Thursday, January 10, 2013

Grebe Synchrophase


Alfred H.Grebe was a radio man to the core, he manufactured radios, he founded radio stations (ex. WAHG, WBOQ) and he invented radios. His Synchrophase was a type of TRF-Neutrodyne radio receiver. Today it remains highly collectible. A working restored unit can sell for thousands of dollars. WAHG later became WABC and later WCBS. More here.

Grebe was born in 1895 in Queens, NY. His father, Henry bought him a small wireless set when he was 9 year old. His interest grew so quickly that he was more knowledgeable than his own high school teachers on the subject. He got licensed as a commercial operator at the age of 15 and became a ships radio operator.He returned 3 years later and became a radio operator at the famous Telefunken wireless station in Sayville, NY on Long Island.

He began selling amateur radio gear before WWI. He printed his first catalog in 1914. They were popular enough that he incorporated H. Grebe & Company, Inc. in January of 1920 and he opened a factory 2 years later.  The problem began when he started selling the Synchrophase in 1924. He didn't have a license to sell a unit with a Neutrodyne tuner. but Grebe had sold 150,000 radios before he was dragged into court in 1927. The Neutrodyne circuit was designed by Louis Hazeltine, and owned by Independent Radio Manufacturers. Production was halted in April of that year. More here.


Over three years Grebe had released several models with numerous improvements between redesigns. [Source here] But behind it all there was still a Neutrodyne patent violation and he lost the suit. His company weathered the ordeal. But Alfred did not. He died suddenly following stomach surgery in 1935. His company survived his passing, and by WWII they were selling a "submarine  receiver" to the US Navy.