Heintz and Kaufman

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This entry is dedicated to the Heintz and Kaufman manufacturing business.

Start-up

The firm was founded by Mr. Ralph Heintz and Mr Jack Kaufman in 1922 (est, to be confirmed).

The first address shown for H&K is 219-221-223 Natoma street in San Francisco and in May 1936 ran a full page advertisement for a kit of parts for building "The Ideal Ham Set" designed by Gerald M. Best also in the same magazine. It used conventional triodes, not tubes made by H&K.

The San Francisco manufacturing registry for business in 1936-37 and they show: Heintz & Kaufman, Ltd., Radio Apparatus, Wireless Equipment, 311 California Street, South San Francisco.[1] South San Francisco was the H&K factory at some point, and was located adjacent to the DuPont paint factory.

One anecdote mentioned the plant was located at 50 Drumm Street, South San Francisco, CA., but unable to corroborate that.

An advertisement in the May 1927 Radio magazine showing their logo and addresses as 219-221-223 Natoma Street, San Francisco.[2] That is in the heart of downtown SF, noting the 200 block is since long gone now.

Heintz and Kaufman's success in making vacuum tubes spawned the launch of Eitel-McCullough and ultimately the birth of Silicon Valley.

Heintz and Farnsworth demonstrating a new tube
Demonstration of cold cathode vacuum tube

Ralph Heintz demonstrated some device designed by Farnsworth "Tube without a filament or grid!". I believe it was never sold, as it seems a unrealistic to deliver power of that efficiency, BUT the claim it was tested. The picture of Heintz and Frederic Terman and others are shown. Scanned from the Oct. 1934 Radio and Shortwave Experimental Magazine, any copyright is acknowledged.

The H&K firm has a rich history of manufacturing aeronautical radio transmitters and possibly receivers(?) and a rare facet that H&K supplied transmitters used for conveying the AC generator status, possibly data(?) from the generating stations located on the Feather River in Northern California back to the Bay Area for the power company (PG&E), which is document in the Leonard Fuller ora history.

The following was in a batch of "stuff" initially given to Mr. Marshall Loring who was the last manager of the Eimac'ers Retiree gatherings which ceased operation shorty before he moved to Tennessee.

In the stuff I found a great photo of the Heintz Kaufman factory signed by one of the employees dated 6/7/1935. It was presented to one of the employees in the photo, Mr Irv Coutts.

Archival photo provided by Ginny Coutt's, shows the staff at the H&K Plant in 1935. It is from a private collection.

Along with the photo I found a lengthy letter describing the life of that employee, Irv Coutts, by his wife whom he later met at Eimac. Its all very touching to read her description of their meeting, getting married, working in the same place. That letter and photograph is reproduced here with permission.

Archival material supplied by Mr. Coutts' wife Ginny included a photo of the Heintz and Kaufman staff in the South San Francisco factory.

The following is inscribed on the photo of the Heintz and Kaufman team:

"Best Wishes to Mr. I. M. Coutts from Henry Guccuhagen (sp?) 6/7/1935"

Additional notes by Ginny Coutts: "South City before Eimac.

First row 2nd O.P. Taylor, 3rd Irv Coutts, 2nd row 4th George Wunderlich"

(Front row 6th from left is Ralph Heintz (wearing white shirt with tie).

note: Bill Eitel joined H&K in 1929 and Jack McCullough followed in 1930 and both men left H&K in 1934, the year before this photo was taken.[3]

Mr Ralph M. Heintz served in the US Army Signal Corps in WW1 then attended Stanford University where he graduated with a degree in chemical engineering in 1920.[4]

In May of 1922, at the age of 30, Heintz was chief engineer of KFDB, a radio station operated by a Bank in San Francisco. Heintz and his staff built a transmitter using a 50 Watt exciter followed by a 1500 Watt linear amplifier, the first known application of a linear amplifier in the final stage by any broadcast station at that time. The station was plagued with problems and shut down after having been in existence just over a year. As John Schneider says on his webpage theradiohistorian.org: "These (stations) weren't like the stations we know today; rather, they stood with a foot in the world of broadcasting and a foot in amateur radio"[5] thanks to John for documenting history of many small broadcasting stations in the budding years of broadcast. He based some information on Ralph Heintz's writings from his archives.

Amateur radio connections

Like many of the engineers, craftspersons and technicians of his era, Ralph Heintz was an avid radio amateur and he obtained the experimental license 6XB from the FCC.

W6RH QSL card from 1960.

