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Hugo Gernsback

Hugo Gernsbacher was born in Luxembourg in 1884. He got his education in the tschnical schools of Europe, eventually learning telephone & electrical communications equipment. Immigrating to America in 1904, he began a company called the Electric Importing Company, which eventually led to his becoming the editor & publisher of Modern Electrics in 1908. He also founded a radio station, WRNY in 1925 and early television braodcasting. Electric Importing was a fore runner of the Radio Shack, as sellers of radio building equipment by mail. It was the company catalog that eventually became Modern Electrics in 1908.

He wrote some early science fiction novels of which "Ralph 124C 41+" is the most noted & popular. For this novel he used the pen name Ralph 124C 41!!!!

Amazing Stories August 1928 with the first appearance of Buck Rogers. Cover art by Frank R. Paul..

In 1913 he began Electical Experimentor, which became the famous Science and Invention in 1919, and in 1920 he began Radio News. Science and Invention was a competitor to Popular Science Magazine, but it also contained short science fiction novellas. The interest generated by these short stories eventually led Gernsback to publish what would become the most famous of all sf pulps....Amazing Stories, in 1926. An immediate success even though the stories were mostly reprints by H.G.Wells, Jules Verne, Edgar Allen Poe & lesser authors.

In 1913 he noticed Frank Rudolph Paul whose technologically futuristic creations were perfect fit for the covers of these scientific magazines. Paul's intricate designs & his tremendous insight into the future of space travel made him one of the most popular cover artists of the time. Over the years he would illustrate hundreds of covers & inumerable interior illustrations to Gernsback Publications. It was only natural that Paul would become the cover artist on many early issues of Amazing, and it would be difficult to say that without his cover art that Amazing might not have been as successful.

Regardless of success however, the beginning of the depression the bank that loaned money to Gernsback for publishing was forced into closing, which in turn led to Gernsback losing control of the magazine in 1929. He would then began Science Wonder Stories, Air Wonder Stories, Wonder Stories Quarterly & Amazing Detective Tales. These pulp titles did not all last & finally in 1936 Gernsback sold the ramaining title, Wonder Stories to Thrilling Publications.

Wonder Stories January 1933 Frank R.Paul cover Wonder Stories April 1934 Frank R.Paul cover

In 1953 he made a short lived attempt at sf publishing again with Science Fiction Plus, but the magazine failed after a few issues. He did however continue to publish his radio magazine which as Radio-Electronics celebrated 50 years in 1958.

He died in New York's Roosevelt Hospital in 1967. At his death he owned 80 patents, he was decorated as "Officer of the Oaken Crown" by Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxumbourg in 1954 for his service to science & founded the Science Fiction League in 1934, which is recognized as the first club dedicated to fandom.

Recognized as the "Father of Science Fiction" in 1960 the World Science Fiction Convention named their award "The Hugo", known as the most prestigious award in SF.

Read his New York Times Obituary by clicking this link.

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