Walkie-Talkie to compete in CBC Television special "The Greatest Canadian Invention"

(Sept. 20, 2006, Vancouver, B.C.) The Walkie-Talkie has been selected by the CBC as one of the 50 top Canadian Inventions to compete for "The Greatest Canadian Invention" which will be revealed on a two hour CBC Television special Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007. See http://www.cbc.ca/inventions/inventions.html?inventionID=47

Donald L. Hings, P. Eng, M.B.E., C.M. (Member of British Empire and Order of Canada) invented the Walkie-Talkie for the Canadian Military during World War II. Guy Cramer, President/CEO of HyperStealth Biotechnology Corp. is also the grandson and former research assistant of Donald Hings.

CBC has linked to Guy's article on the HyperStealth site "Development of the Walkie-Talkie" (large PDF file) as a teaching aid for classroom curriculum.

Cramer followed his Grandfather's innovative ways and in 1999 Guy invented the "Passive Negative Ion Generator", which was issued Patent C.A. #2,282,155 in 2004. That device is under license to HyperStealth and has been approved by Canadian Foreign Affairs for export to civilian and military of all but a few countries which are currently under export deny orders. Cramer has also pioneered fractal algorithms to provide more effective camouflage patterns and HyperStealth is now combining both of these developments with ion generation for soldiers combat uniforms.

On Sept 13, 2006, Canada's Telecommunications Hall of Fame unveiled Don Hings as one of six telecom pioneers who will be officially inducted into the Hall of Fame for 2006. "Nor can we overlook the scientific genius of Donald Hings", said David Colville, Chair of the Selections Committee, "His modifications of the two-way radio, a device of his own creation which he evolved into the world's first functional and operational walkie-talkie, saved the lives of thousands of British, Canadian and American troops during the Second World War and helped to usher modern telecommunications technologies into the military".

Among Hings 55 patents (23 patents in the field of electronics), included some of the more notable;
Electronic Musical Instrument (Electronic Piano) U.S. Patent #2,492,919
Molded Circuit Boards U.S. Patent #2,703,377
Linear Rolling Motor U.S. Patent #3,555,380 (bullet trains propulsion)
Oil finding device U.S. Patent # 4,458,205.
Hings also invented the technology used for the DEW Line (Distant Early Warning Line) operated by NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) for over 30years.


(The following are highlights from "Walkie-talkie inventor hides brilliance in buffer of modesty" by Pete McMartin in the 18 January 2000 Vancouver Sun and submitted by EARS members Ed and Christine Watson, VE3SYW and VA3CMW/KF4HSG, respectively)

"To a very few people in this province and country (British Columbia, Canada), (Donald Lewis) Hings is famous for inventing, among other things, the first true walkie-talkie.

"Never a self-promoter, he is slow to make this claim himself. He prefers to say his model can only be seen as part of a progression of the existing technology. encyclopedias might concur--American encyclopedias, anyway: They say the walkie-talkie was invented in 1933, by a team of U.S. Army technicians in Monmouth, N.J.

"But there was nothing 'walkie' or 'talkie' about the early U.S. model, Hings says: It relayed only Morse code, and was mobile only in that it drew its power from the battery of the motorcycle on which it was mounted.

"Hings' model, which he invented in 1937 while working for Cominco in Trail, could be carried on the back, and sent and received voice messages. He gave company pilots and miners the ability to converse with each other, without benefit of telephone lines, over vast distances.

"He called it the 'Packset.'

It was a Toronto reporter that came up with 'walkie-talkie.'

"'The sensitivity (of his model) was greater than anything they could have dreamed of,' Hings said of the U.S. prototype. 'And for the first time, you had voice.'

"'Anyway,' he allowed, shrugging, as if it weren't worth speaking of, 'it was a new method of transmission.'

"The Canadian and British governments thought so, too. He patented it, and offered it to the government and the British high command without royalties, as his contribution to the war effort. About 18,000 (C-58) walkie-talkie units of Hings' design were manufactured during the Second World War. It would be safe to say their effect on the war was profound, saving untold lives and providing soldiers with a reliable means of battlefield communication they wouldn't have had otherwise."

Tinkerer invented the walkie-talkie

By Tom Hawthorn http://www.tomhawthorn.com/?a=39

Donald Hings was a self-taught electronics wizard who modified his two-way radio into the walkie-talkie that saved the lives of untold Allied soldiers in the Second World War.

Mr. Hings, who has died at the age of 96, was credited as inventor of the walkie-talkie, although he himself never claimed the title. By nature a modest man, he preferred to describe his contributions as belonging to a natural evolution of advancements in the burgeoning electronics field.

Others were not as reticent. Motorola unveiled a portable radio in the early 1930s, although it needed to run off a motorcycle battery and only transmitted in Morse code. Some sources cite a team of U.S. Army technicians at Monmouth, N.J. Toronto-born Al Gross claimed to have invented the two-way portable radio in 1938, although by that time Mr. Hings's own radio was already in production.

An inveterate tinkerer, Mr. Hings was hired by Consolidated Mining & Smelting Co. (now Cominco) whose geologists sought mineral deposits in isolated bush country, yet lacked a means of contacting civilization.

