Technical Tour - Central New Jersey

SELF-GUIDED TECHNICAL HISTORY TOUR OF NEW BRUNSWICK AND CENTRAL NEW JERSEY

This tour was constructed by the Staff of the IEEE History Center. For a global map of IEEE Milestones, ASCE Landmarks, and ASME Landmarks, go to the Innovation Map on the Engineering & Technology History Wiki. For a list of other Technical History Tours, please click here.

Marconi Park

New Brunswick, corner of Easton Ave & JFK Boulevard, Somerset, NJ, 40.51529, -74.48895

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Site of the former Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of America transatlantic transmitting station (coal for the transmitter's generators was shipped vi the Delaware and Raritan Canal just across Easton Avenue), Marconi Park today contains one of the original buildings (a cottage that housed the workers). The eight 400-foot (122 m) steel antenna masts supporting the 5,000-foot-long (1,500 m) antenna on the other side of Easton Avenue from the present park were demolished in 1952 to make room for a shopping center. In 1917, the United States Navy appropriated the station (call sign NFF), making it the principal wartime communication link between the United States and Europe. It transmitted the text of Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points speech to Europe in May 1918. See also New Brunswick Marconi Station on Wikipedia.

Mine Street, New Brunswick

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An 18th century copper mine ran under Mine Street (40.498744, -74.4500914) and part of what is now the campus of Rutgers University (Murray Hall 40.498744, -74.4500914 ). Nearby French Street commemorates the owner's name, and a few artifacts are in the Rutgers Geology Museum. For more information see Flooding Brought an End to Mining Operation in Old New Brunswick, New Brunswick Today, October 6, 2014.

Thomas Alva Edison Memorial Tower and Menlo Park Museum

37 Christie Street, Edison, NJ 08820, + 732 549 3299, 40.56503, -74.33743

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The site of Edison’s laboratory in Menlo Park (since renamed Edison in his honor) is an IEEE Milestone. More than 400 patents were issued to Edison while he worked at this site, including the phonograph, his improved incandescent lamp, and the carbon-button transmitter or microphone. He also discovered the Edison Effect here. Edison noted in 1883 that when a lamp was fitted with a filament and a plate, an electric current flowed through the vacuum. The research was presented at the first meeting of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (the predecessor to the IEEE) in 1884. The Edison Effect helped lead eventually to the Fleming valve and vacuum tube electronics.

Historic Speedwell

333 Speedwell Avenue, Morristown, NJ 07960, +1 973 540 0211, 40.8120, -74.4812

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Beginning in the early 19th century, New Jersey was a global center of what then was “high-tech.” Samuel F. B. Morse did most of the work on his telegraph system at the home of his partner, Alfred Vail which is now an IEEE Milestone. The Vail Homestead Farm was also the site of the family’s ironworks, where a previous owner made the machinery for the S. S. Savannah, the first steamship to cross the Atlantic. The farm, now known as Historic Speedwell, is a U.S. National Historic Site. It is open to the public and includes displays on ironworking, 19th century New Jersey life, and the invention of the telegraph.

Morris Museum

6 Normandy Heights Road, Morristown, NJ 07960, +1 973 971 3700, 40.7958922,-74.4507441

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The Morris Museum hosts exhibits on local history, art, and science. Of special interest is the Murtogh D. Guiness Collection of some 750 19th century automata and robotic figures, with about 150 on exhibit and the rest viewable in storage.

Thomas Edison National Historic Park

Main Street and Lakeside Avenue, West Orange, NJ 07052, +1 973 736 0551, 40.783824, -74.233825

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Opened in 1887, the laboratory created by Thomas Alva Edison in West Orange, New Jersey, had enormous impact on societies and cultures throughout the world. Over more than 40 years this lab produced, among other things, the motion picture camera, improved versions of the phonograph, sound movies and the nickel-iron alkaline electric storage battery. Run by the U.S. National Park Service, replete with informative displays and staffed by knowledgeable Park Rangers. Visits include tours of Edison’s nearby mansion, Glenmont. Edison’s West Orange Labs have been designated an IEEE Milestone. The IEEE Milestone plaque can be viewed about a half mile/800 meters south on Main Street near the post office at Cleveland Street.

InfoAge Science History Museum and National Historic Landmark

2201 Marconi Road, Wall, NJ, +1 732 280 3000, 40.1859554,-74.0615791

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The InfoAge Learning Center is on the site of the former Camp Evans, site of the U.S. Army Signal Corps’ major electronics research laboratory, which was important in the development of radar in World War II, in the beginnings of satellite telecommunications, in early transistor applications, and many more technologies. Prior to its use by the U.S. Army, it was a Marconi station where Edwin Howard Armstrong, Ernst Alexanderson, and David Sarnoff did or participated in important radio research, notably a demonstration of Armstrong's regeneration circuit. Project Diana took place there and Camp Evans helped track the first weather satellite, TIROS I, in 1960. There is a copy of the IEEE Milestone plaque for TIROS I at the Project Diana site's TIROS building.

Princeton Area

Albert Einstein museum, Landau, 102 Nassau Street, Princeton, NJ, 40.3501019, -74.6603525

An exhibit of photos and memorabilia in the back of a woolens shop. Einstein lived nearby at 112 Mercer Street, Princeton, NJ 08540, which is now a private residence, and worked at the Institute for Advanced Study. which does not have an exhibit.

The Historical Society of Princeton's Updike Farmstead, 354 Quaker Road, Princeton, NJ, 40.3205194, -74.6840642, has a permanent exhibit of the "Einstein Salon," featuring his writing desk and other Biedermeier furniture, along with documents and photos.

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SRI International

201 Washington Road, Princeton NJ, +1 609 734 2000, 40.331685, -74.631637

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Formerly the RCA Laboratories, or David Sarnoff Research Center, and Sarnoff Corporation. Three IEEE Milestone plaques can be viewed on the pillars at the building's entrance: TIROS Weather Satellite, RCA Monochrome Compatible Color Television, and Liquid Crystal Display. The lobby is publicly accessible and holds a display of RCA and Sarnoff Corporation's ten Emmy Awards.

Sarnoff Collection at The College of New Jersey

The IEEE Life Members Fund of the IEEE Foundation awarded a grant of $19,800 for the establishment of a new study center in connection with The College of New Jersey’s (TCNJ) Ewing, NJ 40.270910, -74.777599. The Sarnoff Collection in Roscoe West Hall, Ewing, NJ, is open Wednesdays, 1:00-5:00 p.m., and Sundays, 1:00-3:00 p.m.

More than 6,000 objects showcase David Sarnoff and RCA’s numerous contributions to 20th century electronics and telecommunications, including Sarnoff's telegraph key, the first color television picture tube, the first commercially available electron microscope, and early examples of magnetic core computer memories, thin film transistors, and liquid crystal displays.

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