Black Radios Home Page Radio Manufacturers Index Black Radios Document Index Historical Roots in Brief
Watkins-Johnson Home Page Supporting this Research WJ & CEI Document Index Sales & Clearance
WJ-CEI Home Page My Publications Research Material Donations Bio and Contact

Historical Roots of Black Radios

For me it started over 20 years ago with four radios.

These radios look
remarkably similar.


My curiosity was piqued after I encountered these four rare radios from different companies. They have no markings indicating competition for a government contract. I began to wonder:

Who made them and why?

The answer is a long and complex story that I am still unraveling 27 years after buying the CEI radio second from the top.

It is a story where some parts may never be told because of lingering security concerns.

The Cold War Race for the Hottest Radios

This site is my attempt to unravel and lay out a few feet of string from a gigantic and tightly wound ball. The site is not intended to be a comprehensive history of high performance receiver development for government agencies during the Cold War. That will involve much more research and should result in a book.

On this site there will be loose ends. There will be ends disappearing into the void. There will separate strands that either fall or snap as they are pursued. But many yarns that are worth telling can be found here.

The nexus between these radios starts just after WWII when an award winning National Bureau of Standards employee finds himself among the post war unemployed and teams up with a gifted and largely self taught former Coast Guard electronics technican. The rest is unrecorded history I am seeking to reassemble from fragmentary records.

Allen Clarke

Ralph Grimm

Allen S. Clarke

Ralph E. Grimm

Allen S. Clarke hired Ralph E. Grimm as his third employee when he was starting Clarke Instruments. At the time he was running the business out of his home. Though Grimm would turn out to be his most stellar hire, Clarke had a knack for hiring very talented people and nurturing their careers.

Stay tuned as there are many wonderful stories to tell.