Dr. Harry Olson           PAPER  Direct-Radiator-Loudspeaker-Enclosures  AES  October 27, 1950

"The single most important attribute of reproduced music is Tone" 

Dr. Harry Olson, Music, Engineering and Sound

Dr Olson determined in the late 1930's and 1940's, then published, that loudspeakers require a back cover on their cabinet so the out-of-phase sound waves from the rear of the speaker will not interfere with the sound waves from the front of the loudspeaker.
Many Loudspeakers in that era did not use a back-wall!



In the published papers from the same era, he determined that loudspeaker enclosures should be Curved in shape like a household lamp. The loudspeaker industry followed his advise regarding closing off a loudspeaker enclosure but for 60+ years ignored his concurrent advice to use curved loudspeaker enclosures.




Dr Olson originated the scientific development of loudspeaker enclosures while working at RCA.  Review the links and imagine the history of his innovations which touches everyone's lives to this day...

 

He also is one of the inventors of the Synthesizer, the analog Videotape and Digital Video Disk.  He earned a degree in atomic physics from the University of Iowa, where another visionary created the first programmable computer in the early 1930's.

Dr Olsen and Elvis:                            Olsen designed RCA LC-1A Loudspeaker information



Dr. Olson was Born on 12/18/1901 in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa; Died on 04/01/1982 at Princeton Medical Center in Princeton, New Jersey

Harry F. Olson, a pioneer in the field of 20th century acoustical engineering, was born in Mount Pleasant, Iowa to Swedish immigrant parents.  Technically inclined from an early age, he built and flew model airplanes, constructed a steam engine and invented a wood-fired boiler that drove a 100-volt DC generator.  Olson designed and built an amateur radio transmitter, gaining enough proficiency to be granted an operator's license.  Olson went on to earn a bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Iowa then continued to earn a Master's degree with a thesis on acoustic wave filters in solids and a doctorate in Physics, working with polarization of resonance radiation in mercury. Immediately after completing his course of study in 1928, Olson moved to New Jersey to work for RCA Laboratories.  Olson would remain at RCA for almost four decades.

Olson had a continuing interest in music, acoustics, and sound reproduction, and, by 1934, he was placed in charge of acoustical research at RCA.  At RCA, Olson worked on a wide range of projects, which included developing microphones for the broadcasting and motion picture industries, improving loudspeakers, and making significant contributions to magnetic tape recording.  Like many engineers of the World War II generation, Olson also made significant contributions to military technology as well, particularly to the fields of underwater sound and anti-submarine warfare.  After the war Olson, along with Herbert Belar, developed the first modern electronic synthesizer. Equipped with electron tubes, the Mark II Sound Synthesizer was used to compose music, which was recorded and sold to the public.


A prolific inventor and engineer, Olson was awarded more than 100 patents for the various types of microphones (including the widely used 44- and 77-series), cardioid (directional) microphones, loudspeaker baffles, air-suspension loudspeakers, isobaric loudspeakers, early video recording equipment, audio recording equipment, phonograph pickups, underwater sound equipment, noise reduction, sound technology in motion-pictures, and public-address systems he developed.  He also authored 135 articles and ten books including an interdisciplinary text charting the dynamical analogies between electrical, acoustical and mechanical systems.  In 1940, Olsen received The Modern Pioneer Award of the National Association of Manufacturers.   In 1949, Olson was honored by being the first recipient of the Audio Engineering Society's John H. Potts Memorial Award, an award program which was later renamed the Gold Medal.  In 1953-4 Olson served as president of the Acoustical Society of America, which awarded him the very first Silver Medal in Engineering Acoustics in 1974 and the Gold Medal in 1981.  He won the IEEE Lamme Medal in 1970, was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1959, and was the recipient of many honorary degrees during his lifetime.  These include, in 1955, The Samuel L. Warner Medal of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, The 1956 John Scott Medal of the City of Philadelphia and The Achievement Award of the IRE Professional Group on Audio.  In 1963, Olsen received The John Ericsson Medal of the American Society of Swedish Engineers and in 1965 received The Emile Berliner Award of the Audio Engineering Society.  To end the decade of the 1960's, Olsen received The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers' Mervin J. Kelly Medal in 1967 and The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers' Consumer Electronics Award in 1969.

