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Pioneering in Electronics

Editorial Notes

Kenyon Kilbon of the David Sarnoff Research Center's Public Affairs staff began working on this history of RCA's research and development programs in 1956. Over the next eight years, he interviewed participants, conducted research, checked facts, and cleared text with RCA's legal department in anticipation of publication by McGraw Hill. After one delay in 1959, Kilbon updated the text and was negotiating with the publisher for a run of 10,000 copies, of which RCA would buy 7,000. It is unclear why the book was never published, but we are pleased to offer it to a broader public than the few scholars who have drawn on it in the past. The style reflects the corporate optimism of its era and the reader will find no reference to patent disputes, but it remains a highly readable history of innovation at RCA's laboratories, based on primary, if undocumented sources. Besides unpacking RCA's disproportionate number of contributions to communications and electronic technologies, Kilbon also writes with a democratic view of systems innovation--as, for example, when he reviews the many components of and contributors to RCA's monochrome television system in the 1930s. In addition his numerous examples of the Labs' technology transfers to RCA's manufacturing divisions suggest that the corporate laboratories continued to be commercially productive well into the "Golden Age" of postwar industrial research.

Thanks to Endicott College intern Bridgett Endicott and volunteer Janet Swartz, a photocopy of the final August 1964 revision has been scanned, the text converted to a Microsoft Word document, reformatted, and edited as an html file. Minor changes have been made to correct typographical errors and correct and standardize spelling. Page numbers of the original typescript are in parentheses marking the bottom of the original page. A table of contents has been added with the approximate years covered in each chapter along with the subheadings from the text. Page numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the various sections.

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