UPCOMING PRESENTATIONS /
In the last century, trons became a ubiquitous part of people’s new modern lives firstly through radio: the first real vacuum tubes were Irving Langmuir’s “kenotron” and “pliotron” invented around 1915. The name of the kenotron was explicitly drawn from the Greek roots of “keno” for “empty” and “tron” for “tool.” Subsequently, trons famously helped win World War Two. Heralded as the most important invention of the war, the resonant cavity magnetron —no, not the atomic bomb—was developed at the University of Manchester by Mark Elephant. The miracle of the magnetron was that it was a cavity resonator able to deliver ten times the power for microwave transmitters. It sat at the heart of every radar set. Later, Radiation Laboratory engineers at M.I.T. designed the hydrogen thyrotron modulator for Project Cindy – the name for a high-resolution radar set for smaller ships, like PT-boats, for ship search work. In short, trons starred in the Battle of Britain and the war in the Pacific, and assisted in the rescue of a young J.F.K.
Probably the most famous and certainly most influential tron is the Arbitron. The Arbitron is the ratings system to monitor home radio and television habits. “The new system is called Arbitron,” the New York Times reported in 1957, “a promotionally clever word that probably will attract the fancy of comedians and quipsters.”
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