it be great to still see the foundational electronics brands start re-appearing on store shelves again (yes, and online, too)? Would it mean anything to you to still be able to buy a made-in-America television or radio from RCA, Zenith, Westinghouse, Crosley, Farnsworth, or Sylvania? If you're visiting from Germany, how about a Braun or a Klein & Hummel? Here from Spain? How would a spanking new Magnadyne sitting on the table scratch an itch? Find some of your own country's vintage equipment manufacturers here on the Radio Museum website.

Amateurs - Your Thoughts May be Worth Money

Amateurs - Your Thoughts May be Worth Money/Zenith Radio Corporation Letter, March 1939 QST - RF Cafe

Amateurs - Your Thoughts May be Worth Money

(Zenith Radio Corporation Letter)

Zenith Radio Corporation

6001 Dickens Avenue


To Radio Amateurs:

This is an invitation to every "ham" in the world.

Most advertisers in magazines, newspapers, etc., tell you how to spend your money. This is not that type of message.

I have always contended that the credit for most of the major developments we have in radio have been due to the American amateur. The radio industry's enormous laboratories have done little but refine that which the amateur discovered. The Zenith Radio Corporation is always ready to reward amateurs who send us suggestions that we have not before had, if we adopt them.

We haven't an engineer in our laboratory over forty years old - they're all ex-"hams," progressive and very much open-minded. To them nothing is impossible. We have found that it is not always the fellow who knows all the rules of why things won't work that produces real results. As a matter of fact, the contrary is usually true.

If you want to see an example of development, drop into a Zenith dealer's store and examine the Wavemagnet model of radio, just put on the market, using no antenna, ground or battery. This is not a set built for "hams." This job was suggested by an amateur and the improved shielded loop was refined by our laboratory. If you know how to build this loop better, tell us and, if your suggestion is novel and we adopt it, we will reward you.

So, you see this was not an ad telling you how to spend your money. It is just an invitation for more of you to correspond with us on further developments.

Cordially yours,

E.F. McDonald, Jr.



Posted May 19, 2021
(updated from original post on 10/23/2013)