What tales his QSL card could tell! "W6GK was orginally held by Ralph and in 1928 he lived at 119 Twenty-sixth Ave, San Francisco. In 1931 that call had been re-issued elsewhere. W6XBB was an experimental issued in San Francisco. W6RH was later issued to Ralph sometime after 1931."

Norm Wilson, N6JV, has an extensive collection of tubes including many rare examples made by Heintz and Kaufman. He covers the rare gridless HK54 Gammatron[6] and has an excellent website with detailed information and photos of gridless Gammatrons.[7]

Of many radio amateurs working for Heintz and Kaufman were the very notable pair, Bill Eitel and Jack McCullough who both left H&K in 1934 to form Eitel McCullough Inc. (ultimately EIMAC) and eventually became very successful when the US Government needed special electron tubes to support efforts during WW2.

Several other radio amateurs employed at Heintz and Kaufman eventually were employed by Eitel McCullough. These included Jim Brown, W6AY, who was head of tube manufacturing at H&K and retired in 1975 and Al Clark, W6MUC, who built receivers at H&K and was involved with making the first Earth-Moon-Earth communication by radio amateurs in 1975 when Eimac was a division of Varian Associates.

And there was Irv Coutts, W6HTR, who retired from Eimac in 1985 after 50 years of working in the tube business.

An account of Ralph's miniature railroad on his property on the San Francisco Peninsula is well documented and includes info on his estate.[8]

Interestingly, the University of California Berkeley was licensed as 6XB in1914, it's not clear how the license was later assigned to Ralph Heinz, but having graduated from Stanford University in 1920 makes it unlikely that he had any connection with Berkeley.

RCA

The late 1920's was a busy time with new technologies popping up around developments in radio communications. Thanks to Lee DeForests' inventing the vacuum tube there were numerous firms (on the East Coast USA) manufacturing diodes, triodes and tetrodes for receiving and transmitting equipment all under the DeForest's patent protection which later became property of RCA.

The Radio Corporation of America rose rapidly after its creation in 1919 to become one of the largest manufacturers of radio receivers and transmitters; the sales of vacuum tubes were a major profit source for RCA so they vigorously enforced and defended their patents.

Ralph Heintz circumvented this patent issues by developing a tube that did not use a grid of the conventional type which allowed electrons to pass through it on their path to the anode. His design used an electrode that deflected electrons onto or away from the anode. This technique proved to be far less efficient than the triode but it was a working solution.

Being a chemical engineer, Heintz probably lacked much of the formal knowledge in the field of electrical engineering but in those days an experimental approach was often employed; taking a conceptual idea to making a prototype with little or no mathematical analysis, the so-called cut-and-try method succeeded in making many working products.

There is no record of the employees hired to work at H&K other than anecdotal information but the staff there had to be very diversified and multi-skilled, manufacturing electron tubes in the same plant where transmitters and receivers were assembled was quite an accomplishment.

Patents

H&K filed with the US patent office on Feb 20, 1929, just 8 months before the great Depression was to occur, their trademark GAMMATRON was assigned and it is interesting to note the address used, 311 California St. in San Francisco. That was the headquarters of the Dollar Steamship Corporation4 which became one of H&K's largest customers. Perhaps the Dollar Corp. was financing H&K, as the Trademark was reassigned twice to the Robert Dollar Co. of San Francisco, first on Nov. 1, 1949 then renewed on Sept. 30, 1950.

RCA eventually sued Heintz and Kaufman over alleged patent infringement and when faced with H&K's strong defense with Frederick Terman, the respected Stanford University professor of Electrical Engineering on their side, RCA withdrew their case.[9] This allowed H&K to continue manufacturing Gammatrons as well as conventional triodes.

H&K employed Ralph C. Shermund. Mr. Shermund had worked for Federal Telegraph Co. in San Francisco where he patented an important receiver development, patent 1,898,792 filed October 28, 1929.

Later, Shermund's patent 2,093,492 Sept. 21, 1937 (application dated Oct. 21, 1935) was assigned to H&K for making glass-to-metal seals, a critical part in manufacturing glass-envelope vacuum tubes. In 1933 Shermund was chairman of the San Francisco section of the Institute of Radio Engineers, Inc. Nothing is known of any other contributions by Shermund but his affiliation with H&K certainly carried some prestige to the firm.

