Pioneer broadcast apparatus for sale

Auctioneer Kevin Hayward takes a closer look at a transmitter used to make  New Zealand's first...
Auctioneer Kevin Hayward takes a closer look at a transmitter used to make New Zealand's first radio broadcast in 1921. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
A radio transmitter used by University of Otago physics professor Robert Jack to make his pioneering radio broadcast of voice and music 89 years ago is being auctioned later this month and could leave Dunedin.

Prof Jack, who died in 1957, and his physics team made New Zealand's first radio broadcast on Saturday, November 17, 1921.

He was a Scots-born physicist who came to Dunedin as professor of physics in 1914 and remained on the university staff for 33 years.

Prof Jack's transmitter is among about 200 items of equipment and former teaching aids, owned by the university physics department, which are being auctioned by Hayward's Auction House on June 30.

A historic notice records the event. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
A historic notice records the event. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Some of it is from the late 19th century and early 20th century.

Otago physics head Prof Rob Ballagh said the decision to sell the old equipment, including the transmitter, had not been made lightly.

Prof Jack was a pioneer in New Zealand radio research and broadcasting and it was to be hoped that the transmitter would go to "a good home" in the Dunedin area, where some public access could be retained, Prof Ballagh said.

The physics department no longer had space to store all the old equipment and was not able to operate as a museum, he said.

The department had loaned the transmitter to the Otago Settlers Museum for an exhibition some years ago and it was later returned, apparently in 2002.

Prof Robert Jack. Photo supplied.
Prof Robert Jack. Photo supplied.
Prof Ballagh understood that the museum had not been able to retain the transmitter at that stage, because of its own circumstances.

Museum officials acknowledge that early last decade and before, the museum had limited storage facilities and climate control issues, restricting its ability to acquire some additional artefacts.

Storage conditions have recently improved greatly, with the construction of a major climate-controlled storage building last year.

Officials yesterday confirmed the earlier loan to the museum.

They said the transmitter was a significant artefact in the history of Dunedin and New Zealand and the museum was "very interested" in acquiring it.


- john.gibb@odt.co.nz

 

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