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History of Automation: The Impact of John Hays Hammond, Jr. on Radio Remote Control


John Hays Hammond, Jr. (April 13, 1888 – February 12, 1965)

John Hays Hammond, Jr., who died on this day in 1965, is known as “the father of radio control”. His inventions provided the groundwork for today’s remote connectivity and telemetry in industrial automation applications.

John Hammond Jr. met Thomas Edison at the age of 12 in what proved to be a very influential meeting. Edison remained in contact with Hammond until his death, serving as mentor and inspiration for Hammond’s work. Hammond later met Alexander Graham Bell, who also proved an instrumental influence on his developments in the field of radio control technology.

Hammond graduated from Yale in 1910, and soon took up work in the US patent office, where he studied the patent process, and later formed the Hammond Radio Research Laboratory. He is credited with more than 800 foreign and domestic patents on more than 400 inventions

Most of Hammond’s patents are in the field of radio control, including some naval breakthroughs that remain important predecessors to today’s automated vehicles. He used his radio control technology combined with gyroscopic stabilization to send a pilotless “ghost ship” around the harbor, and then remotely controlled a yacht that sailed from Massachusetts to Boston and then back again. He pioneered early experiments in FM radio, and invented the single dial tuning system.

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