WALKIE TALKIE Inventor Donald Hings 1937

The seemingly archaic devices—which were much cooler before cellphones came around—are really two• way radio transceivers. Unlike phones, you have to take turns with walkies-talkies, pressing a button when you want to talk. Who’s responsible for the gadget we know today? Prob-ably Motorola engineers, with an assist from Canadian inventor Donald Flings and American inventor Al Gross, also responsible for the pager .

Hings invented a portable 12-pound, 130-mile range radio signaling system that he called a pack set in 1937. When Canada declared war on Germany in 1939, he was sent to Ottawa to further develop his pack set. Hings said the name walkies-talkie came about in 1941 when a reporter asked what the device did.

“Well, you can talk with it, while you walk with it,” Hings answered. Gross worked on the walkies-talkie from 1934 to 1941. which Motorola improved into the handheld “Han-die-Al-lie.”

(Previous versions were carried on soldier’s backs.) The device used a vacuum tube and high voltage dry cell batteries. Initially the walkies-talkie was a military device, but soon other uses became clear—cellular search and rescue, marine communication. police work, and as simplified toys.

Powerful as they are, smart-phones are not truly capable of communication on their own accord. But when the apocalypse comes, we may still be able to use walkies-talkies.

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