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Wind-Up Radio Inventor Trevor Baylis Dead at 80


Inventor and Honorary Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) Member, Trevor Baylis of London, died March 5 after a long illness. His wind-up radio made communication available to people across Africa who had no access to electricity. When Baylis learned of the spread of AIDS in Africa in 1991, he set about developing his spring-powered wind-up radio that did not require batteries or other power sources.

His first working prototype ran for 14 minutes. The following year, BayGen Power Industries was set up in Cape Town, South Africa, employing disabled workers to manufacture the freeplay wind-up radio. A newer model, which debuted in 1997, was designed especially for the western consumer market and could run for up to an hour after only 20 seconds of winding. That radio included a solar panel.

Baylis was awarded Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 1997, and then Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 2015.