Skip to main content
A B C D(/People and pioneers/Pioneers/) E F G H I(/People and pioneers/Pioneers/) J(/People and pioneers/Pioneers/) K L M N O P Q(/People and pioneers/Pioneers/) R S T U(/People and pioneers/Pioneers/) V W X(/People and pioneers/Pioneers/) Y(/People and pioneers/Pioneers/) Z

Armstrong, Edwin H Armstrong, Edwin H. (1890-1954)

Edwin Armstrong was the classic 'little guy' fighting 'big business', responsible for giant leaps in radio technology particularly FM radio (frequency modulation) used by broadcasters worldwide.

Armstrong was a passionate inventor who, inspired by 'The Boy's Book of Inventions', started working in his back garden in New York when he was just 14. At Columbia University he discovered how to strengthen the very weak signal made by the wireless to make it loud enough to hear without earphones.

He developed an even more powerful system during the First World War to intercept enemy radio transmissions. His inventions made him a rich man, although he was sued by Lee de Forest over ownership of the radio transmitter patents.

In 1933 he invented the revolutionary wide-band system called FM, which eliminated static noise, but once again his patent was challenged by his competitors in a long court battle.

Depressed and drained by the fight, Armstrong killed himself in 1954. Sadly, it was not until after his death that he won the court action. He now stands shoulder to shoulder with the great electrical giants and the techniques he designed are still in use today. 

fun and games

Can you beat our games? Explode equipment to see what's inside, hear the changing sounds of telecommunications, see how telecommunications designs have changed over time or send an e-postacard.

what's on

The UK's first permanent gallery dedicated to the history of information and communication technologies opens in the new Information Age gallery at London’s Science Museum.

audio history

Take a trip down memory lane with extracts of the interviews which have been recorded as part of the Connected Earth oral history programme.

featured story

100 years of automatic switching!
In 1912 the GPO installed Britain's first automatic telephone exchange in Epsom.

Discover the early days of the telephone...