Born on 25 January, exactly 143 years ago, Ernst Alexanderson hailed from Uppsala, Sweden. From an early age, he was interested in engineering, which did not stop him from learning as many as 4 foreign languages – English, German, French and Latin. As it turned out, it was his linguistic skills, instilled in him by his father, a professor of philology, which allowed Ernst to access the works of his contemporary scholars, to establish a direction for his career, and thus these very skills influenced the history of radio and television. Alexanderson began his studies at the University of Lund, from which he transferred to the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm and later he moved to the Technische Hochschule in Berlin. It was there that he became acquainted with the works of Charles Proteus Steinmetz, which influenced his decision to emigrate to the USA. In the United States, he was first employed with C&C Electric Company and then with General Electric (GE). Ernst spent much of his life working for the latter company.
Alexanderson primarily focused on high-power electrical appliances. He designed a high-frequency alternator – the only remaining, still functioning example of this machine can be admired in the historic Grimeton Radio Station, close to Varberg. The engineer also worked on drive solutions for rail transport and the navy. Nonetheless, his interests focused on communications – he conducted various studies on shortwaves and directional antennas. Thanks to his work, the first ever long-distance transmission of the human voice, carried out by Reginald Fessenden, was possible. Alexanderson’s work also contributed to the creation of radio and telephone networks, first in the United States and then around the world. He was one of the founding fathers of television as well. In 1927 he installed a television receiver in his home.
During his life, Alexanderson has been granted over 340 patents, the last of them in 1973, when the engineer was 95 years old. Although he received numerous honors and awards for his accomplishments, he did not rest on his laurels and continued his research until death.
Traces of the great Swedish engineer’s inventions are found in various fields of electronics. Nowadays, wireless communications, which Alexanderson perfected for many years of his work, has become an integral part of everyday appliances. In the TME catalogue, the range of communications modules, especially for radio communication is constantly expanding. Thanks to modern microcontrollers, they have almost limitless applications. We also offer engines cooperating with mobile networks, such as GPRS, HSPA or LTE – successors to Alexanderson’s ideas.
Sometimes, the relation between Ernst Alexanderson’s inventions and modern products is very distant. TVs no longer have mechanical parts. Nevertheless, until recently, the basic notions of transmission have remained similar. In the TME catalogue, you can still find many integrated circuits dedicated to image transmission, as well as products intended for building and servicing audio circuits.
Another field in which Alexanderson worked, has developed in a similar way. Over the last decades, trains have become largely electronic. In our online shop offer, you can find many products intended first and foremost for railway transport, including voltage converters, transmitters, cables, glands and many more.
Lastly, it is worth mentioning, that Ernst Alexanderson went down in history not only as an individual inventor, but also as a brilliant worker of global corporations. We hope that all of our clients – both companies and individuals using the TME offer in their studies, research or projects – follow in the footsteps of Alexanderson. With our small assistance, they will push the world forward, towards a brighter future..