Ernst F.W. Alexanderson

Swedish-American electrical engineer Ernst F.W. Alexanderson (1878 – 1975) was a pioneer in early radio and television development. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1902 and worked for the General Electric Company under Charles P. Steinmetz.

Alexanderson invented a high-frequency alternator that converted direct current into alternating current, making modulated (voice) radio broadcasts practical and revolutionizing radio communications. It was used to broadcast the world’s first-ever radio program with voice, on Christmas Eve 1906.

Other ground-breaking experiments involved transmission of pictures by both radio and television. In 1927, the first experimental television broadcast in the United States was Alexanderson’s GE Plot home. He gave the first public demonstration of television on May 22, 1930 on the Proctors Vaudeville Theatre stage.

For his lifetime of engineering advances Alexanderson was awarded 345 U.S. patents and an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Medal of Honor.