It All Started with a Woman’s Suggestion
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In 1929, William Lear and Elmer Wavering drove their girlfriends to a lookout point to watch the sunset. High above the Mississippi River town of Quincy, Illinois, it was a romantic evening one could be sure, but one of the women had suggested that it would be even nicer if they could listen to music in the car.

Both William Lear and Elmer Wavering liked this idea and neither man was a novice to the tinkering around of radios, with William Lear serving as a radio operator in the U.S. Navy during World War I. They began by taking apart a home radio and trying to get it to work in a car. But that isn’t so easy, automobiles have ignition switches, generators, spark plugs, and other electrical equipment that generate noisy static interference, which makes it nearly impossible to listen to the radio when the engine was running. William Lear and Elmer Wavering identified and eliminated all the sources of electrical interference.


When they finally got their radio to work, they took it to a radio convention in Chicago where they met Motorola founder, then called the Galvin Manufacturing Corporation’s, Paul Galvin. Galvin needed a new product to manufacture and with the development of the car radio, he’d felt he found it. Paul Galvin believed that mass-produced, affordable car radios had the potential to become a big business. They perfected their first radio and they installed it in his Studebaker.

In those days many companies in the phonograph and radio businesses used the suffix “ola” for their names like, Radiola, Columbiola, and Victrola were three of the biggest names. Paul Galvin decided to do the same thing. Since this radio was intended for use in a motor vehicle, he decided to call it the Motorola.

Elmer Wavering stayed with the Motorola company, he developed the first automotive alternator, and William Lear continued inventing. He holds more than 150 patents. What he’s really famous for are his contributions to the field of aviation, most famous invention of all, the Lear Jet, the world’s first mass-produced, affordable business jet. The two men who installed the first radio in Paul Galvin’s car ended up taking different paths in life, And It all started with a woman’s suggestion.

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