GEC REVIEW was published until 1999 when GEC renamed to Marconi plc.
Here is an Index of Historical Papers and a full Sample Issue.
Some of those listed below are available in full text
'Marconi - 50 Years on', G.D. Speake
vol. 3, no. 3, pp. 165-170, 1987.
Marconi, the 'father of wireless',
and founder in 1897 of the first wireless company in the world, which bore his
name, died in 1937. In the same year, the Board of Marconi's company decided
to build a research laboratory at Great Baddow: this is now the GEC-Marconi
Research Centre. This paper considers some of the current areas of study, and
draws parallels between them and the work done by Marconi and his associates
during his lifetime.
'The Changing World of Avionics', G.M. Barling
vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 3-14, 1990.
This paper describes the important milestones in the development of avionics, related to Weapon
Delivery/Navigation Systems (WDNS), which have occurred from the earliest days of aviation to the present
day. A brief history of GEC Avionics helps to set into perspective the current avionic product range of the
Company, which with GEC Sensors Limited, is now part of the GEC-Marconi group. Finally a look at possible
future avionic systems is given.
'The Marconi Archives', R. Rodwell
vol. 6, no. 3, pp.172-178, 1991.
Because radio communication was started by Guglielmo Marconi, the company he founded has been
mindful of their part in the history of the electronics industry. This paper describes some of the artefacts in
the Company archives
'Guglielmo Marconi and the History of Radio - Part I', G.A. Isted
vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 45-56, 1991.
The paper covers the history and early development of radio, with particular reference to the role played by
Marconi and the company which he formed. Part I describes the early experiments that took place, Marconi's
arrival in England, and his pioneering demonstrations.
'Guglielmo Marconi and the History of Radio - Part II', G.A. Isted
vol. 7, no. 2, pp. 110-122, 1991.
This is the concluding part of the paper covering the history and early development of radio, with particular
reference to the role played by Marconi and the company which he formed. Part I described the early
experiments that took place, Marconi's arrival in England, and his pioneering demonstrations. This final part
describes some of Marconi's most significant contributions to the field of wireless communication, including
the transatlantic link and blind navigation by means of microwaves.
'Lord Rayleigh - the Last of
the Great Victorian Polymaths', A.T. Humphrey
vol. 7, no. 3, pp. 167-179, 1992.
The year 1992 saw the150th anniversary of the birth of one of the greatest figures of nineteenth century
mathematical physics, John William Strutt, Third Baron Rayleigh. Lord Rayleigh was to carry out fundamental
research into optics, elastodynamics, properties of gases, electrical standards for the ohm and ampere,
black body radiation, sound and vibration, to name but a few areas of his work. He published some 450
technical papers which, together with his book, 'The Theory of Sound', constitutes a scientific legacy of
phenomenal value, underpinning much of the work in progress today. He was awarded thirteen Honorary
Doctorates, elected President and Secretary of the Royal Society, and installed as Chancellor of Cambridge
University. His award of the Nobel prize for the isolation of argon set the seal on a distinguished career in the
'Holography: a Simple Physical Account', M.J.B. Scanlan
vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 47-57, 1992.
D. Gabor (1900-1979) is rightly credited with the discovery of holography and was awarded the Nobel prize
for it in 1971. However, his work on holography began as an attempt to improve the resolution of electron
microscope images and much of his early papers was taken up with mathematical proofs, in great detail,
that what he initially called 'a new microscopic principle' would work. Although his early papers certainly
contain the essentials of holography, they are far from easy reading, and hint at, rather than spell out, his
ideas. By going back to the work of A.J. Fresnel (1788-1827), this paper attempts to give an account of
holography which is simple and physically satisfying and which is shown to be in accordance with Gabor's
rather cryptic hints. As far as is known to the present author, such an account has not appeared elsewhere.
'Chain Home Radar - a Personal Reminiscence', M.J.B. Scanlan
vol. 8, no. 3, pp. 171-183, 1993.
This paper was written to celebrate the author's 50 years involvement in the field of radar, concentrating
mainly on his experience of the Chain Home (CH) radar system in operation in 1943. The paper attempts to
give a broader picture than that provided by the technical accounts to be found in the literature and draws
heavily on the author's personal recollections. After reviewing the 'Daventry experiment', in which radio
direction finding (R.D.F.) was first demonstrated, the author discusses the technical outline, operation,
calibration, maintenance, anti-jamming, security and training aspects of CH radar. References to more
detailed technical descriptions of CH radar are given.
'A History of Electricity in Medical Treatment', D. Fishlock
vol. 9, no. 2, pp. 113-124, 1994.
