July 28, 2021
To the Editor,
I very much enjoyed reading Mayor Marvin’s recent column about famous Westchester residents (“From The Mayor: JFK Wrote Much of His Harvard Thesis in Bronxville & Other Fascinating Local Facts”, July 21, 2021), which included a deserved reference to the role of Yonkers resident Edwin Armstrong in developing -- among other things -- FM radio technology (which produces decidedly superior sound fidelity compared to AM technology).
Any short list of distinguished Bronxville (let alone Westchester) residents will necessarily be incomplete, but the Mayor’s mention of Mr. Armstrong reminded me of the longtime Bronxville resident Arthur C. Keller. Keller, a modest but brilliant Columbia and Yale educated electrical engineer, joined Bell Laboratories in 1925. Although his early work included helping bring sound to what had previously been “silent movies,” Keller is best remembered for making the first known high-fidelity recordings of orchestral music in 1931 and 1932, and for a subsequent lifetime of pioneering work in stereophonic recording technology. The nascent recording business was allegedly not keen on Keller’s innovations, but at the start of the 1930’s Keller’s work received key support from the legendary maestro Leopold Stokowski, who was dissatisfied with the sound quality of existing sound recording technology. According to Keller’s obituary in The New York Times, Keller’s Bell Labs team, with Stokowski’s support, proceeded to record, the first known set of “stereophonic” recordings using the new technology and equipment that Keller and his Bell Labs colleagues had installed in the Academy of Music auditorium to record Stokowski conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra. Keller later received US patent number 2,114,471 in April 1938 for his idea of recording the two channels of a stereo recording in one record groove and his development of a new type of phonograph stylus -- which made commercial stereo recordings for phonographs possible.
The logical marriage of FM radio technology with the stereo-recorded plastic disks in the form of “FM stereo radio” would not come until after WWII (it took a while for the radio industry to develop radio networks that transmitted in FM) – and of course today the compact disk has replaced plastic stereo records. Nonetheless, Keller merits inclusion in any list of Bronxville’s (and Westchester’s) distinguished inventors and innovators.
Keller received the Emile Berliner Award from the Audio Engineering Society in 1962 for “outstanding developments in stereophonic disk recording”, and after his retirement he received the AES’s Gold Medal in 1981 for lifetime achievement. He also received two citations from the United States Navy for his work during World War II on sonar systems and other devices. At his death in Bronxville in 1983 at age 82, he had been granted 40 American patents and 150 international patents in the fields of electromechanics, sound recording and reproduction, sonar, switching apparatus, electronic heating, magnetic tape, and telephone systems.
In all events, Arthur Keller is a Bronxville name that merits remembering!
Editor's note: MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements in letters to the editor, and the opinions do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff. Its objective in publishing letters to the editor is to give air to diverse thoughts and opinions of residents in the community.
Bronxville is a quaint village (one square mile) located just 16 miles north of midtown Manhattan (roughly 30 minutes on the train) and has a population of approximately 6,500. It is known as a premier community with an excellent public school (K-12) and easy access to Manhattan. Bronxville offers many amenities including an attractive business district, a hospital (Lawrence Hospital), public paddle and tennis courts, fine dining at local restaurants, two private country clubs and a community library.
While the earliest settlers of Bronxville date back to the first half of the 18th century, the history of the modern suburb of Bronxville began in 1890 when William Van Duzer Lawrence purchased a farm and commissioned the architect, William A. Bates, to design a planned community of houses for well-known artists and professionals that became a thriving art colony. This community, now called Lawrence Park, is listed on the National register of Historic Places and many of the homes still have artists’ studios. A neighborhood association within Lawrence Park called “The Hilltop Association” keeps this heritage alive with art shows and other events for neighbors.
Bronxville offers many charming neighborhoods as well as a variety of living options for residents including single family homes, town houses, cooperatives and condominiums. One of the chief benefits of living in “the village” is that your children can attend the Bronxville School.
The Bronxville postal zone (10708, known as “Bronxville PO”) includes the village of Bronxville as well as the Chester Heights section of Eastchester, parts of Tuckahoe and the Lawrence Park West, Cedar Knolls, Armour Villa and Longvale sections of Yonkers. Many of these areas have their own distinct character. For instance, the Armour Villa section has many historic homes and even has its own newsletter called “The Villa Voice” which reports on neighborhood news.
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