John Winegard, founder of the antenna manufacturing company bearing his name, was formally inducted into the 2005 Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame during its Industry Forum in Las Vegas on Oct. 18. John Winegard founded the company in 1954 in Burlington, Iowa.
A press release announcing John Winegard's induction into the Hall of Fame
described how he came to start the firm:
"This family-owned, multi-million-dollar firm was born in a basement from several lengths of aluminum tubing, a hand drill, a hacksaw and about $200 in capital. The Horatio Alger mystic is still alive and well in the stories told about the self-educated, engineer/inventor who founded the company and rode the wave of a video explosion that spawned hundreds of other companies at its peak. It took more than innovative genius, however, to stay on the crest of that volatile wave and emerge as a leader in an industry where less than half a dozen companies remain."
Winegard returned to Burlington after WWII as a radio repairman, just as the television industry boom was beginning. In Chicago, 200 miles from Burlington, WBKB (now WBBM-TV) was on the air and Winegard designed and constructed an antenna to provide reception at a local appliance dealer's shop. He got requests from friends for similar antennas and the Winegard Company was established.
Randy Winegard, the founder's son, became president of Winegard in 1977. John Winegard died on Feb. 19, 2002. "I feel comfortable in this job now, and I have a direction, and because I have a direction, the company has a direction," he said. My father believed in quality, and we have an historical strength based on that, but the responsibility for maintaining and improving quality rests with current management. You can't just say you're committed to it. You have to get involved."
Winegard currently holds 26 U.S. and 2 foreign patents and, as the press release notes, accomplished many firsts in the industry, including John Winegard's design and construction of the world's first all-channel Yagi antenna.
For more information on Winegard, visit www.winegard.com
. For information on other inductees into the Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame, see the CEA news release Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame Inducts Eleven Industry Luminaries
. Engineers and inventors joining John Winegard in the Hall of Fame this year are Joseph Donahue who worked at RCA and invented the "slurry process" to produce picture tubes and the team of William Hewlett and David Packard, founders of Hewlett & Packard, or HP that CEA notes "launched what is now the world's largest personal computer company from a California garage in 1939."