Electricity has a long history of association with medicine and as long ago as 1892 this association drew a
stern warning from Professor Silvanus P. Thompson FRS about 'quacks and rogues' overselling the
therapeutic potential of new magnetic appliances. Electro-medical apparatus based on electrostatic
generators, magnetos, induction coils, Tesla coils and other sources of electricity enjoyed an enthusiastic
following from the late-19th century until well into the present century and the discovery of modern medicines.
GEC catalogues from the 1880s onward reflect this growing popularity with their increasingly wide variety of
electro-medical apparatus. The article reviews these equipments from the standpoint of a collector who has
acquired early examples of several such equipments and has anecdotal evidence of their uses. Modern
versions of these equipments have found a modest place in contemporary medicine, but GEC's interests
today focus on medical diagnostics rather than therapy and the powerful new electrical systems for applying
NMR, nuclear, X-ray and other techniques.
'6,000 Years of Development', R.M. Cooper
vol. 9, no. 3, pp. 129-187, 1994.
Weighing is one of the key inventions in the advancement of mankind and its history can be traced back over
6,000 years. The article deals with: the development of weights, from the use of seeds through to the
kilogramme; weighing apparatus from the early Egyptian beam to the modern electronic load cell; and the
introduction of weights and measures to prevent fraud and safeguard standards. The Avery Historical
Weighing Museum, founded in 1927, is known to scale and weighing collectors world-wide as one of the
most comprehensive reference sources. It has a large collection of weighing artefacts and records - some of
of the scales and weights on display date back to the first century. The Avery Berkel factory is also the site
where Matthew Boulton, James Watt and William Murdock developed and built steam engines for use in
'Early Centimetric Ground Radars - a Personal Reminiscence', M.J.B. Scanlan
vol. 10, no. 1, pp. 40-54, 1995.
A previous paper considered the Chain Home (CH) radar system and its value to the defence of Britain in
1940. However, it later became apparent that CH was not accurate enough to direct night-fighters to within
interception range; a much smaller equipment was required that, ideally, could be mounted on an aircraft.
The advent of the cavity magnetron enabled a useful amount of power to be produced at a wavelength of 10
cm, and this opened up a whole new technological field: microwaves. In this paper, the author relates his
personal experiences of the operation and maintenance of centimetric radar installations, and of the
associated RAF training courses, until the end of his RAF career, in India, in 1946.
'A Legacy of Caring - the History
of Picker International', A. Palermo
vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 103-119, 1995.
The paper documents the history of Picker International, one of the world's leading medical firms. Traced are
the historical beginnings, including acquisitions of companies directly related to the X-ray business, Picker's
direct and indirect involvement with World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War and, most recently,
the Desert Storm War of Kuwait. Also included is some history on the acquisition of Picker by others
including its most recent suitor, GEC, in 1981.
'Light from the Darkness', R.J. Marquis
vol. 10, no. 3, pp. 161-175, 1995.
The electro-optic business in Edinburgh started up in 1943 to produce gyro gunsights for RAF aircraft. After
the war the Company branched out into lasers and electro-optic (E-O) pointing and stabilization systems.
This led to a production order for a sophisticated airborne E-O equipment, the Laser Ranger & Marked
Target Seeker, which currently equips nearly all RAF ground attack aircraft. The Company went on to
establish an international reputation in the field of advanced electro-optics and laser technology. This led to
the development of the Thermal Imaging Airborne Laser Designator pod - TIALD, which was accelerated into
service during the Gulf War and used to great effect with the Tornado strike aircraft. This paper describes the
development of the military electro-optics business in Edinburgh over the last half century.
'Guglielmo Marconi and Early Systems of Wireless Communication',
vol. 11, no. 1, pp. 37-55, 1996.
The paper is based on the Chairman's address to the South East Centre of the Institution of Electrical
Engineers in 1984. It details the various forms of communication without wires that were in use in the period
before Marconi, going on to relate the early days of Marconi's experimental work, the demonstrations, and the
first few years of the Marconi Company. Much of the material has been obtained from a study of the original
documents, many of which are unpublished, held in the Archives at Great Baddow.
'The History of the Soho Foundry', R.M. Cooper
vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 114-119, 1996.
The Soho Foundry is a key element in the history of the industrial revolution. It was created in 1796 by
Matthew Boulton and James Watt to build steam engines. The development of manufacturing on the site
mirrors the development of invention, from steam to electronics and computer technology. The Soho Foundry
was purchased in 1896 by W & T Avery (now Avery Berkel) for their scale-making business and thus
celebrated a double anniversary in 1996.
