PALO ALTO (KCBS) – 100 years ago this month in Palo Alto came an invention that allows you to hear what we broadcast on KCBS, and what we hear at rock concerts and in movie theaters.

Lee de Forest made the discovery that allows bands like Motley Crue – and the motley crew at KCBS to ply their trade.

“Forest, about this month in 1912, made his vacuum tube go from just being a detector of radio to an actual amplifier of sound,” said San Jose State Radio-TV-Film Professor Mike Adams.

KCBS’ Mike Sugerman Reports:

Those first sounds came out of a lab on Emerson Street in Palo Alto. And the first radio station, which became KCBS, wasn’t really heard out loud.

“Folks who wanted to listen to radio had to use earphones,” Adams said. “So it was mostly of interest to hams, mom and dad didn’t have the radio on in the kitchen.”

Adams, a de Forest scholar, said the inventor came to the Bay Area to work at Federal Telegraph and Telephone.

“It was a startup. It was a Silicon Valley startup, if not the first Silicon Valley startup,” he said.

Out of that startup came a vacuum tube that could amplify sound, which has brought great things to the world and, depending on your taste, some not so great things as well.

You can hear Mike Sugerman’s About the Bay reports on Mondays at 6:40am, 7:40am and 8:40am on KCBS All News 740AM and 106.9FM.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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