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Die ausgewählten Artikel stammen aus der RCA Firmen-Zeitung vom Dezember 1961 - Die Einführung beginnt hier.


Eine amerikanische Firmen-Laudatio auf den RCA-Präsidenten

Würdigungen, Vorschusslorbeeren und Laudatien haben immer ein kleines oder großes Geschmäckle. Bei uns in Deutschland war das Walter Bruch, der mit Lob überhäuft wurde und Dr. Fritz Schröter, der wiederum verdängt wurde. Beide hatten herausragende Eigenschaften, die aber kaum zur Geltung kamen. Schröter hatte zum Beispiel das Schrägspur-Konzept mit dem rotierenden Magnetkopf bereits in den 1930er Jahren beschrieben.

Auch von Dr. h.c. Engstrom - bei uns wurde sehr großer Wert darauf gelegt, ob es ein erarbeiteter Dr. Titel war oder ein verliehener wie bei Walter Bruch - lesen wir nur die eine Seite der Medallie.


Twenty-seven years ago there appeared in BROADCAST NEWS a brief column (below) about a quiet, dedicated young scientist who was just beginning to make his mark in RCA. Last month this quiet, dedicated, still-young-looking, scientist-turned-administrator was elected President of RCA.

In the years between Elmer Engstrom had successfully directed RCA's quarter-century effort to develop and perfect television, marshalled RCA's research abilities during World War II, directed RCA's ten-fold increase in defense electronics following Korea, and organized the company's push into space electronics.

He had been, successively, Director of General Research, Vice-President in Charge of RCA Laboratories, Executive Vice-President in Charge of Research and Engineering, and, since 1955, Senior Executive Vice-President with responsibility not only for all research and engineering but also for direction of the Corporation's all-important defense and space operations.

Als Brig. Gen. David Sarnoff das Ruder übergab

The announcement of Dr. Engstrom's election as President was made on December 1, 1961, by Brig. Gen. David Sarnoff, Chairman of the RCA Board of Directors. It was an announcement which he obviously relished making - for Dr. Engstrom is very much in the pioneering tradition established for RCA by the General himself.

It was an announcement which was greeted happily throughout the company - for, as many pointed out, "He's one of us." And it was an announcement which was welcomed by an industry which had come to recognize Dr. Engstrom as one of its most respected leaders.

To everyone in RCA, and to most of the industry, it seemed "very right" that Elmer Engstrom should become President of RCA. In fact, it was so right that, curiously, most people were somewhat surprised when it actually did happen.

Possibly Dr. Engstrom was a little surprised, too. Cerlainly, the quiet, courteous young scientist pictured in that early BROADCAST NEWS column did not then envision himself in the President's chair.

Perhaps he did not even expect to become the top engineer in RCA. The odds seemed against it.

"Who's Who" von 1934 .......

The 1934 "Who's Who" column (the first of a series) carried stories on three engineers.

The first two were W. R. G. Baker and Dr. V. K. Zworykin. "Doc" Baker was then Vice-President in Charge of Engineering, and Dr. Zworykin was already famous for his invention of the iconoscope. But who was this third man, Engstrom? Outside of the Camden laboratories few had ever heard of him.

It was only by some remarkable prescience of the editor that he was included. For at that time, and for some years after, he was surrounded by better-known men of great talent - the top engineers of radio's early days, brought together in Camden when the radio engineering and manufacturing activities of General Electric and Westinghouse were transferred to RCA in 1930.

Moreover, these were not only giants of genius - but men of independent and tempestuous ways. No one who knew that curious menage would have prophesied that the quiet young man with the cherubic countenance would some day rule the lion cage - and that he would go on from there to run the greatest electronic company on earth.

Engstrom is an astute organizer and administrator

But this young man was not only a scientist - he was also an astute organizer and administrator. The exigencies of television development soon brought this to light.
Elmer Engstrom's first research group was relatively small. But things were moving. It was 1931, and RCA was about to make the first "field test" of a complete television system.

Elmer Engstrom - having already served apprenticeships in transmitters, in receivers, and in sound motion pictures - was ready.

The Empire State Bulding was invaded (the first of many times) and a transmitter installed on the 85th floor. A mechanical scanner (das war damals dei Nipkow-Scheibe) provided a 120-line, 24-frame picture from live and film subjects.

