Perham Collection Creator Profile: Seefred Brothers

Brothers Howard C. (6EA) and Lyndon F. Seefred (6EB) were early amateur operators in Los Angeles, California, operating station W6EA on South Fremont Avenue. They were heavily involved in the amateur scene in Los Angeles and Pasadena, and recorded many firsts in Pacific radio communications.

Lyndon and Howard Seefred, ca. 1916 (Perham Collection of Early Electronics)

Howard Seefred recounts the beginning of his interest in wireless in one of his early log books: “In the winter of 1908, I became interested in the study of wireless. One day, I got hold of a copy of the ‘Modern Electrics’ and after reading same, I thought I would construct a receiving set. After same was made, which consisted of a single slide tuner, a big telephone receiver, a fixed condenser, and a iron pyrites detector, I began hearing amateurs around in the city including two commercial stations. Later on, I bought a watch case receiver and made a double slide tuner. When this was done, I was able to ‘pick up’ signals as far as ‘TM’ (Point Loma). My antenna was thirty feet long and twenty-five feet high. The ground connection was made on a water pipe. In 1910, I bought a 3/4 inch ‘National’ automobile coil from Harry Carson (1219 W. 5th St., Los Angeles) for fifty cents, which was my very first spark coil.”

The Seefreds’ station log books, diaries, and scrapbooks were donated to the Foothill Electronics Museum in 1970 by Howard’s son, and are now part of the Perham Collection of Early Electronics. They are in excellent condition, and provide richly detailed information on wireless activity in California, particularly Southern California, between 1900-1945. The log books list daily incoming and outgoing transmissions, as well as diary entries about travel and personal experiences. Scrapbooks contain a wealth of clippings about the Seefreds’ work as radio operators, their professional careers, and the history of amateur wireless operators in Southern California, particularly during the years 1905-1930.

By 1910, Howard Seefred was monitoring stations as far away as Friday Harbor and Seattle, Washington. In 1916, he logged Funabashi, Japan, on a Galena crystal set. The QST for September 1916 includes a feature on the Seefred Brothers station 6EA, and reports that they were also elected District Managers for Pacific Coast Trunk Line routes B and F. In February of 1917, the Seefreds successfully transmitted a wireless coast-to-coast relay message from their Los Angeles station to New York, a feat that was recounted in the local newspaper. Their “Long Distance Record” in QST (May 1917) reports contact with WRD 1,289 miles west of San Francisco enroute to Hong Kong. In July 1920, they again made headlines in the Pacific Radio News, reporting that “For the first time in the history of amateur radio on the Pacific Coast an amateur station has been heard in Honolulu.” In February 1923, they were part of record-shattering amateur transmissions between North America and New Zealand. As managers of the A.R.R.L. Pacific Division, the Seefreds continued to provide regular reports of their transmissions through QST magazine. Station U-6EA, a 40-metre radio station operated by Howard Seefred, was featured in Radio magazine in April 1926, and in June 1929, the Los Angeles Times reported their contacts with Commander Byrd’s South Pole expedition.

Both Seefred brothers were lifelong employees of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, working as electric meter readers. Their exploits as amateur operators were occasionally featured in the corporate magazine, including one titled, “Short Wave Radio Amateurs Abound,” in January 1933. Interviewed for INTAKE in 1938, Lyndon Seefred acknowledged, “Like this work? Sure I do. I like being outdoors and being able to make friends of the consumers along my route. It was through one of them that I met my wife.” Both were married, with children, and members of the Old Old Timers Club.