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Friends Remembered Home | Friends Detail

Al Gross (W8PAL)

December 21, 2000

I did not know Al personally, but feel like I have known him for years. I can't believe he is not remembered here so am taking the opportunity. After all, we hams, as well as all citizens of the world, owe him much for the countless contributions he made to mankind. Al Gross is "the inventor of the hand held transceiver", and nick named his invention the "walkie talkie." He is also the inventor of the personal pager, wireless mobile telephone, and countless other visionary devices. In fact, In 1948 Chester Could, the cartoonist of Dick Tracy, came across Alís wristwatch transceiver concept. He asked Al for permission to use it in his Dick Tracy cartoons. Al gave his permission and the rest is cartoon history. Al was passionate about ham radio as well, his interests in ham radio began when he was only 12, when he converted his parents basement into an amateur radio station completely from salvaged parts acquired at the local junkyard. During WWII, The Office of Strategic Services (OSS) (the forerunner of the CIA) became aware of Alís work and invited him to join them. The OSS was in desperate need of a way for their agents working in occupied Europe to communicate without being detected by the Nazi's. Thatís when Al offered up a two-way radio system design he called "Joan and Eleanor." The system permitted OSS agents to transmit a signal up to high-flying aircraft without spreading the signal out. This kept the Nazis from using triangulation to pinpoint the agents location. As head of the project, Al made the system a reality by developing a miniaturized receiver circuit. It wasnít until 1976 that the public became aware of the system when documents from the era were declassified. Of course, Al won numerous awards. These included a presidential commendation from then President Reagan in 1981, the IEEEís Century of Honors Medal in 1984, the Marconi Gold Medal in 1995, and the 2000 Lemelson-MIT lifetime achievement award. Al was also recognized by the FCC for his lifeís work. It goes without saying there were a number of other honors and awards too numerous to mention. Al never sat idle and would have nothing to do with "retirement" either. Up until his death at age 82, Al was still involved in RF and wireless design working for Orbital Sciences Corporation in Chandler, AZ. So, remember, the next time you check your pager, use your cell phone, HT, or mobile radio, remember, you have Al Gross to thank. Kevin Swesey, K6RXL Phoenix, AZ

Contributed by: Kevin D. Swesey (K6RXL)

I met Al on the phone, right away you knew he was "different", he had a spicific agenda. After several conversations, it felt weird, but I asked, "would you send me your autographed photo? " without hesitation he oblidged. Like maybe this was something that happened all the time. I guess when your that famous you get used to it. Al was driven, busy, alwasy on a project, but never too busy to be a "Pal". I admired his call, must have been a cw call. W8PAL "Wait pal" ....

Contributed by: Dan Asbjornsen (KB7UXE)

Contributed by: Dan Asbjornsen (KB7UXE)

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