See the one on the right? The Archer “Space Patrol”? Yeah, I had it. With the Morse Code key and everything! It was awesome! My buddies and me could run around in our army man gear and fight off Commies invading Southern California.
40 years before me and my buddies were fighting commies, our boys in the armed forces were facing a real threat. Nazis, the evil Emperor in Japan, and a Fascist in Italy were trying to take over the world. Carrier pigeons and smoke signals weren’t going to cut it in this new era of mechanized warfare. Troops were moving faster, and their communications needed to keep up. So, the boys at Motorola came up with the bright idea of giving guys a “hand held” radio that could receive and transmit voices through the ether.
Enter the SCR-300A “walkie-talkie”. While there had been other radio sets up to this point, they were usually truck-mounted. The SCR-300A came in an ultraportable backpack that the radioman would wear while the CO would call in air support with the handset.
The story doesn’t end there, though. Since the mid-1930s, Alfred Gross had been working on a hand-held radio and sold his design to the Office of Strategic Services. It was a top secret program that connected men on the ground behind enemy lines with bombers and attack planes.
But wait! There’s more! A Canadian, Donald Hings, created a handie-talkie in 1940. This radio was the result of another top secret program, and put the power of communication in troops hands by 1942.
No matter who you believe to be the first — whether it’s nerds in a lab at Motorola, or a guy tinkering in his garage then running to the CIA’s forerunner with a design, or a Canadian making a handie-talkie while laying on his moose rug drinking a Molson — it’s pretty irrelevant. Men’s lives were saved in WW2 and the Commies didn’t dare invade my neighborhood in 1985.
[Image Credits: Public Domain]