Alfred Hermann Traeger and the pedal radio
Although 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
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
(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
In 1926 Traeger
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
was conducted at Augustus Downs Station QLD.
Traeger set up the machine and aerial, and on 19
the wife of the station manager, Gertrude Rothery, made
the first transmission on the No 1 pedal wireless (pictured
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
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
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.