After much trial and error, Mr. Hings developed, in 1937, a portable two-way voice radio for emergency transmissions. The radio was cased in a watertight container painted a bright yellow for quick recovery should a float plane sink. The radio was a marvel for bush pilots. Further advancements came quickly, as such innovations as a speech scrambler, a noise filter, a voice magnifier and improved earphones made the technology ever more useful on battlefields.

The Canadian military put his models through rigorous testing, including throwing a set over the edge of a seaside cliff. ?By the time the army got through with them,? Mr. Hings once said, ?they had to be built like tanks.?

The walkie-talkies designed by Mr. Hings and made available to Canadian and British troops in the Second World War were lighter, more durable and more powerful than any issued by friend or foe. For the remainder of his life, Mr. Hings would receive testimonials about the quality of his invention from grateful veterans.

The son of a decorated Boer War veteran who became a grower of fruit trees, Donald Lewes Hings was born on Nov. 6, 1907, at Leicester, England. His parents soon became estranged and the boy moved with his mother to Canada at age 3.

He was educated at grade schools in Lethbridge, Alta., and North Vancouver, abandoning formal education early to help support his mother, a bookkeeper. An inheritance of land brought them to Rossland in the rugged and isolated Kootenay region of southeastern B.C.

Young Donald was obsessed by a new marvel of technology ? the radio ? and built his first crystal set at age 14. More than eight decades later, he would still be listed as a Ham radio operator with the call letters VE7BH. As a young man, he helped establish the first radio station in the Kootenays.

He worked as a labourer at a plywood plant before being hired by Cominco, where his insatiable curiosity was indulged.

Mr. Hings travelled to Spokane, Wash., in 1939 to file U.S. patents on his portable two-way radio. After an exhausting day of lecturing a patent lawyer on the intricacies of electronics, a tired Mr. Hings was returning to his hotel room when interrupted by excited newsboys. Germany had invaded Poland. His homeland was at war.

The merits of his device in warfare were clear. He was invited to Ottawa to demonstrate his equipment, after he was seconded to the National Research Council. He worked as a civilian with the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals, which would later name him an honorary colonel. The earliest examples were delivered to Britain shortly after the Dieppe Raid of 1942.

Mr. Hings called his wireless radio a ?Packset.? Motorola had developed what it called a ?handie-talkie.? The popular name is said to have been coined during a presentation to reporters in Toronto, when a soldier demonstrating the equipment was asked its purpose. ?Well,? the soldier said, ?you can talk with it while you walk with it.? Apocryphal or not, the device has ever since been known as the walkie-talkie.

A refrigerator factory in Toronto was retooled to manufacture the sets, about 18,000 of which were produced during the war.

Most were designed for use in the European theatre, with its harsh winters, while others were designed for the tropics or for use aboard a tank. The Canadian design was widely felt among the Allies to be the superior equipment. The sets lacked moving parts and were simple to operate, allowing soldiers in the field to share in their comrades' reconnaissance.

Although stories about two-way radios had appeared in newspapers even after the outbreak of war, the equipment was developed in an atmosphere of secrecy until a decision was made by the brass to unveil the wonder device.

A Toronto newspaper's headline captured the awe: Miraculous walkie-talkie like quarterback to army. ?To radio men it is a midget miracle,? the newspaper reported, ?a tiny but tough combined broadcasting and receiving set, easier to operate than a hand-telephone set, light but tough enough for paratroopers to take along in aerial assaults on enemy airfields, versatile enough so, in combination, they become a military network of broadcasting and receiving stations for attacking troops.

?To infantrymen, the walkie-walkie is like giving a football team a quarterback.?

For his service, Mr. Hings was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1946.

After the war, he bought a parcel of land atop Capitol Hill in the Vancouver suburb of Burnaby. The spot, where he had camped as a Boy Scout, afforded an unobstructed view of neighbouring Vancouver and its harbour. Mr. Hings built a modest home for himself and his young family, surrounding it with towers, radar sheds, electronic shops and laboratories. Over time, he sold lots of land to his employees at cost, building a hilltop community of scientists.

His company, Electronic Laboratories of Canada Ltd., of which he was president and chief engineer, won many contracts from the Department of National Defence. Radar and antenna designs found application on the DEW (Distant Early Warning) Line across northern Canada.

Mr. Hings registered more than 50 patents, including some related to the thermionic vacuum tube and to a Doppler radar aircraft-landing system. Many involved airborne and subsea geomagnetic instruments for exploration of minerals. He even had a patent for an electronic piano.

The compound was a playground for innovative adults and curious children alike. ?I thought every kid had a mad scientist as a grandfather,? said Morgan Burke, the son of Mr. Hings's youngest daughter.

Mr. Hings retired in 1986. Although he had never attended a single university class, he was a member of the American Geophysical Union and the Association of Professional Engineers of B.C.

A fall several years ago left him an invalid, as doctors feared his weakened heart could not withstand the stress of hip-replacement surgery. A rare excursion from his home came three years ago when the visiting Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson made him a Member of the Order of Canada in a private ceremony in Vancouver.

Mr. Hings died at his Capitol Hill home on Feb. 25. He leaves a son, Donald P. Hings, daughters Doreen Player, Elaine Cramer and Mary-Lynn Burke, 15 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren.

He was predeceased by his wife, the former Rakel Saarukka, who died in 1999 not long after marking their 69th wedding anniversary.

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