How Armstrong's Circuits Made the Radio Receiver Part of Our Lives

March 15, 2013


Prof. Asad A. Abidi, Chancellor's Professor of Electrical Engineering, University of California, Los Angeles
Friday, March 15, 2013
Refreshments at 2:00 PM
Talk at 2:30 PM
Davis Auditorium, Schapiro Center

Abstract: Edwin Armstrong's name is associated with the superheterodyne receiver and with wideband FM. But he could never have persuaded skeptics of the value of either system concept without developing circuits that would demonstrate these systems in practical form. Working with the recently invented triode vacuum tube, Armstrong invented new circuits for every block of the system, often from first principles. He was acutely aware that for the radio receiver to enter every home, the circuits should provide superior reception at the lowest possible cost. His earliest circuit inventions date to his undergraduate years at Columbia University, although his output of circuits continued through the 1920s. I will use a modern approach to interpret Armstrong's circuits, some of which use a single vacuum tube for multiple functions. I wish to make the case that Armstrong is a pioneer not only of communications architectures but also one of the first electronic circuit designers. His circuit concepts live on a century later, today in the ubiquitous radios-on-a-chip.

Speaker Bio: Asad Abidi received the BSc (Hons) from Imperial College, London, and the MS and PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. From 1982 to 1985, he worked at Bell Laboratories, Murray Hill, NJ. He joined the faculty of the UCLA Electrical Engineering Department in 1985, where his research has revolved around CMOS analog IC design, specifically RF CMOS. Abidi is Fellow of IEEE and Member of the National Academy of Engineering.


This series of lectures offered by the Department of Electrical Engineering at Columbia University in New York is named in honor of Edwin Howard Armstrong, 1890-1954, a pre-eminent electrical engineer, who through his extraordinary inventions, FM radio among them, contributed immeasurably to the advancement of wireless communications and broadcasting. He spent his entire career in the department - first as a student and later as a professor.