'75 Years in Control: a Profile of Satchwell Control Systems', M.D. Clapp
vol. 11, no. 3, pp. 152-158, 1996.
The largest buildings controls company in the UK, Satchwell Control Systems offers an extensive range of
products from valves, actuators and environment sensors through to sophisticated building management
systems which utilize the latest computer technologies. Despite the highly adverse market conditions which
continue to prevail in the UK and European construction industries, Satchwell continues to expand by the
aggressive development of its business in overseas markets, notably Europe, the Middle East and
Asia-Pacific region. Sustained investment in product development to meet ever changing market
requirements and the recent introduction of the latest generation of Building Management System, BAS
2800, is a key part of the strategy to become a major player in world markets. This continues a strong
tradition of pioneering technical innovation which has been pre-eminent throughout the Company's 75-year
history. This article charts not only that history, but also highlights some of those technological achievements
which include many world firsts.
'The Enterprises of Willans and Robinson (1880-1919)', J.V.G. Williams
vol. 11, no. 3, pp. 159-172, 1996.
The 'core business' of Willans and Robinson, founded in 1880, and their successors GEC ALSTHOM
Turbine Generators Limited, has always been steam prime movers - first steam engines and then steam
turbines. Major related products were gas and oil engines. Other diversifications into such fields as boilers,
pumps and even steel-making were tried, although not always with success. These and other enterprises
are explored in this article. It has been said that W. & R. were ever strong in design and manufacturing
techniques, but lacked a vigilant and prudent financial policy. In 1919 they became part of English Electric,
which in turn, in 1968, became part of GEC. 1997 marks the centenary of the establishment of Willans
Works, Rugby, now part of GEC ALSTHOM Turbine Generators Limited.
'Volta's Electrophorus - the First Electric Generator?', P. Ghiggino
no. 1, pp. 48-54, 1997.
The paper presents the first English translation of a
letter sent by Alessandro Volta to one of his friends in 1775. The work described
in the letter concerns the development of the 'electrophorus' - a machine capable
of producing a replenishable supply of static electricity by induction, rather
than friction. The electrophorus predates Volta's invention of the electric battery
by some twenty-five years and was the forerunner of the Wimshurst and Van de Graaff
generators. The letter is currently part of the Henry Willard Lende Collection,
held in San Antonio, Texas.
'The Coherer Era - the Original Marconi System of Wireless Telegraphy',
T. W. Pegram, R. B. Molyneux-Berry, and A. G. P. Boswell
vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 83-93, 1997.
The paper reviews the early work of Guglielmo Marconi, concentrating on the technical performance of his
equipment. System elements - aerials, transmitters and receivers - are considered in turn. Four antenna
configurations, similar to those used in the transatlantic experiment, have been modelled and analysed.
Coherers, both original Marconi devices and present-day replicas, have been characterized. Some
comments on the only known photographs of the Poldhu aerial are also provided.
'Letters from Guglielmo Marconi to his Father, 1896-1898', G. Marconi
vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 94-106, 1997.
This article presents a collection of letters sent by Guglielmo Marconi to his father, in Italy, in the weeks,
months and years after coming to England to establish himself and his ideas on wireless telegraphy. The
letters provide an insight into Marconi's technical and business acumen, and into his relationship with his
family. These letters now form part of the Henry Willard Lende Collection, San Antonio, Texas, USA.
'Popov versus Marconi: the Centenary of Radio', R. Barrett
vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 107-112, 1997.
This article is based upon a demonstration lecture `Popov versus Marconi' which was presented in the
Telford lecture theatre at the GEC-Marconi Research Centre, Chelmsford, UK, on the 12th November 1996.
The aim of the presentation was to examine the claims of priority of the invention of radio communication,
Popov or Marconi and, by the construction of working models, to verify the operation and the limitations of the
apparatus and the early experiments.
'The New Telegraphy
- Extracts from an Interview with Signor G. Marconi', H.J.W. Dam
vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 113-116, 1997.
In March 1897, 'The Strand Magazine' published the text of an interview with Guglielmo Marconi by H.J.W.
Dam. This interview probably took place during late 1896. As part of our tribute to Marconi, we present here
some extracts from this interview, giving an interesting insight into the state of knowledge of wireless
telegraphy at that time and the likely areas of application - including some quite candid comments
concerning the perceived military uses to which 'The New Telegraphy' might be put. These extracts are taken
from a complete copy of the article which resides in the GEC Archives.
'The Ruston & Hornsby Story', R.E. Hooley
vol. 12, no. 3, pp. 169-179, 1997.
