Book Spotlight: Empire of the Air: The Men Who Made Radio

Empire of the Air: The Men Who Made Radio by Tom Lewis

This book is a must read for radio aficionados, chronicling the rise and dominance of radio and the radio industry in the 20th Century through the achievements the three men who were most responsible: Lee de Forest, David Sarnoff and Edwin Howard Armstrong.

Inventor of the audion, or audio tube, de Forest is traditionally considered the father of radio. But in reality he was a clueless, self-aggrandizing jerk, who had no real idea how his invention worked; Armstrong is the unsung hero who actually figured out the science behind the audion and ushered in almost every subsequent advance in radio technology, up to and including FM; and Sarnoff was the hard-working self-made immigrant who rose through the ranks to become head of the Radio Corporation of America, responsible for getting a radio into every home and building an empire of the air.

Empire of the Air is a fascinating book about a technology that most of us take for granted these days, but which ushered in the modern electronic age.