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Topic Title: Shoenberg and Rosing
Topic Summary: Was Shoenberg a student of Rosing?
Created On: 18 March 2013 11:21 AM
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 18 March 2013 11:21 AM
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The author repeats the often quoted statement that both Zworykin and Shoenberg were students of Rosing. Zworykin undoubtedly was, but was Shoenberg? According to the DNB, Shoenberg was born in 1880 in the Ukraine and studied at Kiev Polytechnic. In 1905 he moved to St Petersburg and worked setting up radio systems in Russia for a company which later became the Russian Marconi company. In 1914 he came to London. Boris Rosing was at the Technological Institute in St Petersburg from around the end of the 19th century to 1931 when he was exiled. Though the two men were in St Petersburg at the same time it would seem unlikely that Shoenberg was ever a student of Rosings. Has anyone further information that would resolve this?
 18 March 2013 05:34 PM
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The link to the article on which jobwilliams is commenting should appear under the topic title above. Apologies for the fault that has prevented this.

The article is entitled "Television technology at the 1948 London Olympics".

David Rossall
The Institution of Engineering and Technology
 22 March 2013 09:40 AM
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Whilst I cannot provide conclusive proof that Shoenberg was or was not a student of Rosing, an examination of Shoenberg's personal papers in the IET archives appears to add some support to the suggestion that Shoenberg was not a student of Shoenberg.

In Schoenberg's papers there is an obituary for Mr S M Aisenstein written by A J Young which Schoenberg was asked to review and which appeared in The Marconi Review, Fourth Quarter 1962. This obituary sheds light on Schoenberg and the situation in Kiev and St Petersburg at the start of the 20th century. The following is an extract from the obituary;

'It seems Aisenstein was extremely interested in the new science of wireless telegraphy and his father appeared to share some of his enthusiasm. He decided to support his son by providing the means for the establishment of a small laboratory of three or four people about 1905. Aisenstein needed some technical help for this company and knew Schoenberg who had graduated from Kiev in 1904. Schoenberg had just married and accepted a job in this new laboratory, living in a flat adjacent to it.

In order to demonstrate the new science, Aisenstein and Shoenberg erected one station at Kiev and a second at Zhmerinka. I understand that they designed as well the 50-metre mast with counterpoise. The detector of the receiver apparently gave most trouble and they experimented with coherers, electrolytic detectors and crystals in turn. After the demonstration of two-way working between Kiev and Zhmerinka, it was clear that other resources had to be brought in if the new science was to be exploited. Aisenstein's father had many contacts in the oil industry and, after some negotiation Tischenko supported the new venture and brought in other shareholders as well. The new company was then founded, when Aisenstein was only 23 years old in 1907.

Tischenko was then made the Chairman of the board, Aisenstein was presumably our equivalent of the Managing Director and Schoenberg was manager of the technical division (chief engineer). It was decided to move the laboratory from Kiev to St Petersburg. The new company first of all developed field stations for the Russian Government. Russian officials at that time had a prejudice in favour of foreign equipment and although they wished to see a Russian source of supply, many doubted whether the technical standard would be good enough. The new company therefore had a good deal of prejudice to overcome.

In 1908 the Marconi Company became interested in the Ruskoje Obstchestwo Bezprowoloeznych Telegrafov I Telefonov (as the company was called), and invited them to send representatives to England. Tischenko and Aisenstein then came to England to visit the Marconi Company. Acquaintance grew as the result of this invitation and in 1911 Marconi's bought a half interest in the Ruskoje Company. So far as we know the negotiations were carried out by Tischenko and Aisenstein with Godfrey Isaacs, the managing director of the Marconi Company. As a result, Colonel Simpson one of the assistants to Godfrey Isaacs, was sent to Russia to become the first managing director of the Russian Marconi Company.... 1914 Schoenberg left Ruskoje Marconi, came to England and joined the parent Marconi Company, apparently leaving Aisenstein to direct the technical work with Simpson still remaining as Managing Director. On the advent of the 1914/1918 War Ruskoje Marconi became responsible for all high-power radio stations in Russia and for the maintenance of communications with the Allies. The expansion of Ruskoje Marconi was apparently pursued with energy and determination and we believe that in 1917 it employed more than 1,000 people.

It is most likely at this period that Aisenstein became acquainted with Vladimir Zworykin, who was employed by the Russian Government, and who no doubt discussed many technical problems with him.'

Given that Schoenberg was the first chief engineer in Tischenko's company, the company developed field stations for the Russian Government, and that Zworykin was employed by the Russian Government, isn't it more likely that Schoenberg knew Zworykin through his day-to-day work in the same way that the obituary writer suggests that Aisenstein became acquainted with Zworykin?

Shoenberg's position in the Russian company between 1908 and 1914 is confirmed by a letter in the archive, dated St Petersburg 'June 11/24th 1914' and which is a reference written by Adrian Simpson, as Managing Director of The Russian Company of Wireless Telegraphy and Telephony, which was written for the attention of 'The Manager, Marconi's Wireless Telegraph Company, Limited, Marconi House, Strand'. The reference says,

'Dear Sir, the bearer of this letter, Mr Schoenberg, is, I Believe, already known to you personally having spent some time in England at the Marconi works. Mr Shoenberg who has been with the company since March 1908 has for some time past had charge of our Technical Department and has fulfilled his duties, many of which have been of a most responsible character, to our fullest satisfaction. Mr Schoenberg is now leaving us at his request as he wishes to start on his own account in England. I have the highest opinion of Mr Schoenberg's technical knowledge and capabilities and would esteem it a personal favour if you would kindly render him any advice and assistance in your power in connection with his plans for the future, which he will explain to you personally.

In conclusion, I can only say that I much regret Mr Schoenberg's decision to leave us and I wish him every success in the future.'

Jon Cable
Assistant Archivist
The Institution of Engineering and Technology
 29 March 2013 12:51 PM
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Thanks. I think you are confirming what I suspected. I don't know why this idea that Shoenberg was a student of Rosing's keeps being repeated. It is a nice idea that Zworykin and Shoenberg were both Rosing's students, but it doesn't seem to be true. As you say, it is probable that the three men knew each other as they were all in the electrical business in St Petersburg at the same time.

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