George H. Sweigert (1920–1999) is widely credited as the first
inventor to hold a patent for the invention of the cordless
telephone. Google Patents link. 
Born in Akron, Ohio, Sweigert served five years in the US Army as a
radio operator in
World War II
World War II in Guadalcanal, Bougainville, Fiji and
New Georgia (assigned to the 145th Headquarters Company under the 37th
Infantry Division (United States)). Following the war, Sweigert
Bowling Green State University
Bowling Green State University near Toledo, Ohio.
Sweigert credited his military service for invention of the radio
telephone, citing experimentation with various antennas, signal
frequencies, and types of radios.
2 Early role models
3 Wireless networking
4 Later years
6 See also
8 External links
With the patent application submitted on May 2, 1966 to the US Patent
and Trademark Office, Sweigert submitted a working model of the phone
in addition to the required description. A Cleveland Plain Dealer
article, published shortly after the patent was filed, documented the
first public demonstration of the cordless phone with a picture of the
device and the inventor.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer article cited that Sweigert actually used a
part from his washing machine for the invention - the solenoid used to
lift the phone's receiver when a current was sensed in the induction
coil. Sweigert, who suffered severe back pain from a war injury, saw
the device primarily helping handicapped and elderly people.
The US Patent and Trademark Office issued US Patent 3,449,750 to
Sweigert on June 10, 1969. The New York Times reported the award of
the patent in the June 14th, 1969 edition. (page 52, column 6) In the
article, Sweigert gives the first known printed description of how the
"remote phone" might be used as a remote office or around the home,
foreshadowing the way cell phones are used today. A friend told
Sweigert that the article appeared in the Times, but Sweigert did not
believe it completely until he received official word from the US
Patent and Trademark Office later that week.
Sweigert held two amateur radio licenses: W8ZIS (Ohio) and N9LC
(Indiana). He was an amateur extra radio operator, the highest class
of amateur radio. He also held a First Class Radiotelephone Operator's
Permit issued by the Federal Communications Commission.
Radio Communication and Signalling Appartus—G.
Source: US Patent Trade Office 
Early role models
Sweigert's heroes included Samuel Morse, Thomas Edison, Alexander
Graham Bell, Lee DeForest, Edwin Armstrong, Albert Einstein, and Philo
Taylor Farnsworth. Sweigert was coincidentally born in the same city
that hosts the National Inventors Hall of Fame, Akron, Ohio.
Sweigert studied the life stories of these inventors, and he
frequently would recount the early technical and legal struggles of
these inventors to get their inventions patented and protected.
Edison's early technical struggles with full duplex (two way)
communication was another favorite subject, born out of Edison's
desire to "speed up" telegraphic conversations by sending and
receiving at the same time. Whether Edison could actually perform this
telegraphic feat has never documented, but Sweigert credited this
story with his inspiration for a full duplex cordless telephone.
Sweigert studied how duplexes reduced frustrations dealing with
technologies, going all the way back to the early days of telegraphy.
Sweigert admired Alexander Graham Bell's work with the deaf as an
inspiration for development of the telephone. One of Sweigert's sons
is hearing impaired. This may explain Sweigert's intricate use of
amplifiers in the initial invention. Sweigert was physically disabled,
and saw the cordless phone as a similar to the telephone in terms of
motivation and inspiration for the development of the invention.
Sweigert sided with
Alexander Graham Bell
Alexander Graham Bell in the
Elisha Gray and
Alexander Bell telephone controversy, although
Elisha Gray was another
Cleveland inventor. He did credit Gray with being the first to come up
with a way of multiplexing several messages simultaneously on the same
He also enjoyed the fact that Bell was a complete amateur compared
with professional established laboratories of
Elisha Gray and
super-inventor Thomas Edison. He greatly admired Edison's work on
improving the vibrating diaphragm to vary the induced resistance from
varying frequency in the voice. He frequently cited Bell besting
Edison on the invention of the telephone as Edison's motivation to
invent the phonograph. He expressed dismay how Bell missed inventing
the phonograph after his frequent lectures about visualizing audio
waves and electrically reproducing them. Sweigert credited being able
to visualize human voice waveforms as another key in perfecting the
Sweigert also admired
Edwin Armstrong and his invention of FM radio.
