Chair’s Message, Nov 2021

As we enter the holiday season, let me wish the Section membership a very happy Thanksgiving. Although the times are still uncertain and the pandemic is still with us, the slow return to normal is starting to emerge. Usually, at this time, we would be having elections for Section officers. Since there was no election this year, the current slate of officers will continue for another term. Perhaps this time next year the burden of virtual meetings and remote attendance at events will be a bad memory.

Two highlights for November are the upcoming CEWIT 2021 Conference and the IEEE Historic Milestone Event commemorating the 100th anniversary of the founding of RCA with the first transoceanic radio transmission from Rocky Point. Registration links for these events are: CEWIT and IEEE RCA Historic Milestone.

With regard to the RCA event, I would like to add a little historical background. David Sarnoff was a Marconi Wireless office boy working in the Wanamaker Department Store radio station. These early stations broadcast Morse code messages, but were mainly window dressing. That is, until the Titanic struck an iceberg. David Sarnoff was one of the telegraph operators handling the radio traffic about the disaster as it was occurring. He was able to compile a list of survivors from the rescue ship Carpathia and forwarded the news of their good fortune to their families. Here is a picture of Sarnoff at the Wanamaker station during the three days he was on duty.

The US Congress passed the Radio Act of 1912 in response to the Titanic disaster. One of its requirements was that radio technicians and operators be licensed. The Marconi Company then recruited Sarnoff as an instructor in the new technology. Little did they know that they would be taken over in a few years and the new entity would have Sarnoff as its chief executive. The rest of this story and full details of the transoceanic radio transmission will be the subject of the milestone event on November 5 in Rocky Point. See you there.

Arnold Stillman
IEEE Long Island Section Chair, 2021