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Al Gross

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Biography

Al gross was born on February 22, 1918 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and moved as a child to Cleveland, OH. His interest in radio began when he was nine years old, traveling aboard a Great Lakes steamer with his family when Gross was immediately fascinated by the equipment in the radio operator's cabin. He began building a radio station from junkyard parts in his basement, and earned his amateur radio license (callsign W8PAL) at 16.

In 1936 Gross enrolled at the Cleveland's Case of Applied Sciences to pursue a BSEE, and between 1938 and 1941 patented a walkie-talkie design. During World War II, Gross assisted in building a two-way air-to-ground communication system for the U.S. Office of Stategic Services, known as the Joan-Eleanor system, which used a hand-held SSTC-502 transceiver ("Joan") and a much larger aircraft-based SSTR-6 transceiver ("Eleanor"). The Joan-Eleanor system was marked Top Secret by the U.S. military until its declassification in 1976.

After the war, Gross formed Gross Electronics Co to produce two-way communications for frequencies allotted for personal radio services, and Gross Electronics was the first to receive FCC approval in 1948. Gross Electronics sold more than one hundred thousand units, primarily to the U.S. Coast Guard and farmers. In 1949, Gross had adapted the two-way radios for cordless remote telephonic signaling.

Gross received a number of awards and professional honors for his work, including the 1992 Fred M. Link Award from the Radio Club of America, the 1984 IEEE Centennial Medal, the 1997 Marconi Memorial Gold Medal of Achievement from the Veteran Wireless Operators Association, the 1998 Eta Kappa Nu's Vladimir Karapetoff Eminent Members' Award, the 1999 Edwin Howard Armstrong Achievement Award from the IEEE Communications Society and the 2000 IEEE Millennium Medal.

Gross died on December 21st, 2000.

Further Reading

Hand-Held Radios and Electronic Beepers - A first hand history by Gross on his work on hand held radios, the Joan-Eleanor system, and its appearance in Dick Tracy.

Old Time Radio Night - Presentations by Al Gross, Stu Meyers, Charlie Higginbottom, Roger Madden and Fred Link at the May 1991 Vehicular Technology Conference.