Clipped From Mt. Vernon Register-News
Original 'Boy Wonder of Electronics' Traces Long Career From AC to X-Ray •y DICK KLIINER NEA Stiff Corr*>pond«nt MEW YORK — When William Dubilier was 12, his home was robbed. The thief didn't know it, but he did mankind a great service. The robbeiy turned Dubilier into an inventor, a 50- year career that has resulted in hundreds of inventions— starting with a home-made burglar alarm. And now, 500 patents later, Dubilier is being honored with the first Gano Medal to bo awarded by the Cooper Union Alumni Association. It's a tribute to his "outstanding professional achievement." Dubilier's greatest creation was the mica condenser, which made possible radios ir. airplanes, boats, trains —and eliminated (he need for batteries. The conden .'ier industry' he started now employ.^ over 100,000 people and does in annual business in the hundreds of millions. "I was working on a wircle.'^s telephone," he says, "and the only condensers then in me wei*e big glass jars. They were too big for the set I wanted to build, and they'd break in an airplane. So I had to find something else." •o- -o- •»• He knew tiiat mica was a better insulator than glass, but all the textbooks said it couldn't be used in a conductor. "Those two facts were contradictions," Dubilier says. "It took me several years to figure out how it could be done, but I finally did it." While still in his 20s, he demonstrated his wireless telephone to the British admiralty. They asked him what kind of a condenser he used. He held up his little invention, then slammed it to the ground. "See, it doesn't break." he said. All British battleshps used Dubilier's radio during World War I. He was one of the original "boy wonders" of electronics. An East Side New York boy, he'd gone from home-built burglar alarm to being an "eltcrical contractor" at 15. He installed burg- Jar alarms in neighborhood stores —"one iob a week was better BALLROOM nx. JUNE Uih \MLLIA ,>r DUBILIER: By wireless phone, the first disc jockey. !h.=in the S3 I'd been making de- liverin.g groceries." -o- -o- -o- Then, at 16, he saw Maixwni demonstrate iiis radio. From then on, he was fascinated with the .i^ubjeet, .A.t 23, he built a wireless tplephone in Seattle that reached Tacoma and startled the wits out of West Coast telegraphers—his test voice transmissions were coming in on their telegraph sets. There was speculation in the paper as to whether the mystery transmissions were from Mai-s, He hitched up a phonograph to his telephone and began playing records. An enterprising Seattle amusement park operator charged 10 cents to listen, and Dublier unwittingly was the first disc .iockey. This was 1911. Emissaries of the Tsar saw his demonstrations and mduced him —with a SoO.OOO inducement — to come lo St, Petersburg and install a wireless telephone there. He went, but got tired of the court graft and blackmail and "escaped" to I.^ndon, The Russians sent secret police to kidnap him and bring him back, but he got the secret policemen drunk and called Scotland Yard. Tn '.'55, he was back in Russia— this time, at the in\ntation bf the Soviet government. But he still couldn't stand the Russian attitude, and quit after five weeks. Besides, he had to attend a Rus sian scientific meeting and listen while a Soviet scientist w.-is introduced as the in\'entor of the condenser—his invention, •o- -o- -o"I asked the director how they had the nerve to do that," he said. "And they told "ne. 'This gives them encouragement'.' Between and ;iriei' his Fviissian e.xcui'sions, Diitiilier has h e e n busily inventing and traxeliiic. He's just made his lO.'^th civssing of the Atlantic, ,\nd liis inventions keep piling up. lie 's currently perfecting >i method for cold uelding. .-Vniong his other achievements: one of the first electric heaters; the first airplane radio; a submarine detector; the fii-st AC-DC radio: the first inexpensive dental X-ray; and dozens of otliers. Some of his inventions have been technically sound but practical flops. One of his bi.ggcst di.s- appointments was a new kind of toy electric train track. Vtis two sons were great model railroad fans, but over one summer their track rusted. So he invented a new kind—rust-proof, bendable, more i-ealistic. "Rut the electric train eom- pan.v," he sa\s, "told me t'ney made their profits on track replacement. So they said no, they weren't interested." Now 67, Dubilier is a s h o r t, gray-haired, pleasant-face'd man with the air of somebody's favorite uncle. He still does some research, although he's cut down his activities. On the u'all in his office is this motto: "The Alibi Bird— lives in the land of empty promises, flies backward, sits on the eggs of opportunity and hatches out only hard luck." Dubilier has a!wa.\s flown forward. Offer Duty To Reserve Officers By associated PfC5^ WASHINGTON — aiie Navy said today it will accept up to 5,00Q qtjalified reserve offifors for limited tours of duty starting July 1. This nuinbei- is douhl.-' tlie quota during the current fiscal year. The Bureau of Personnel said the duty tours will be for two, three or four vcars.