Ralph O. Williams


Ralph Williams started collecting radios in 1958. He was interested in early General Electric sets because, after he joined GE in 1947, he met and worked with some of the designers of GE's early home radios, which Williams found out were marketed by RCA. Ralph Williams

When he moved with GE to Pennsylvania in 1965, Williams had eighteen receivers, most of them, three-dialers. With Elinor, his wife, he started their Museum, The Voice of the Twenties, to study and display first-decade broadcast receivers. Together, they filled out the collection of early RCA sets and expanded the three dialers to regenerators, crystal sets and superheterodynes. They joined AWA, helped to found ARCA, and inevitably, got involved with local history, particularly Atwater Kent.

Williams had worked with broadcast transmitters for GE and later was transferred into Missile Guidance. When he retired in 1980, Williams had become expert in micro-electronic design for the missile environment. With that background it was inevitable that old-time receiver history and design would become his avocation. Getting to know Atwater Kent Jr. focused the effort on the history of the Atwater Kent Manufacturing Company. Williams started his AK studies with the Model 20 and worked both forward and back. Researching the open sets, the first ones that AK made, led to specializing the Voice of the Twenties museum on AK products.

When the family moved to Orient, Long Island, they re-established the museum in one part of Elinor's ancestral home, where it may be visited by interested collectors and historians. On display are more than 220 AK receivers, and 250 other radios that were contemporary with them.

Williams does consulting engineering, is an active ham whose call is N3VT, and writes extensively about Atwater Kent. He particularly likes to help other collectors and historians in their studies and restorations.

Used with permission - R. Williams