The Man Who Invented Stereo
August 7, 2008 9:10 AM   Subscribe

In a single 1931 document, electrical engineer Alan Blumlein patented stereo records, stereo movie sountracks and surround sound. His equipment was used to make some of the first stereo recordings at EMI's Abbey Road studios - several decades before the technology came into popular use. Blumlein went on to pioneer 405 line TV (the first wholly electronic format which won out over John Logie Baird's rival system) and to produce the equipment that made the first outside TV broadcast possible. At the outbreak of World War 2 he was a key architect of the secret H2S radar project. Unfortunately he was killed in a plane crash while testing the technology and the whole incident was kept secret. Hence he remains an obscure figure despite his achievements. A recent BBC Radio 4 program contains a lot of the archive stereo footage and tells his story.
posted by rongorongo (5 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
What? What do you mean this isn't an obit thread? He's dead, isn't he?
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 9:51 AM on August 7, 2008

. .
posted by blue_beetle at 10:15 AM on August 7, 2008

I like posts that tell a story in a few sentences like this. Nicely done.
posted by kiltedtaco at 10:57 AM on August 7, 2008

From Jack Copeland's article on Blumlein:
About this time he developed some circuit design principles to make circuit behaviour less dependent on valve characteristics. The current passed by a valve with a fixed bias varied from valve to valve so much that sometimes, on a production line, valves were selected for particular characteristics. Blumlein developed the principle of defined current circuits in which the valve's current was defined either by a cathode resistance to a considerably lower potential, or by employing negative feedback. These principles together with the long-tailed pair were patented in about 1936. Upon these principles were built other circuit ideas including the wide-band DC coupling. During the war these principles survived the rigours of quantity production in a factory under military specifications and, after the war. were used in the design of the ACE Pilot Model, the Deuce and the ACE.
So he provided the basis for one of the first digital computers as well.
posted by arruns at 4:35 PM on August 7, 2008

Thanks a lot for this — highly interesting.
posted by Wolof at 9:35 PM on August 7, 2008

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