Dollar Steamship Co

Any discussion of Heintz & Kaufman would not be complete without including their affiliation with the Dollar Steamship Co. H&K equipment was used aboard the SS Kaimiloa with call sign KFUH when, in April 1925, it made the first coherent shortwave radio contact from a ship (previous contacts were long wave and were using spark technology). A story with a picture of a KFUH QSL card is here.[10]

In 1927 the Dollar Steamship Co. began equipping all of their many ships with Heintz and Kaufman shortwave radios. A great resource of information on the Dollar company and the Heintz and Kaufman relationship can be found at the radiomarine.org website.[11]

Norm Wilson, N6JV, has an extensive collection of tubes including many rare examples made by Heintz and Kaufman. He covers the rare gridless HK54 Gammatron[12] and has an excellent website with detailed information and photos of gridless Gammatrons. [13]

Heintz and Kaufman developed specialized transmitters and receivers that were fitted to aircraft, a totally new field at that time. H&K radios were carried on expeditions to distant places including admiral Byrd's polar expeditions. The Perham foundation lists some of these accomplishments in their synopsis on Ralph Heintz.[14]

Press photo with "Norma showing simplicity of radio for (distress?) for the Dollar Boats" typed on the backside.

The use of direction finding equipment, or beacon equipment for Dollar (Lifeboats) looked to be part of the H&K suite.

EIMAC

Of many radio amateurs working for Heintz and Kaufman were the very notable pair, Bill Eitel and Jack McCullough who both left H&K in 1934 to form Eitel McCullough Inc. (ultimately EIMAC) and eventually became very successful when the US Government needed special electron tubes to support efforts during WW2.

Several other radio amateurs employed at Heintz and Kaufman eventually were employed by Eitel McCullough. These included Jim Brown, W6AY, who was head of tube manufacturing at H&K and retired in 1975 and Al Clark, W6MUC, who built receivers at H&K and was involved with making the first Earth-Moon-Earth communication by radio amateurs in 1975 when Eimac was a division of Varian Associates.

Irv Coutts

Irv Coutts and several other H&K employees left to go to work for Eitel-McCullough Inc. in 1940 since they were rapidly growing and hiring to support efforts in WW2. Irv Coutts, W6HTR, ultimately retired from Eimac in 1985 after 50 years of working in the tube business. File:HK Ginnie Coutts notes.pdf Irv Coutts is the subject of the attached documentary by his wife whom he met as a co-worker at the San Bruno plant.

Irv Coutts and Bill Eitel

Power Line Carrier Systems

An interesting application for Heintz and Kaufman transmitters was in the so-called carrier-current transmission whereby high voltage power transmission lines carry information from a generating station to a central control point many miles distant. Information on H&K's transmitters employed for this is discussed in Leonard Fuller's oral history.

Jack Kaufman left H&K in 1946 and, together with Garrett Lewis, started a tube company under their names L&K, leasing a factory site located in Los Gatos, CA.[15]

US Navy NAVSHIP advice regarding the use of H&K tubes at sea.

Heintz and Kaufman competed with Eitel McCullough, manufacturing triodes including the 304TH and 304TL but the US Government disallowed some of this tubes from being used in military equipment due to reliability problems, refer to attached US Navy NAVSHIPS advice.

In 1950 H&K introduced a pentode designated type 257/4E27. Eitel McCullough then produced a similar tube as type 5-125B. These were used in a push-pull pair in type AM-14/APT amplifiers manufactured for the US Army and US Navy. Covering the 85-150MHz frequency range, the compact amplifiers were used as airborne radar jammers. H&K had finally moved up to the VHF bands but the end was near. Without further R&D taking place, H&K withered away in 1953 while the Eitel McCullough operation took the lead as it developed ceramic power grid tubes capable of operating at UHF and microwave frequencies.

References

Logo & Trademarks

The H&K logo apparently was in use well after the company closed. Unsure who ultimately made use of the HK logo in the 60's.

The H&K Trademark was re-assigned to The Robert Dollar Co. at 311 California Street, South San Francisco twice!

H&K Scientific logo, acknowledging moral rights, copyright and trademarks of the owners.

Invitation

While this a fresh entry, it's an open invitation to you as readers who may have historic information like photo's, letters, anecdotes and other documents to augment and capture this remarkable history. Get in touch, David k3hz@ieee.org

Further reading & Acknowledgements

Major contributions from Mr Reid Brandon,

Eimac

Antique Wireless Association Review Volume #10, 1996.

http://perhamcollection.historysanjose.org/heintz-kaufman-gammatron/

https://collections.museumsvictoria.com.au/items/386245