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Background Pioneers of speakers Peter Laurids Jensen

Peter Laurids Jensen

Peter Laurids Jensen is a rather overlooked Danish inventor by some called the Danish Edison.

Peter Laurids Jensen was born in 1886 in poor conditions on the island of Falster. In 1903 Peter L. Jensen took an apprenticeship with the famous radio pioneer Valdemar Poulsen where together they experimented with the wireless phone.

In 1909 Peter L. Jensen was sent to the U.S. to work with Valdemar Poulsen's American division. Here he met Edwin Pridham who. in addition to teaching him English. also became his business partner. The two of them started the business named "The Commercial Wireless and Development Company".

In 1915 the first loudspeaker was introduced to the public. At a large Christmas show hosted in San Francisco 75.000 people anxiously waited in the town for the experience. With a single speaker - the Magnavox (which means "incredible sound" in Latin) Jensen and Pridham played several wellknown Christmas carols.

During World War One Jensen and Pridham worked on developing an anti-noise microphone that would make i possible to hear the human voice even above the roar of airplanes. The Magnavox speaker was also used as the speaker system on large battleships.

The company received its greatest recognition in 1919 when President Woodrow Wilson gave a speech in front of 50.000 people in San Diego using two Magnavox speakers - his voice being carried loud and clear. Later Peter L. Jensen admitted to regretting his invention as he saw how Hitler and other dictators abused the technology of speakers in their propaganda machines.

Peter L. Jensen  never became rich from his invention, he never had the sufficient interest in business and mass production. He did, however, participate in setting up several small companies in Chicago, which his son later took over.

Peter L. Jensen died in Illionios in 1961, prior to this he had received recognition from both Denmark and the U.S. From Denmark, he was bestowed with knighthood of Order of the Dannebrog and the appointment to honorary member of the Danish Engineering Association; from the U.S. in form of honors from The American Institute of Radio Engineers and Audio Engineering Society.


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