ARRL

ARRL Special Bulletin ARLX014 (2000)

SB SPCL @ ARL $ARLX014
ARLX014 Personal Communications Pioneer Al Gross, W8PAL, SK

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Special Bulletin 14  ARLX014
From ARRL Headquarters  
Newington CT  December 28, 2000
To all radio amateurs 

SB SPCL ARL ARLX014
ARLX014 Personal Communications Pioneer Al Gross, W8PAL, SK

The man who brought the world such indispensable wireless
communications concepts and devices as the walkie-talkie, pager and
cordless telephone has died. Al Gross, W8PAL, of Sun City, Arizona,
passed away on December 21. He was 82.

Gross obtained his Amateur Radio license in 1934 at the age of 16.
His early interest in Amateur Radio helped set his career choice
while he was still a teenager.

Gross pioneered the development of devices that operated in the
relatively unexplored VHF and UHF spectrum above 100 MHz. His first
invention was a portable hand-held radio transmitter-receiver.
Developed in 1938 while he was still in high school in Cleveland, he
christened it the ''walkie-talkie.'' The device caught the attention
of the US Office of Strategic Services--the forerunner of the
Central Intelligence Agency. The OSS recruited Gross, and this led
to the invention of a two-way air-to-ground communications system
used by the military behind enemy lines during the World War II. The
system allowed OSS agents to communicate with high-flying aircraft.

After World War II, Gross set up Gross Electronics Inc to design and
build various communications products, some of them under government
contracts. He also launched Citizens Radio Corporation to design,
develop and manufacture personal wireless transceivers.

Cartoonist Chester Gould asked if he could use Gross' concept of a
miniaturized two-way radio in his Dick Tracy comic strip. The result
was the Dick Tracy two-way wrist radio.

During the 1950s and 1960s, Gross secured several patents for
various portable and cordless telephone devices. In September 1958
Gross Electronics received FCC type approval for mobile and
hand-held transceivers for use on the new Class D 27-MHz Citizens
Band.

''If you have a cordless telephone or a cellular telephone or a
walkie talkie or beeper, you've got one of my patents,'' Gross once
said. He added that if his patents on those technologies hadn't run
out in 1971, he'd have been a millionaire several times over.

Over the years, Gross worked as a communications specialist for
several large companies. Since 1990, he had worked as a senior
engineer for Orbital Sciences Corporation and was still on the
payroll there when he died.

Gross received numerous awards and honors during his distinguished
career, including the 1992 Fred B. Link Award from the Radio Club of
America, the 1997 Marconi Memorial Gold Medal of Achievement from
the Veteran Wireless Operators Association, and the 1999 Edwin
Howard Armstrong Achievement Award from the Institute of Electrical
and Electronics Engineers. In 1998, he received Eta Kappa Nu's
Vladimir Karapetoff Eminent Members' Award in recognition of his
pioneering contributions to the engineering of personal wireless
communications.

Earlier this year he won the Lemelson-MIT Lifetime Achievement Award
for invention and innovation and for playing a major role in the
wireless personal communications field.

As his IEEE biography put it: ''It is clear that Mr. Gross was a true
pioneer and helped lead the way to today's wireless personal
communications revolution.''

Al Gross is survived by his wife, Ethel. A burial mass was held
December 27 in Sun City.--thanks to The W5YI Report and the IEEE for
this information.
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