Armstrong's concept of the superheterodyne receiver to filter out
noise and amplify the original signal is used in the cordless phone.
He also admired Armstrong's courage to challenge the status quo of AM
radio and its powerful leader, David Sarnoff.
Sweigert's eureka moment for the cordless phone was similar, imagining
the human voice waveform for a word as a short "wavelet" traveling
through the air and then the wire, linking the words together to
reproduce a conversation. He envisioned a home where all kinds of
devices generated "message wavelets" to share the electromagnetic
spectrum, foreshadowing Ethernet. Sweigert's philosophy was "the
simpler, the better, as could be understood by a child". He often
recounted Einstein's experience of reading a children's story about a
child racing a telegraph signal going through a wire.
His later years were spent trying to perfect antenna designs, applying
the work of James Clerk Maxwell's work on electromagnetic theory and
Maxwell's Equations. His persistent frustration after the invention of
the cordless phone was not being able to do the advanced calculus
required by these equations for advanced antenna design.
Sweigert predicted that half of the people in the world would own a
wireless phone in the time of his children. With the current world
population of wireless phones at 3.2 Billion in 2008, he was probably
not far wrong with this prediction. He predicted integrated cameras,
GPS, accelerometers, and other advanced sensors in the 1969 moon
lander would be integrated into the wireless phone. Sweigert received
notice of his patent approval the same day of the first moon landing
on June 20, 1969.
Sweigert greatly admired
Philo Farnsworth for his invention of
television, and more specifically his work with the cathode ray tube
and the electronic amplifier. Sweigert nicknamed his oscilloscope in
his home electronics lab "Philo" in honor of Philo Farnsworth,
critical to Sweigert for visualizing his "word worms". He also admired
Farnsworth for his ability to challenge RCA, founding the Farnsworth
Radio Corporation in
Fort Wayne, Indiana
Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1938. While
reading about Farnsworth and his later work on submarine detection
equipment, he was led to a research and development position with
Magnavox Corporation in
Fort Wayne, Indiana
Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1969.
Sweigert took the R&D position with
Magnavox Corporation in 1969
Fort Wayne to work on Army field radios for soldiers in the Vietnam
War. He sympathized with the soldiers fighting in the Vietnam jungles
which were similar to the jungle conditions he fought in at
Bougainville Island in the Second World War. Magnavox
field radios were key to the US Army for the entire Vietnam War.
Sweigert was fascinated by the development of the integrated circuit
and its potential uses to reduce the size of electronic products. He
was friends with many of the people involved in the founding of Bowmar
Instrument Corporation in Fort Wayne, the makers of the first
electronic pocket calculator, or more popularly known as the Bowmar
Sweigert taught electronics at the vocational college level in his
later years for
ITT Technical Institute
ITT Technical Institute in
Fort Wayne despite his
physical disability. He credited ITT for purchasing the Farnsworth
Television from Philo Farnsworth, enabling him to finally receive
compensation for his invention. Sweigert sympathized with the
struggles in the later life of
Edwin Armstrong and wanted to avoid a
similar fate in his own life.
Sweigert also admired
Guglielmo Marconi for his work with wireless
telegraphy. He was internally conflicted on whether
Nikola Tesla or
Marconi should be credited with the invention of radio.
History of radio
^ US Patent Number 3,449,750 DUPLEX RADIO COMMUNICATION AND SIGNALING
APPARATUS FOR PORTABLE TELEPHONE ... G. H. SWEIGERT
^ Viewable image of the original patent application;
^ Patent image, US Patent Trade Office
Video on YouTube
Radio Telephone Call on YouTube
US Patent Number 3,449,750 DUPLEX RADIO COMMUNICATION AND SIGNALING
APPARATUS FOR PORTABLE TELEPHONE ... G.