The Inventor of Stereo: The Life and Works of Alan Dower Blumlein

Robert Charles Alexander

Focal Press 1999

ISBN 0 240 51577 3

About 30

 

Robert Alexander is to be congratulated on producing a long awaited and much overdue biography of Alan Blumlein. The story is compelling and generally well told. He brings life to Blumlein's brilliant work on telephony, stereo, television and radar as well as giving us a glimpse of the man himself. He also covers the sad history of previous attempts at a biography and the commemorations of his tragic death in a wartime air accident.

 

The book is not quite what it might have been. It might be construed as carping that so much space is given to the background of radar development with which Blumlein had no connection. There is also a certain amount of repetition of detail. My main criticism is the apparent lack of editorial input and the book has suffered badly here.

 

Many writers are guilty of saying "Institute of Electrical Engineers" [italicise Institute please] though the correct "Institution of Electrical Engineers" is also to be found in the book. To make Emitron tubes from "Perspex glass" sounds like a difficult endeavour and the explanation of the long tail pair amplifier is strange indeed.

 

These are a just a few examples of items that need attention if there is a second edition.

 

Rather like buses, biographies of Blumlein seem to come in twos. It will be interesting to see Professor Burns' volume which should be available by the time you read this. Alas the 60 price tag will be a deterrent to most.

 

Jeffrey Borinsky MIEE CEng