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Gross, Al, d.2000


Biographical Note

Al Gross was born in Toronto, Ontario but was raised in Cleveland, Ohio. Known as the father of wireless communications, Gross invented the walkie-talkie in 1938 at age 20 and by 1941 the Office of Strategic Services (now known as the CIA) was eager to develop a lightweight, portable communications system for air-to-ground contact. The OSS recruited Gross and he devised the "Joan-Eleanor System" using Hertzian radio waves which were virtually impossible to intercept even from behind emeny lines. Gross' invention was a huge success and was praised by the US Joint Chiefs of Staff as being one of the most successful wireless intelligence gathering methods ever employed.

After the war, Gross formed the Citizens Radio Corporation and sold his units to the public, mostly to farmers and the US Coast Guard. In 1949 Gross had another breakthrough invention, the telephone pager. That same year Gross attended a medical conference in Philadelphia to introduce the pager system to doctors. Unfortunately, many of the doctors were apprehensive of the device stating it would interfere with their leisure time or upset their patients. The pager never caught on for Gross, proving he was decades ahead of his time.

Gross continued to invent for his entire lifespan, compiling 12 patents. But Gross' patents expired long before the world was ready for pagers, cell phones, and CB radio. Instead of reaping the monetary benefits of his inventions, Gross is rich in awards and recognitions. Most recently, Gross became the sixth person to be awarded the Lemelson-MIT Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000. Eight months later on December 28, 2000, Gross died at his Arizona home.

Found in 3 Collections and/or Records:

Al Gross Papers

 Digital Record
Identifier: Ms2001_011_GrossAlPapers_Photographs

Al Gross Papers, 1909-2000 (Ms2001-011)

 Digital Record
Identifier: Ms2001-011

Al Gross Papers

Identifier: Ms-2001-011
Abstract The Al Gross papers are comprised of the following series: Employment, Publications, Inventions and Patents, Awards and Achievements, Personal Material, Technical Data, Radio Material, Government, Subject Files, and Oversize Materials. The collection also includes Gross' book collection and electronic parts. This collection contains materials relating to the significant contributions Al Gross made in the advancement of wireless technology. The collection provides a detailed look at the...
Dates: 1909 - 2000