1997 marks 140 years of this great engineering company - and 100 years since the death of its founder,
Joseph Ruston. After completing a commercial apprenticeship with a Sheffield firm of cutlers, Joseph
brought a keen business head into a small wheelwrights workshop at Lincoln. During his 40 years with the
Company, he built it up from 25 men producing a small range of agricultural implements, to an engineering
factory covering 20 acres and employing 2350. After Joseph Ruston's death in 1897, the Company continued
to flourish, with a world-wide market for its steam, gas, petrol and oil engines, thrashers, excavators, pumps,
mills, locomotives, etc. Rustons of Lincoln united with Hornsbys of Grantham at the end of World War I and
during World War II attained a peak of 10000 employees. A bold step was taken in 1946, when Rustons
entered the industrial gas turbine business. English-Electric, attracted by Ruston's successful range of oil
engines, acquired the Company in 1966, but it was the infant gas turbine division that flourished into the
present highly successful European Gas Turbines Ltd. - an Anglo-French company in the GEC ALSTHOM
'Built by Vulcan - the Story of the Vulcan Works', M. Siberry
vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 38-57, 1998.
The paper traces the history of the Vulcan Foundry, Newton-le-Willows from the time of its opening in 1830 to
the present day. This encompasses various partnerships, mergers and re-organizations, involving
individuals such as Stephenson, Ruston and Hornsby, and companies such as English Electric and GEC
ALSTHOM. Much of the early history is concerned with steam locomotive manufacture, but since the early part
of the twentieth century, the Vulcan Foundry has been producing diesel engines for applications in the fields
of rail traction, marine propulsion, and power generation. The paper provides numerous examples of
products manufactured throughout this period.
'Silicon Technology: the 1950s versus 1998', J. Richer
vol. 13, no. 2, pp. 113-122, 1998.
The transistor era started in 1948 with devices built using germanium. Silicon technology started in the
mid-1950s and this paper describes the initial decade of development when all the key processes were
discovered. The stages are described as seen by one of the UK development teams, starting from the basic
wafer material and developing diffusion, surface patterning, photolithography, metallization, packaging,
testing etc. This early technology is then compared with the skills needed today to make integrated circuits
with one million transistors, fully interconnected and performing a complex electronic function throughout a
long working life, at low cost. Finally the key factors bounding further growth are indicated.
'Forty Years of Marconi Radar from 1946 to
R.W. Simons and J.W. Sutherland
vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 172-189, 1998.
The article starts with a broad review of the organizations which came together to form Marconi Radar
Systems Limited and its subsequent commercial, technical and corporate development. A survey of the
evolution of radar markets and the factors influencing business, and in particular the systems approach, is
followed by a detailed account of Marconi's major contribution to Air Defence in the UK, NATO and elsewhere
overseas. Private Venture (that is, Company-funded) development of radar systems is described with
particular emphasis on the S600 Series and MARTELLO. Passive Detection, a system to pin-point accurately
large numbers of 'jamming' aircraft in an air defence environment, was a highly successful, but largely
unknown contributor to UK Defence for over 20 years. Two other significant markets - Air Traffic Control and
Naval Systems - complete the forty year story. Marconi, during this period, was the main supplier of radar,
weapon systems and electronic control equipment to the Royal Navy.
'The History of the General Electric Company up to
1900 - Part 1'
vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 47-54, 1999.
During 1920, Hugo Hirst gave a
series of lectures to the GEC Debating Society, of which he was Chairman at that
time. During these talks he described the events that took place during the five
years leading up to the formation of the General Electric Company in 1886, through
to the year 1900. These lectures were recorded in shorthand and subsequently transcribed
into typescript. The final version, with annotation by Hirst himself, now resides
in the GEC Archive collection. In this paper, which is divided between successive
issues of GEC Review, we present selected extracts from these lectures, some 100
years after the events which he described took place.
'The History of the General
Electric Company up to 1900 - Part 2'
vol. 14, no. 2, pp. 147-157, 1999.
During 1920, Hugo Hirst gave a series of lectures to the GEC Debating Society, of which he was Chairman at
that time. During these talks he described the events that took place during the five years leading up to the
formation of the General Electric Company in 1886, through to the year 1900. These lectures were recorded
in shorthand and subsequently transcribed into typescript. The final version, with annotation by Hirst himself,
now resides in the GEC Archive collection. In this paper, which is divided between successive issues of GEC
Review, we present selected extracts from these lectures, some 100 years after the events which he
described took place.
"GEC" refers to the former General Electric Company, p.l.c. of the UK which had no connection with GE, General Electric of the US.
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