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Who is "André Charlin" ?

Updated: Nov 10, 2021

André Marie Bernard Charlin, born in 1903 in Paris, was introduced to electroacoustics by ill-fate. As a talented thirteen year-old flutist, he suffered the death of his father; and so his subsequent interests as an adolescent were greatly influenced by his uncle. Edmond Ragonot (Charlin's mother's brother) was an extremely creative electrical engineer, whose motor designs are still used to this day. He coached his nephew in this very promising domain, helping him to build his first detector radio and to develop it further as soon as the end of WW1 made surplus tubes readily available. Peace-time also introduced the trend for jazz music and dancing, but due to the scarcity of trained orchestras, only broadcast retransmission was available. The challenge was, therefore, to boost a detector radio's output from "earphone" to "dance hall" level. André Charlin was therefore only 16 or 17 when his first "receiver" was soldered together (but he was already very fond of jazz and dancing!)

This was the beginning of a long chain of inventions and technical developments. Over 200 of them have been officially recognized and granted patents. In many cases, an in-depth analysis of the patent's details and verification of it's practical implementation, may well show that André Charlin's discoveries preceded - sometimes by several years - the likes of Rice & Kellogg, Klar & Vogt or Black. He clearly fully deserves shared paternity in the main technical milestones towards high fidelity reproduction.

Primitive by today's power standards, his new receiver incorporated the newly available "military telegraphy valves", which provided a maximum of around 1 W effective power. It soon became obvious that there was a desperate need for better transducers. In 1922, two years before a US patent was granted to Rice & Kellogg, André Charlin obtained a French patent for an electrodynamic loudspeaker with a circular baffle. This patent was later purchased by Compagnie Thomson which, ironically, had simultaneously arranged for a Rice-Kellogg licence!

In 1926, after military service, he was granted two patents; one for a push-pull electrostatic loudspeaker and one for a variable reluctance pick-up system. As he got married the same year and established his first small business for manufacturing radios and loudspeakers, it was obviously lack of time that forced André Charlin to abandon the Boy Scout Group he had created five years earlier. His love for Madame Charlin was probably the reason he decided not to attempt a career as a musician, but rather to "go for something more serious".