Celebrating the Life and Accomplishments of Alfred J. Gross
Alfred J. Gross is a man who literally changed the world by making communication portable. He is what one would call a pioneer in the field of mobile, wireless communication and invented an early version of the walkie-talkie radio that would revolutionize the way we, as a society, communicate. Other vital inventions attributed to Gross include early versions of CB (citizens’ ban) radios, telephone pagers, and cordless telephones.
Early Life of Alfred J. Gross
Born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Gross grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and became enthralled with radios at the age of nine after discovering the radio room while traveling Lake Erie on a steamboat. He later transformed the basement of his home into a radio station using scavenged junkyard parts. By the age of 16, Gross had earned an amateur radio license and selected his callsign (W8PAL) which he would continue to use throughout his life.
During World War II, Gross was loosely involved in a project that built a two-way air-to-ground communication system for the organization that would later become the CIA. It was after the war that Gross set out to change the world. The FCC has allocated frequencies for use as personal radio services, called the Citizens’ Radio Service Frequency Band. In response, Gross created Gross Electronics Co and was the first to receive FCC approval in 1948.
In 1949, Gross developed the first telephone pager system. It is the same technology used for devices today the open garage doors. He also adapted his two-way radio technology into one-way communications signaling for cordless remote telephones.
In 1950, Gross attempted to interest telephone companies in mobile telephony though none at the time were interested and that technology would wait another few decades before becoming a household phenomenon.
Gross was not deterred, however, and continued inventing in fields of microwave and communications until his death in 2000 at the age of 82.
A Lifetime of Accomplishments
Some would say that Alfred J. Gross is responsible for some of the most prolific advances in communications we enjoy today. During his lifetime he has received many rewards for his accomplishments including:
- IEEE Centennial Medal for his works in VHF and UHF mobile radio in 1984
- Eta Kappa Nu’s Vladimir Karapetoff Eminent Members’ Award in 1998
- Edwin Howard Armstrong Achievement Award in 1999
- IEEE Millennium Medal in 2000
Some might even say that Alfred J. Gross was the father of the Push to Talk concept that is so beneficial to communication for businesses, schools, groups, and more today.