Special Exhibit:

Walt Good’s Last Transmitter

(Click on any of the images on this page to see a larger version)

This is the last of the many historic transmitters owned by Dr. Walter A. Good over the years. It was given to us by his widow, Joyce Good. At that time this is all that was left of his equipment other than modern (plastic) radios. Everything else had found its way to other museums, or been disposed of, long ago. This transmitter appears to have never been used. Why do you think he kept this transmitter and only this transmitter? We have one clue.

Walt Good was, to say the least, one of the giants of R/C history. With his brother William, he is credited with making the first radio controlled flight. The model they used to do this, the “Big Guff”, is at the Smithsonian Institution. The history made by Walt Good is far too voluminous to be set forth here. We plan to include it under the “W. Good” Section in the manufacturers listing and in his induction account. We’re not letting any secrets out here since, when it comes to Walt Good, the question isn’t If he will be inducted into the Radio Control Hall of Fame®, but When. Since inductions are not made in order of importance, or chronologically, this could be at any time.

Beacon Electronics

This transmitter was produced by Beacon Electronics Co., Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. Beacon was owned by Harry Geyer and his partner James Podolny. Beacon built these transmitters from September 1946 until early 1949. They were sold individually or as part of a complete system including a single tube receiver and rubber-band powered escapement actuator. The Good brothers designed the entire system and received a royalty for each one sold. Slightly over 1,000 of the complete systems were sold.

Here is the brochure Beacon used to sell these systems in 1946 (from the Encyclopedia of Radio Control)

FCC “Attacks” Beacon

Beacon was effectively put out of business by the Federal Communication Commission (“FCC”). After producing its R/C systems for about a year and a half, Beacon received a box of red tags from the FCC and was ordered to attach a tag to the antenna posts of each transmitter offered for sale. The tags warned that anyone who bought one of these transmitters was subject to paying a fine of $5,000.00, or prison for 3 years, if they used it without a HAM radio operator’s license. Imagine having to sell a product with such a threatening label.

Beacon dutifully attached the warning tags and braced for a plunge in sales. Surprisingly, there was little change. But sales fell off after the FCC, and then the AMA, announced that a new citizens band was going to be introduced for RC that would not require a license. Many hobbyists decided to wait for the new license-free radios to arrive. Sales fell dramatically.

Jim Podolny moved on to make much more money in the emerging technology called “Television” or “TV”. Harry Geyer tried for awhile to continue alone but it became increasingly an uphill struggle to sell the Beacon units. Eventually Harry accepted an important position at Westinghouse’s new atomic power division and Beacon was history.