Alfred Hermann Traeger and the pedal radio

TraegerAlthough Alf Traeger was born in 2 August 1895 at Glenlee VIC, he grew up on the family property near Balaklava from 1902 where from an early age he demonstrated his interest and skills in telephones and later radio transmission.
He studied Mechanical and Electrical Engineering at the SA School of Mines and gained employment in 1915 with the Metropolitan Tramways Trust (MTT) and then the Postmaster-General's Department (PMG). He then gained a position as an electrical mechanic for the Hannan Brothers garage and service station in Wakefield Street Adelaide. His continuing interest in radio transmission came to the attention of the Reverend John Flynn of the Australian Inland Mission (AIM) through like-minded Henry (Harry) Alexis Kauper (1888–1942) of Adelaide radio station, 5BG and later 5CL.
In 1926 Traeger and Flynn began wireless experiments at Alice Springs, the Hermannsburg Mission and other places.
In 1928 Alf Traeger developed a radio driven by the feet, using bicycle pedals from the Malvern Star Company. The concept gained the support of Sidney Kidman and first test transmission was conducted at Augustus Downs Station QLD. Traeger set up the machine and aerial, and on 19 June 1929 the wife of the station manager, Gertrude Rothery, made the first transmission on the No 1 pedal wireless (pictured with Traeger).
The Traeger Pedal Radio then cost £33 ($66) and by 1933 these sets were widely used. Alf then addressed the problem of outback people having to use morse code by designing a keyboard, similar to a typewriter to send out the correct signal at the touch of a key.
The School of the Air in Canada and a number of developing countries also relied on the Traeger Pedal Radio for communications in remote areas.
Alfred Hermann Traeger, a man who shunned any publicity, married Olga Emilie Schodde (d. 1948) in Adelaide on 11 November 1937. They had two daughters. On 2 August 1956 he married a 29-year-old widow, Joyce Edna Mibus, nee Traeger with whom he had a son. He died 31 July 1980 at Rosslyn Park and was buried in Centennial Park cemetery.
Alfred Hermann Traeger made it possible for the Royal Flying Doctor Service to bring medical security to the people of outback Australia. His name is commemorated in a sports ground and a street in Alice Springs, a range of hills in WA and a remote airstrip in SA.

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