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Guide to the Emil J. Simon Autobiography, and Lee de Forest Memorabilia, 1888-1963
BANC MSS 72/115 z  
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Collection Details
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  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Scope and Content

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: Emil J. Simon Autobiography, and Lee de Forest Memorabilia,
    Date (inclusive): 1888-1963
    Collection Number: BANC MSS 72/115 z
    Creator: Simon, Emil J. (Emil Jacob), 1888-1963.
    Extent: Number of containers: 4 boxes, 1 oversize folder Linear ft.: 2
    Repository: The Bancroft Library
    Berkeley, California 94720-6000
    Physical Location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
    Abstract: Inserted in the autobiography are letters, clippings, photographs and other materials documenting his life and career as a radio engineer and inventor. The Lee de Forest memorabilia include articles by and about the vacuum tube pioneer, letters, clippings, Simon's reminiscences, etc., and also material relating to the de Forest pioneers.
    Languages Represented: English

    Information for Researchers


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to The Bancroft Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Emil J. Simon autobiography, and Lee de Forest memorabilia, BANC MSS 72/115 z, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Scope and Content

    Emil Jacob Simon was born, October 25, 1888, in New York City to Sigmont and Jennie (Sampter) Simon. He attended schools in New York and in the fall of 1905 entered Columbia University. He majored in engineering and had an active interest in wireless.
    In 1906 he met Lee de Forest and in 1909 went to work for him. He stayed with de Forest's company until it failed in December 1910, and then went to work for other companies as an engineer. In 1911 he was with the National Electric Signaling Company and from 1912 to 1915, the Wireless Improvement Company.
    In 1915 he started out on his own, making radio transmitters of his own design -the Simon Quenched Spark System for wireless transmission. In the next few years he was involved with various companies making such things as direction finders for ships and a device for talking back and forth in a noisy airplane.
    In 1920 he founded Intercity Radio Telegraph Company. It operated the first overland wireless service in the East and initiated service between Berlin, Germany and New York. However, over the next ten years the larger domestic radio communication companies began to push the smaller ones out of business and Intercity failed in 1930.
    In 1932 Simon conceived and began development of a direction finder which he called the "Simon Radioguide". In 1934 he incorporated the Radio Navigation Instrument Corporation in order to market it and other radio devices. The Radioguide became popular for use in airplanes.
    In 1948 the Radio Navigation Instrument Corporation failed and Simon became an independent consulting engineer specializing in radio patent suits.
    Over the years he had continued his friendship with his former employer, Lee de Forest, and became an active charter member of the De Forest Pioneers.
    He died in New York in 1963.
    The Simon Collection came to The Bancroft Library in January, 1972 as a gift of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. It consists of the holograph manuscript of his autobiography and related material (described in the Key to Arrangement which follows) and letters and papers relating to Lee de Forest and the DeForest Pioneers.