Melville Eastham

Melville Eastham (June 26, 1885 – May 6, 1964)[1] was a noted American radio pioneer and business executive.

Melville Eastham
Born(1885-06-26)June 26, 1885[1]
DiedMay 6, 1964(1964-05-06) (aged 78)[1]
Resting placePortland, Oregon[1]
AwardsIEEE Medal of Honor (1937)
Scientific career
FieldsElectrical engineering
InstitutionsGeneral Radio Company

Eastham was born in Oregon City, Oregon. After high school graduation from Portland Academy, he worked as electrician for a Portland street railway, then moved to New York City in 1905 where he worked for the Ovington X-ray Company. After noticing that the high-voltage spark coils used to excite X-ray tubes were becoming popular as transmitters for radio amateurs, he joined two other employees in 1906 to start the Clapp, Eddy, and Eastham Company (subsequently Clapp-Eastham) in Boston, to sell spark coils, variable capacitors, and other radio devices.

In 1915 Eastham left Clapp-Eastham to form the General Radio Company,[2] first located on the third floor of a small flatiron building still standing at the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Windsor Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It provided radio components such as a Precision Variable Air Condenser ($25.00), a Decade Resistance Box ($19.00), a Precision Variable Inductance ($24.00), and an Absorption Wavemeter ($60.00), and quickly profited from strong demand for military radios during World War I and the subsequent radio broadcasting boom. During World War II, Eastham led the LORAN radio navigation development efforts at MIT's Radiation Laboratory. He stepped down as president of General Radio in 1944 but retained the title of chief engineer until his retirement in 1950.

Eastham was named a Fellow of the Institute of Radio Engineers in 1925 and served as its treasurer from 1927 to 1940. He received the IRE Medal of Honor in 1937 "for his pioneer work in the field of radio measurements, his constructive influence on laboratory practice in communication engineering, and his unfailing support of the aims and ideals of the Institute."


  1. ^ a b c d e f Melville Eastham at Find a Grave
  2. ^ Burke, C.T. (Nov–Dec 1935). "The General Radio Company - No. 5 of a Series of Instrument Company Histories" (PDF). The Instrument Maker. Archived (PDF) from the original on December 18, 2018.CS1 maint: date format (link)

Further readingEdit

  • The General Radio Story; Frederick Van Veen; 262 pages; 2006; ISBN 978-0615176659. (archive)
  • A History of the General Radio Company 1915-1965; Arthur Thiessen; 116 pages; 1965; ASIN B0006CAQII. (archive)

External linksEdit