Olson retired from RCA in 1967, continuing as a consultant for RCA Laboratories.






RCA 44-series ribbon microphone
Developed in 1931
RCA Type 77-A microphone

Cut and Paste the following links into your Browser; most are not Hot-Links
s Page Last Updated on 7/19/05

 

BIOGRAPHICAL ARTICLES :

www.cedmagic.com/mem/whos-who/olson-harry.html

www.ieee.org/organizations/history_center/oral_histories/transcripts/olson26.html

www.ieee.org/organizations/history_center/oral_histories/abstracts/olsonab.html

www.ieee-virtual-museum.org/collection/people.php?taid=&id=1234715&lid=1

www.engineering.uiowa.edu/honor-wall/alumni-academy/members/olson.html

www.njinvent.njit.edu/1996/inductees_1996/harry_f._olson.html

www.stereophile.com/reference/704cutting/


 

RCA CORPORATION - RELATED ARTICLES

www.cedmagic.com/history/rca-hear-see-player.html

www.cedmagic.com/mem/whos-who/olson-harry.html

www.ieee.org/organizations/history_center/oral_histories/transcripts/olson26.html

www.ieee.org/organizations/history_center/oral_histories/abstracts/olsonab.html

www.uv201.com/Misc_Pages/rca_synthesizer.htm

www.answers.com/topic/rca-mark-ii-sound-synthesizer

www.synthmuseum.com/rca/

www.davidsarnoff.org/kil-chapter01.htm



 

ARTICLES INCLUDING PICTURES OF DR. OLSON

www.aip.org/history/esva/catalog/esva/Olson_Ferdinand.html

www.cedmagic.com/history/rca-hear-see-player.html

www.cedmagic.com/mem/whos-who/olson-harry.html

www.ieee-virtual-museum.org/collection/people.php?taid=&id=1234715&lid=1

www.engineering.uiowa.edu/honor-wall/alumni-academy/members/olson.html

www.njinvent.njit.edu/1996/inductees_1996/harry_f._olson.html

www.uv201.com/Misc_Pages/rca_synthesizer.htm

www.answers.com/topic/rca-mark-ii-sound-synthesizer




Selection of Olsen Patents




YearPatent DescriptionClick To View Patent
1931Acoustic Device For Sound Pick-up
(Ellipsoid Microphone)
1,814,357
1932Apparatus for Converting Sound Vibrations Into Electrical Variations
(First Practical Ribbon Microphone)
1,885,001 
1932System Responsive to The Energy Flow of Sound Waves
(Pressure and Velocity Sound Level Meter)
1,892,644
1932Sound Pick-Up Device
(Unidirectional Cardioid Microphone)
1,892,645
1933System For the Conversion and Transfer Of Energy
(Condenser Microphone Step-Up Transformer With A Remote Preamplifier.)
1,897,732
1934Acoustic Device
(Loudspeaker Horn)
1,984,542
1935Loud Speaker and Method of Propagating Sound
(Passive Radiator Loud Speaker)
1,988,250
1935Acoustic Device
(Double Voice Coil Loudspeaker)
2,007,748
1936Electroacoustical Device
(Ribbon Telephone Microphone/Speaker)
2,064,316
1937Sound Reproducing Apparatus
(Multi-Cellular Horn)
2,102,212
1937Acoustical Device
(Small Portable Closed Back Ribbon Microphone)
2,102,736
1938Microphone2,113,219
1938Microphone And Circuit
(Microphone Mixer By Verifying Field Coil Strength)
2,119,345
1940Loud-Speaker
(Multiple Flare Horn)
2,203,875
1940Loud-Speaker
(Hybrid Bass-Horn/Bass-Reflex Design)
2,224,919
1941Electroacoustical Apparatus
(Line Microphone "Shotgun Microphone")
2,228,886
1941Acoustical Apparatus
(Woofer Surround)
2,234,007
1942Signal Translating Apparatus
(Multiple Co-Axial Loudspeaker Designs)
2,269,284
1942Electroacoustical Apparatus
(Design of the RCA 77 Ribbon Microphone)
2,271,988
1942Radio Remote Control System
(Using Different Frequencies of Sound)
2,293,166
1942Electroacoustical Apparatus
(Line Array Microphone)
2,299,342
1945Signal Translating Apparatus
(Sub-Aqueous Submarine Microphone)
2,390,847
1947Magnetostrictive Signal Translating Apparatus
(Rugged Sub-Aqueous Submarine Microphone)
2,414,699
1947Signal Translating Apparatus
(Sub-Aqueous Submarine Pressure Compensated Speaker)
2,429,104
1949Signal Transmission and Receiving Apparatus
(Ultrasonically Power Wireless Earphone)
2,461,344
1949Air Suspension Loudspeaker2,490,466
1950Synthetic Reverberation System2,493,638
1950Diffraction Type Sound Absorber
(Suspended)
2,502,016
1950Diffraction Type Sound Absorber Covered By A Membrane2,502,018
1950Diffraction Type Sound Absorber With Complementary Fitting Portions2,502,019
1950Diffraction Type Sound Absorber With Fiberglass Walls
(Cylinder)
2,502,019
1950Single Element, Unidirectional, Dynamic Microphone
(With Pattern Control)
2,512,467
1950Feedback Controller System For Recording Cutters And the Like


