City Cast

95 Years Since Westinghouse Made KDKA Radio ‘Movies’

Francesca Dabecco
Francesca Dabecco
Posted on August 7
Frank Conrad’s garage with Westinghouse radio equipment, 1920. (Westinghouse Electric Corporation via Historic Pittsburgh)

Frank Conrad’s garage with Westinghouse radio equipment, 1920. (Westinghouse Electric Corporation via Historic Pittsburgh)

On August 8, 1928, Westinghouse staged one of the earliest demonstrations of "motion pictures broadcast by radio" or "television" in its East Pittsburgh laboratories. The idea was carried out by Dr. Frank Conrad, assistant chief engineer at Westinghouse. KDKA was “the most consistent and reliable short-wave broadcaster on the air,” according to an article titled “Radio ‘Movies’ From KDKA, Regular Programs On The Short Wave Promised.

“In the demonstration of August 8, the ‘radio movie’ signals traversed a distance of about four miles: two miles away and two miles over miles from the laboratory to the broadcast station proper, two miles away, and two miles back to the same laboratory by radio. They could just as well have been sent a greater distance, but the object was to show the operation of the whole system, both transmitter and receiver, to the assembled guests.”

Fun fact: Actor David Conrad is Frank’s great-grandson.

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