Black-Radios
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New on Black Radios

CEI logoApril 2, 2016 - Added a scan of my article on the CEI RS-111 receiver used in Watergate. The radio that James McCord purchased with $3000 in cash from Richard Nixon's Committee to Re-Elect the President. This can be found on the publications page.

Nems logoApril 2, 2016 - Added a scan of my article on Allen S. Clarke, the founder of Clarke Instruments, President of Nems-Clarke and a behind the scenes founder and mentor to Communications Electronics, Inc, which eventually became the Gaithersburg branch of Watkins-Johnson. This can be found on the publications page.

reaction logo
Dec 2, 2015 - Partial schematics for the Reaction Instruments 685A VHF Receiver (reverse engineering courtesy of Peter Gottlieb). See the M/A-Com page or the Black Radios Document Index for the links.

adams-russell-logo
Dec 2, 2015 - For Reaction Instruments and Micro-Tel fans. 59 brochures for equipment from when these companies were divisions of Adams-Russell (which soon became a division of M/A-Com). See the M/A-Com page or the Black Radios Document Index for the links.

Macomsub

Dec 2, 2015 - For Reaction Instruments and Micro-Tel fans. 13 brochures for equipment from when these companies were divisions of M/A-Com. See the M/A-Com page or the Black Radios Document Index for the links.

Racal logo

Nov 20, 2015 - Full manual for Racal RA6217E added. This is the Air Force TO 31R2-2URR62-2 manual for the R-1555/URR-62. See the Black Radios Document Index for the link.

Mason logo
July 17th, 2014 - Four Mason sales brochures added and a Mason price list from 1986. Mason documents are extremely rare. Please contact me if you have any you'd like to share. See the Black Radios Document Index for the links.
ACL logo
July 16th, 2014 - Three pages from an undated Astro Communication Labs catalog have been added. See the Black Radios Document Index for the link.

Please Help - Research Material Sought

Do you have or know where to find newsletters, annual reports, sales literature and other documents from black radio manufacturers?

Publications like these contain valuable information for the research I am doing. Interviews are great, but nothing pins down dates, locations and other specifics like these publications. I only need scans of the documents. If you can help, please let me know.
watkins-johnson at terryo org

chips and sparks newsletter
Chips N' Sparks published for many years. CEI founder
Ralph Grimm was the photographer for early issues.

DEI annual report
DEI did fine work, but didn't publish much.

Temco Tidings

Temco became part of Ling-Temco-Vought after being purchased by James Ling during his groundbreaking foray into LBO financed acquisitions. The name survived briefly as an electronics division.

LTV News
LTV built surveillance systems using equipment custom built by Nems-Clarke, Communication Electonics, Inc, Collins and others.
E System Ink
E-Systems was the company name after LTV and before L-3 Com.

Mason A2 brochure
Mason was a custom shop and produced very little documentation.



Vitro Communicator
Vitro was swallowed Nems-Clarke in a well orchestrated move.

Black Radios Kept the Cold War from Heating Up

In today's connected world, memories are fading of the time when much of the planet was far away and information about other countries was uncommon. In addition, the Cold War and the Iron Curtain shrouded much of the world in difficult to penetrate mystery. Black radios played a vital role in gathering timely information useful for determining appropriately measured responses. In many instances, black radios radios played a significant role in world affairs, usually without their existence being revealed.

A significant number of the black radios developed during the Cold War were devoted to locating information hidden in radio transmissions. In the days before the computer, cryptology was a crude and cumbersome affair. Black radios played a key role in both hiding and extracting information in progressively more complex radio signals.

The rise of the computer augmented cryptology significantly and changed the use of the radio spectrum but did not alter the need for black radios. Signal transmissions must be captured before the cryptologists can go to work. In addition, accurately determining physical location through direction finding remains a priority.

The information on the pages stops more or less at the end of the Cold War. The need for black radios did not end with the Cold War, but I needed a logical end point, one that avoids areas where the equipment and its uses are still sensitive information.

 

Did you work for a company that made radios for the government during the Cold War?

If you worked for Clarke Instruments, Nems-Clarke, Defense Electronics, Inc, Communication Electronics, Inc, Watkins Johnson, Astro Communication Labs, Aiken, Norlin, General Electronics Laboratories, Ling Temco Vought, Mason, Microtel, Regco, or if you worked for any other Watkins-Johnson subsidiary, acquisition, spin off or competitor, please contact me: watkins-johnson at terryo dot org

If you have any catalogs, sales literature, company newsletters, manuals or other documentation you would be willing to share,
please contact me: watkins-johnson at terryo dot org.

 

About this Site

This is a public window to my ongoing research into the history of American telemetry and surveillance equipment for COMINT, SIGINT, ELINT, TELINT, missile, satellite and spacecraft communications and other previously classified uses of cutting edge radios.


A note on "Black Radios"

I coined the term "black radios" because no existing compact expression encompasses the range of radios developed and used in the Cold War. Referring to surveillance, SIGINT, COMINT, ELINT, TELINT... collectively or individually gets unwieldy and confusing. In addition, some these radios that were designed for one purpose found their niche in another as targets were pursued.

The US Government's investment in black radios drove the development of American radio technology from just after the end of WWII to the present. We wouldn't have cell phones, wireless internet and a wide range of radio related gadgets today if Cold War radio development hadn't accelerated the production of advanced radio equipment.