LMR's long history in Australia

By David Cox
Tuesday, 04 December, 2018

LMR's long history in Australia

A new book has been launched telling the story of more than 50 years of innovation in LMR in Australia.

The idea of telling the story of the Australian radiocommunications industry began in 2007 at the first ARCIA annual dinner. It was clear from the response in the room that night that we had captured an energy and spirit that went beyond brands and products. We were all connected — a national industry.

The project to publish a book about the history of LMR in Australia kicked off at the 2012 ARCIA dinner, with a call for tales, memoirs, photos and recollections going back to the 1950s. That started the journey to the publication of Land Mobile Radio Australia: The making of an industry, which was officially released at the ARCIA annual dinner in Melbourne in November 2018.

The book would not have come about without the efforts of my co-author, Connie Taylor. Connie’s drive and focus on results really made the book happen. She is respected and admired by the members of our industry, and her contributions have made the industry a better place. It was a privilege to work with her on this project.

The 1950s was a time of excitement, innovation and discovery, and a lot of it was happening right here in Australia. We designed, developed and manufactured in this country. There were more jobs than people, and more buyers than goods. It was an amazing period of prosperity and growth.

Yet although our industry’s story is about a technology journey, the real story is about the people who made and built our industry. There is a unique spirit in the industry — energy, passion — and it has mastery, intelligence and purpose.

The book focuses on the commercial growth of LMR and on three of our industry’s founders. First up is Ian Hyde, who put two-way radios into the hands of officials at the 1956 Olympic Games as a result of a handshake deal in a pub — the 1950s equivalent of social media. He helped build Pye and then Philips in Australia, and was the originator of ARCIA’s Jonathan Livingstone Award. He was also the creator of TARA, the first telephone-LMR interface.

And there is Stan Goodwin, who started a small radio business in Sydney with not much except courage, belief and a vision that would sustain, inspire and grow a company. That company, now called Mastercom, has just celebrated its 50 birthday.

And Maurie Ryan, Motorola’s first Australian employee, who met a big talker in a bar in Arizona with a big story, and suggested maybe that radio might go okay in Australia. Maurie took a risk, trusted his gut, began as an agent and created the genesis of what has become Motorola Solutions Australia today.

Close up of the cover of the book Land Mobile Radio Australia: The making of an industry

They represent this industry’s spirit, and created legacies that span across generations today. They are pioneers who led from the front, who built teams, took technology and business risks, convinced customers and delivered with integrity.

The real power of the industry is not measured in watts and decibels, but in its people and their values. This common spirit of leadership, courage and energy drove this industry then, and still does today.

Every innovation — from AM to FM, crystals to synthesisers, conventional to trunking, analog to digital — has been matched with human stories and acts of generosity, selflessness and support for users and each other. Keeping a customer’s system operational at any cost is something that is common to everyone.

To all those who provided input, stories, images and ideas for the book, I thank you. Particularly Stan Goodwin, Ian Hyde, Maurie Ryan and Peter Mill, OAM.

At the turn of the 20th century Marconi said, “In the new era, thought itself will be transmitted by radio.” He was right. Today, with artificial intelligence, cloud storage and fast wireless, decisions are made automatically, surpassing human thoughts and even human intervention.

It all started with a spark and Morse code. And it has led to an industry that we can all be proud of.

Main image: David Cox launching Land Mobile Radio Australia: The making of an industry at the ARCIA annual gala dinner in Melbourne, November 2018. Copyright Ari Adar Photography.

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