This is the Radio Engineering Laboratories Section of
|Radio Engineering Laboratories
REL was founded by Charles M. Srebroff in his mother's kitchen in 1921. A Columbia University student, his first products - variable capacitors and RF coils - led to radio kits. Naturally, Srebroff built a radio station, so his customers could receive programs on their radios. WFAG was licensed to Waterford, NY. It was granted DOC license #467, and ran for a little over a year, from June 9, 1922 to July 1923.
REL manufactured many custom products for amateur as well as commercial purposes. Customers included the bootleggers of the time, providing quite a large income to the business in the late 1920s and early 1930s.
In time, Henry Dietz came to be the plant manager, and led the way to expanding the company. Frank Gunther was the salesman. A major force in REL came to be Major Edwin Armstrong. Armstrong was the driving force for many projects including FM transmitters and the first two-way radios for police cars. These radios - installed in the Bayonne, NJ police cars - raised the ire of RCA, which then instigated a patent lawsuit by Lee De Forest. The animosity between Armstrong and RCA led to his backing REL in the legal actions. Additional legal aid came from C.R. Runyon, Armstrong's neighbor. (Ironically, the radios were first designed for a client in South America ... rum runners ... who lost their equipment to the Coast Guard.)
REL projects included a number of military radios, as well as the LORAN (LOng RANge navigation system), just recently replaced by GPS, and equipment installed in Amelia Earhart's plane. With Armstrong's FM transmitters came FAX capabilities.
In 1947, seeing the potential for post-WWII FM transmitter sales, C.R. Runyon exercised an option granted by Armstrong during the patent fight against RCA, and promptly dismissed Srebroff. Dietz left in sympathy, and founded the Henry G. Dietz Co, specializing in low pressure/vacuum technology. Frank Gunther (who joined Radio Engineering Laboratories in 1925) became president in 1960.
REL ran for a while, but eventually withered, ceasing operations in 1972, after being sold to American Dynamics.
I'd like to express my sincere appreciation to Mr. Henry G. Dietz for his kind assistance in adding to this historical page.