Extensive field tests were made using the first cathode ray tube receivers. The pictures left much to be desired but the equipment worked well as a system - and the tests proved that a television broadcasting service was, indeed, possible.

It was a milestone in television development - and the quiet young scientist had played an important part. For the next twenty years he was to be in the very center of RCA's television development - and to take an increasingly important part in it.

His research responsibilities were gradually broadened to include apparatus, systems, and tubes.

RCA was to introducing television in 1939

By the time RCA was ready to introduce television to the public, at the World's Fair in 1939, he was in charge of all research for the RCA Manufacturing Company.

In 1942, when the research activities of RCA were brought together at Princeton, N. J., Dr. Engstrom was appointed Director of General Research.

The war was on - and the job was to organize the diverse talents of all the Laboratories' bright stars. It was not easy.

But Elmer Engstrom had worked with these engineers and scientists during the early television experiments. He knew what each could do - and how to harness their various abilities to best advantage.

Under his direction the research group of RCA Laboratories compiled a brilliant war-time record in radar, shoran, sonar, airborne television, infrared, radio thermics and many facets of communications.

Dann war der Krieg vorbei und nun ?

With the end of the war came the problem of reorienting to peacetime pursuits. Television again became the big thing in electronics.

A flurry of new stations was followed by a "freeze" while the industry and FCC settled the question of standards-first for monochrome, and then for color.

During the interminable field tests, hearings and reviews, Elmer Engstrom directed RCA's technical efforts and acted as the Corporation's chief spokesman.

He also served as Vice-Chairman of the NTSC - the industry committee which studied and recommended the standards eventually adopted by the FCC.

His abilities - by now well recognized within RCA - began to be noticed by others. In 1949, New York University conferred on him the honorary degree of Doctor of Science.

Interestingly, the citation read (in part): "Elmer W. Engstrom .... one of that exclusive group of latter-day Prometheans who not only illumines with his own brilliance, but who yokes his fellow Titans unrenowned for tractability into corporate resourcefulness and fecundity."

Truer fifty-cent words have seldom been written - for Dr. Engstrom's great ability is, indeed, to recognize, organize and direct the proliferating talents which surround him.

This has become even more evident in the ten years since the NYU citation. In 1951, he was made Vice-President in Charge of RCA Laboratories and in 1954, he was given the additional responsibility for all engineering throughout the Corporation.

His big step upward 1955

His big step upward came in 1955, when he was also placed in charge of RCA's Defense activities. Spurred by the experience of Korea, a tremendous build-up was taking place in defense electronics. Dr. Engstrom - as he had done previously in television and war-time research - organized all of RCA's abilities into a great team of science, engineering and production.

RCA's defense business, less than $50 million annually at the time of Korea, climbed steadily to nearly $500 million in 1961.

Monster projects - such as BMEWS - were undertaken and successfully completed. In 1958, Dr. Engstrom set up an Astro-Electronics Division to give special attention to RCA's projects in space technology. The very successful TIROS weather-reporting satellites were an early product of this division.

As Senior Executive Vice-President Dr. Engstrom has, in recent years, also had the responsibility for manufacturing and other corporate staff activities. In his new position he will have supervision of all company operations.

Wer ist Elmer Engstrom .....

What is this prodigious man like - as a person? His steadfastness is his outstanding trait. The picture above suggests that he has not changed very much from his days as a young engineer.

Those who know Elmer Engstrom best will tell you that he is, indeed, the same man. More experienced, of course, more mature - but still quiet in mien, courteous in speech, and almost embarrassingly honest in everything he does.

He is - as he always was - searching in questioning, and steely eyed in decision-making. He has a natural reserve that is sometimes mistaken for aloofness. But it is noticeable that he remembers and is quick to acknowledge the thousands of acquaintances he has made over the years. And he has made a point of maintaining personal relationships which date back to his days as a young engineer.

Without exception those who have worked with him have not only a high respect for his ability and integrity, but also a genuine liking for the man himself. The unanimity of this regard is overwhelming.

The news of his elevation to President was received in various departments of RCA with a reaction which varied from quiet jubilation to unabashed celebration.

Broadcasters, too, should be pleased. Like many BROADCAST NEWS readers he has spent his entire working life in radio, television and related fields - and his career has closely paralleled, and been interwoven with, the development of broadcasting. Certainly Broadcasters can look forward to a strong continuation of RCA's interest in their field.
DR. E. W. ENGSTROM President, Radio Corporation of America

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