(Phonograph Recording Lathe)

2,516,338
1951Directional Microphone
(Coincident Pair Of Ribbon Microphones With Horizontal Pattern Control)
2,539,671
1951Coaxial Dual-Unit Electrodynamic Loud-Speaker
(Improved Version)
2,539,672
1951Transformerless Audio Output System
(Tube Amplifier)
2,548,235
1951Means For Improving The Sensitivity And The Response Characteristics
Of Velocity Microphones
2,566,039
1951Line Type Pressure Responsive Microphone2566,094
1951Velocity Type Microphone
(Acoustic High Frequency Equalizer
2,572,376
1953Suspension System For Dynamic Microphones2,628,289
1953Distortion Analyzing Apparatus
(Improvement)
2,629,000
1953Second Order Gradient Directional Microphone2,640,110
1953Portable Radio With A Bass-Reflex Cabinet2,642,948
1953Noise Discrimination System2,645,648
1953Cabinet For Sound Translating Apparatus2,649,164
1953Multisection Acoustic Filter
(Filtering Out Frequencies above 5,000 Hz)
2,656,004
1954Uniaxial Microphone2,680,787
1954Noise Reduction System2,686,296
1954Sound Translating Apparatus
(Second Speaker Inside The Cabinet)
2,688,373
1954Coaxial, Dual Unit, Electrodynamic Loud-Speaker
(Improved Magnetic Structure)
2,699,472
1955Velocity Microphone
(Improved Magnetic Structure)
2,699,474
1955Dynamic Microphone
(Compact Design)
2,718,272
1956Unidirectional Microphone
(Low Cost Ribbon Design)
2,751,441
1956Acoustical Resistance For Pressure Type Microphones2,773,130
1957Methods Of Restoring Phonograph Records
(Re-synthesizing The Recording)
2,808,466
1957Transducer With Fluid Filled Diaphragm Suspension2,814,353
1957Loudspeaker Structure
(Sculpted Cone For High Frequency Pattern Control)
2,825,823
1958Combination Chassis And Loudspeaker2,838,607
1958Directional Microphone
(Using Two Microphones To Increase Directivity)
2,854,511
1958Noise Discriminator, Threshold Type2,645,684
1958Music Synthesizer
(Electronic)
2,855,816
1958Wide Range Dynamic Phonograph Pickup2,858,375
1959Acoustic Apparatus
(Improved Acoustic Labyrinth)
2,870,856
1959Signal Frequency Change Detector2,918,667
1960Vibration Control Apparatus2,964,272
1961Apparatus For Speech Analysis and Printer Control Mechanisms2,971,057
1961Electronic Sound Absorber2,983,790
1961Directional Electrostatic Microphone3,007,012
1961Music Composing Machine3,007,362
1963Stereophonic Loudspeaker3,104,729
1968Voiced Sound Fundamental Frequency Detector3,400,215