Rufus Turner: Ham Radio’s First African American Operator


I ran across a Wikipedia entry about Rufus Turner recently. Rufus was an engineer who developed the 1N34A germanium diode in the 1946.

This particular diode is an old standby in electronics, widely used for detecting the rectifying efficiency of radio and television circuits.  You can build his “ambitious” four-transistor non-superheterodyne AM radio from his 1956 article in Popular Electronics.

Turner, while still a teenager, built what was then the world’s smallest radio set. Three years later, in 1928, Turner became the first African-American to earn an Amateur Radio License.

The Department of Commerce, which issued licenses then, assigned Turner the call sign W3LF. His station was licensed for 15 watts.

He left electronics to become an English professor after earning a PhD in literature.

Rufus Turner died in 1982. He was 74.

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2 thoughts on “Rufus Turner: Ham Radio’s First African American Operator

  1. 1N34A because you can not use it in your radio, I have the inside of the radio you can not put it perhe and a little larger than normal, to have a radio in the SMD as semiconductors and already have a digital, however, and a diode for high sensitivity as receiving signals of those years, here in my house I have 5 diodes for experimental use, this diode with use often will ruin the germanium and the internal diode compared to those of last generation

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