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British Industrial History

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Charles Samuel Franklin

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Charles Samuel Franklin (1879-1964)

Worked with Guglielmo Marconi on the Marconi-Franklin beam as an aid to navigation of ships.[1]

1964 Obituary[2]

"WE regret to record the death on December 10th of Mr. Charles Samuel Franklin, whose service of forty years with The Marconi Company Ltd. was notable not only for his development of the beam system of longrange point-to-point radio communication, but also for a great variety of inventions in his chosen sphere of work. It was characteristic of the man that when complimented on his part in developments which can unhesitatingly be described as historic, he would always share the credit with his team of research workers.

Franklin was born in 1879, the youngest of a family of thirteen. During his studies at Finsbury Technical College, he was a pupil of Professor Sylvanus B. Thompson. His first work with the Wireless Telegraph and Signal Company Ltd., as the Marconi Company was then called, was the assembly of radio receivers using coherer detectors. He was later appointed to the radio station at the Needles, and during the Boer War was sent to South Africa with a contingent of engineers whose function was to assist the British forces with radio communication.

After the war Franklin was concerned with the fitting of wireless to the early Cunarders and made several voyages himself as a wireless operator. His first close contact with Marconic came in 1902, during the second phase of the trans-Atlantic radio experiments, when he accompanied him to America and recorded on tape signals received from Poldhu in Cornwall. From 1904 to 1905 Franklin was demonstrating and installing radio equipment in Russia. After his return he worked directly under Marconi at Poldhu on the further development of trans-Atlantic radio as a commercial proposition. He was responsible in all for sixty-five Patents, beginning in 1902 with the disc capacitor, followed by ganged tuning and variable coupling devices, and the regenerative valve circuit.

It was in 1917 that Franklin filed the first of his Patents for short wave communication, with which his name is so strongly associated. They include the Franklin master oscillator, the series-fed aerial, the coaxial feeder, and, in 1923, the flat type aerial and reflector, which were a decisive step forward in beam radio. He designed his first beam transmitter, the FWBI, in 1924. By 1927 all the Empire beam stations were in successful operation, and there are still some of Franklin's FWBI transmitters in traffic. These achievements sprang from his successful tests on fifteen metres between London and Birmingham at the end of the first world war, an undertaking of which Marconi was sceptical and is said to have bet five pounds on its probable failure, paying up with good grace when his doubts were disproved. Franklin was then put in charge of the independent research department of the Marconi Co at Poldhu, and while there achieved a success as significant as that of the first trans-Atlantic radio signals by making contact on thirty metres with Argentina, Brazil, Canada, the U.S.A. and Australia.

After Poldhu was closed down, Franklin's last major work was the television aerial and feeder system at the Alexandra Palace. This was not his only contact with broadcast entertainment, for he had designed the first transmitter for the B.B.C. station 2LO. Franklin retired in 1939 and was appointed a research consultant to the Marconi company. He was made a C.B.E. in 1949, and in the same year was awarded a Faraday gold medal."

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Engineer 1925/09/11
  2. The Engineer 1964 Jul-Dec