I’ve written before about the origins of Rice radio but I’d never gotten any real sense of what they did with the transmitter that was given by Howard Hughes. Leafing through some Threshers from the 1920s I found some articles that began to bring it into focus. At first they sent messages back and forth to other universities. What the content of those messages might be seems to be lost to the ages. Here’s a story from 1920. Note the name of the president of the Radio Club–Athna Ellis:
A few years later things had really gotten rolling. In 1923 the Rice station began broadcasting live concerts from campus and at least some people were listening to them:
I was particularly interested in one of the songs the Rice orchestra performed. I’d never heard of Aggravatin’ Papa but I immediately grasped the concept. It was a pretty big hit in 1923:
A few issues later another report of a Rice broadcast gives more information about the station itself:
A.B. Ellis is, of course, Athna Ellis ’23 and I quickly found him in the incredibly thorough 1921 edition of “Amateur Radio Stations of the United States” put out by the U.S. Department of Commerce. His address is listed as Palestine, which puzzled me until I looked him up in the Campanile and discovered that was his home town. Here he is:
I was quite surprised (although I probably shouldn’t have been) to discover that I recognized several other people who operated amateur stations in Houston in 1923, including Hughes and Jack Pollard ’25.
And as I’m looking at this right now I begin to wonder if this is the A.B. Ellis who designed many homes in Southgate and Old Braeswood in the 1930s and ’40s. However, I’m not going down that rabbit hole tonight. Maybe tomorrow night, though.