Traeger Memorial- Alice Springs airport.
The Pedal Radio
Alfred Traeger was born in Glenlee, Victoria in 1895 and grew up on a farm
at Balaklava in South Australia, Young Alfred always had an interest in electronics
and at age 12 had rigged up his own telephone receiver-transmitter between a
shed and the farmhouse, using mostly odds and ends found around the farm.
This interest developed and he received a scholarship to the School of Mines where he qualified as an electrical engineer on ammeters and generators-while still dabbling in radio. His knowledge of radio attracted John Flynn 'Flynn of the Inland', who asked him to accompany him to Alice Springs to conduct some experiments and develop a cheap, efficient radio to connect people of the outback with a central station.
Traeger adapted a WW1 idea of using pedals to generate electricity, to create a transmitter-receiver, and in 1929 launched the Traeger Pedal Radio at a then cost of £33 ($66).
By 1933 these sets were extensively used and new models were frequently launched. Traeger then overcame the problem of outback people having to use morse code by designing a morse keyboard, similar to a typewriter, which sent out the correct signal at the touch of a key. By 1939 he had developed a set which used vibrator units instead of pedals, however, as recently as 1962, the Traeger Radio Company was exporting pedal sets to Nigeria.
In 1970 the School of the Air in Canada, and 20 developing countries relied on the Traeger Pedal Radio for communications in remote areas.
The memorial radial direction marker at the Alice Springs airport (pictured opposite), Traeger Avenue and the Traeger Oval are all Alice Springs testimonials to this clever, dedicated man who brought communications to the lonely outback wilderness by his ingenuity.
There is also a small memorial to Traeger beside the road near Glenlee in Victoria on the Borung Highway between Nhill and Jeparit.
|© Copyright Peter W. Wilkins|