Milestone-Proposal:Koenigs Wusterhausen

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Docket #:2014-09

This Proposal has been approved, and is now a Milestone

To the proposer’s knowledge, is this achievement subject to litigation?

Is the achievement you are proposing more than 25 years old? Yes

Is the achievement you are proposing within IEEE’s designated fields as defined by IEEE Bylaw I-104.11, namely: Engineering, Computer Sciences and Information Technology, Physical Sciences, Biological and Medical Sciences, Mathematics, Technical Communications, Education, Management, and Law and Policy. Yes

Did the achievement provide a meaningful benefit for humanity? Yes

Was it of at least regional importance? Yes

Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to pay for the milestone plaque(s)? Yes

Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to arrange the dedication ceremony? Yes

Has the IEEE Section in which the milestone is located agreed to take responsibility for the plaque after it is dedicated? Yes

Has the owner of the site agreed to have it designated as an IEEE Milestone? Yes

Year or range of years in which the achievement occurred:


Title of the proposed milestone:

Germany’s First Broadcast Transmission from the Radio Station Königs Wusterhausen, 1920

Plaque citation summarizing the achievement and its significance:

In early 1920, in this building, technicians of the Königs Wusterhausen radio station together with employees from the Telegraphentechnisches Reichsamt, began experiments broadcasting voice and music using an arc transmitter. By late 1920, tests had become successful enough to transmit an instrumental concert on 22 December -- the so-called Christmas concert. This transmission is regarded as the birth of statutorily regulated broadcasting in Germany.

200-250 word abstract describing the significance of the technical achievement being proposed, the person(s) involved, historical context, humanitarian and social impact, as well as any possible controversies the advocate might need to review.

IEEE technical societies and technical councils within whose fields of interest the Milestone proposal resides.

In what IEEE section(s) does it reside?

IEEE Germany Section

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) which have agreed to sponsor the Milestone:

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) paying for milestone plaque(s):

Unit: IEEE Germany Section
Senior Officer Name: Dr. Axel Richter

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) arranging the dedication ceremony:

Unit: IEEE German EMC Chapter
Senior Officer Name: Dr. Frank Sabath

IEEE section(s) monitoring the plaque(s):

IEEE Section: IEEE Germany Section
IEEE Section Chair name: Dr. Axel Richter

Milestone proposer(s):

Proposer name: Dr. Heyno Garbe
Proposer email: Proposer's email masked to public

Proposer name: Lutz Dunker
Proposer email: Proposer's email masked to public

Please note: your email address and contact information will be masked on the website for privacy reasons. Only IEEE History Center Staff will be able to view the email address.

Street address(es) and GPS coordinates in decimal form of the intended milestone plaque site(s):

Museum für Sende- und Funktechnik; Funkerberg 20 Sendehaus 1 15711 Koenigs Wusterhausen Germany 52.2948636, 13.6267189

                 52.30438°N 13.61911°E

Describe briefly the intended site(s) of the milestone plaque(s). The intended site(s) must have a direct connection with the achievement (e.g. where developed, invented, tested, demonstrated, installed, or operated, etc.). A museum where a device or example of the technology is displayed, or the university where the inventor studied, are not, in themselves, sufficient connection for a milestone plaque.

Please give the address(es) of the plaque site(s) (GPS coordinates if you have them). Also please give the details of the mounting, i.e. on the outside of the building, in the ground floor entrance hall, on a plinth on the grounds, etc. If visitors to the plaque site will need to go through security, or make an appointment, please give the contact information visitors will need. The Funkerber-museum is situated in the histrorical site.

Are the original buildings extant?


Details of the plaque mounting:

The plaque shall be mounted inside the museum near the entrance door.

How is the site protected/secured, and in what ways is it accessible to the public?

During the museum’s opening hours the plaque is in the view of the staff. Out of opening hours the doors of the museum are locked. The installed alarm system is connected to the local police station.

Who is the present owner of the site(s)?

The municipality of Königs Wusterhausen.

What is the historical significance of the work (its technological, scientific, or social importance)? If personal names are included in citation, include justification here. (see section 6 of Milestone Guidelines)

The Christmas concert of the radio station Königs Wusterhausen in the ownership of the “Reichpostministerium” demonstrates the technical opportunity to perform all characteristics of broadcast by transmitting live music, music from gramophone records and an arrangement of a program. This Christmas concert is regarded as the birth of German broadcast.

What obstacles (technical, political, geographic) needed to be overcome?

The development of German broadcast was characterized by two aspects. One point was the limited experience in implementing broadcast in studios and radio technology. The second point included the political, legal and economic responsibilities for carrying out the technical operation under the specific circumstances in Germany. The Reichspost, the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of War were of the opinion that radio communications had to remain state-controlled. A free allocation of licences to operate receiving and transmitting stations was refused.

What features set this work apart from similar achievements?

