Thursday, January 19, 2017

Simplex Radio Company

After having been connected with the Maibohm Motor Company in Sandusky, Harry C. Maibohm started the Simplex Radio Company in 1924 at the corner of King and West Monroe Streets in Sandusky, Ohio. The advertisement above appeared in a 1932 Erie County Directory. The ad featured a Model P Simplex Radio which sold for $29.95 and a Model R Simplex Radio, which sold for $19.95. The Model P radio brought in radio stations from far distances, but the Model R was used primarily for local reception. In the 1930s, Simplex radios relied on RCA vacuum tubes for operation. The radio dial was illuminated, and interior chassis parts were rust-proofed. Most likely many Sandusky residents listened to President Franklin Roosevelt’s “Fireside Chats” from a broadcast brought into their home through a Simplex radio. 

When Jackson Junior High School opened in 1928, a Simplex system provided the ability to broadcast a radio program or phonograph record throughout a public address system, so that every student and teacher in the school could hear the broadcast at the same time. An article in the February 26, 1928 issue of the Sandusky Register reported that, “Through the imagination and foresight of F.J. Prout, superintendent of schools, Sandusky now claims the distinction of having what is believed to be the world’s first radio-equipped school.” 

This page from a patent issued to Harry C. Maibohm in 1932 describes a combined radio receiver, phonograph and public address system. The entire patent document is viewable through Google Patents.

As years went by, the Simplex radio became more streamlined, as seen in this picture of a 1937 Simplex radio, now at the Follett House Museum.

In 1937 Philco, a large radio manufacturing company, bought a controlling interest in the Simplex Company. The company relocated to the site of the former Maibohm automobile factory at 3130 West Monroe Street. By 1948 the local company adopted the Philco name. During war years, the factory worked on communications equipment for the U.S. Government. In the early 1950s, Philco made radios and television sets. In 1961 Philco moved its operations to Pennsylvania, and used the Sandusky plant as a warehouse. The Air Reduction Company purchased the warehouse building in 1964. 

The Simplex and Philco Companies provided jobs for hundreds of local men and women. The Sandusky Library Archives Research Center is fortunate to have a series of newsletters from Simplex and Philco in its business collections. Visit the Sandusky Library to view these interesting publications, which range in date from 1948-1962

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