The specifics of early broadcast in Germany

1. Telephony tests in Königs Wusterhausen

In January 1920 Dr. Bredow instructed the Main Radio Station Königs Wusterhausen to make test transmissions of voice and music in cooperation with the Telepraphentechnisches Reichsamt (TRA). This would help to solve the technical problems.

Among others a 5 kW arc transmitter manufactured by the company Lorenz was operated on 85.8 kHz (2700 m) during the non-transmission periods of the commercial broadcast. The arc transmitter was upgraded on a trial basis by adding an intermediate circuit and a magnetic amplifier to modulate the transmitter. This improvement resulted in a usable modulation of the transmitter by using a microphone for voice, live music and music from a gramophone. The technical employees in Königs Wusterhausen were able to evaluate and improve the modulated transmissions and the studio conditions by themselves because of their musical background. Moreover they enjoyed playing music.

2. The Christmas concert

In December 1920 the tests reached such a level that an instrumental concert of violin, cello and harmonium were able to be transmitted. A concert was announced via radio for the 22 of December. The transmission itself was announced with the phrase: “This is Königs Wusterhausen on wavelength 2700 m. As a sign that the station has attained full age and does no longer serve as guinea pig…” The Christmas concert was arranged by the employees of the Königs Wusterhausen radio station. They received praising reception reports, for instance from Luxembourg, Kiel, Veendam / Netherlands [2], [3], [6], [7]. This Christmas concert is regarded as the birth of German broadcast. For the first time all characteristics of broadcast were performed by transmitting live music, music from gramophone records, voices and an arrangement of a program.

3. The further development

After this first Christmas concert tests were continued. More concerts were arranged, the modulation was tested using telephone lines, a live transmission of the opera “Madam Butterfly” was made from Berlin, and speeches to the parliament “Reichstag” were transmitted. After the technicians constructed their own so-called “concert transmitter” by using discarded components from arc and tube transmitters they began to transmit regular Sunday concerts. These concerts were arranged every Sunday from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. until January 1926 [1]. On one hand the test transmissions from Königs Wusterhausen showed the technical feasibility to the responsible authorities in German ministries. On the other hand public interest in broadcast was kindled.

The political implementation of a broadcast system in Germany was accompanied and controlled to a large extent by Dr. Hans Bredow. Pressurized by the radio industry and other parties, a system was developed which included the operation of transmitting technology by the Reichspost. The programs were performed by private companies which were controlled by the State. The whole system was financed by the fees of its participants. On this basis the public broadcasting service was officially started in Germany on 29 October 1923.

Supporting texts and citations to establish the dates, location, and importance of the achievement: Minimum of five (5), but as many as needed to support the milestone, such as patents, contemporary newspaper articles, journal articles, or chapters in scholarly books. 'Scholarly' is defined as peer-reviewed, with references, and published. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. At least one of the references must be from a scholarly book or journal article. All supporting materials must be in English, or accompanied by an English translation.

[1] Der erste Rundfunksprecher in Deutschland (the first radio annoucer in Germany), periodical “FUNK”, issue 45, 1927

[2] Newspaper “Escher Tageblatt“, 23 December 1920, page 3

[3] Newspaper “Escher Tageblatt“, 24 December 1920, page 2

[4] Thurn, H.: Die Poulsenanlage bei der Hauptfunkstelle in Königswusterhausen (the Poulsen system of the Main Radio Station Königs Wusterhausen), periodical “Telegraphen- und Fernsprech-Technik“, issues 3 and 4, 1920

[5] Lerg, Winfried B.: Die Entstehung des Rundfunks in Deutschland – Herkunft und Entwicklung eines politischen Mittels (the coming into being of broadcast in Germany – origin and development of political resources), page 188, published by Joseph Knecht Frankfurt am Main, 1965

[6] Gerlach, Johannes: Wie Königs Wusterhausen zum ersten Rundfunksender wurde (how Königs Wusterhausen became the first broadcasting transmitter), Rundfunkjahrbuch (yearbook of broadcast), 1930

[7] Goebel, Gerhart: Der deutsche Rundfunk (the German broadcast), periodical “Archiv für das Post- und Fernmeldewesen“ (archive for post and telecommunications), pages 353, 359, 360, issue 6, 1950

Supporting materials (supported formats: GIF, JPEG, PNG, PDF, DOC): All supporting materials must be in English, or if not in English, accompanied by an English translation. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. For documents that are copyright-encumbered, or which you do not have rights to post, email the documents themselves to Please see the Milestone Program Guidelines for more information.

Please email a jpeg or PDF a letter in English, or with English translation, from the site owner(s) giving permission to place IEEE milestone plaque on the property, and a letter (or forwarded email) from the appropriate Section Chair supporting the Milestone application to with the subject line "Attention: Milestone Administrator." Note that there are multiple texts of the letter depending on whether an IEEE organizational unit other than the section will be paying for the plaque(s).

Please recommend reviewers by emailing their names and email addresses to Please include the docket number and brief title of your proposal in the subject line of all emails.

Ref1 Funk Heft45 1927.pdf
1 Translation Periodical Funk 1927 issue 45.pdf