Friday, March 2, 2012

Arthur A. Collins & Collins Radio


Among the references frequently used on the Air Force One Radio Transmission Tapes from 11/22/63 is the word “Liberty,” which is the station base the pilots and ground radio operators call to obtain a frequency on which to call or to obtain a better frequency or to obtain a patch relay to Air Force One or another plane in the Special Air Mission (SAM) network, including Air Force Two, the plane LBJ flew to Texas, the administration cabinet’s plane (86972) over the Pacific and the cargo plane used to carry the automobiles. The Strategic Air Command (SAC) and others also used the “Liberty” station as a relay base.

Theodore H. White, in his book The Making of a President 1964, wrote, "There is a tape recording in the archives of the Government which best recaptures the sound of the hours as it waited for leadership. It is a recording of all the conversations in the air, monitored by the [Army] Signal Corps Midwestern center "Liberty," between Air Force One in Dallas, the Cabinet plane over the Pacific, and the Joint Chiefs' Communication Center in Washington," the official LBJ Library transcript misidentifies it and the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) analysts considered it “unknown,” when they reviewed the LBJ tape in 1995.

As the ARRB analysist for Military records Doug Horne noted in his Memo on the subject, the use of strict security codes broke down completely on November 22, 1963, not only when 86972 could not identify “Stranger,” who was issuing them orders from the White House Situation Room, because their code book was missing, but they began to frequently discard code names for their real names almost routinely. And “Liberty” one of the code names they discarded on occasion, instead calling it, “Cedar Rapids.”

“Liberty,’ the “Midwest” relay station in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is the glass “Fish Bowl” radio communications room at the Collins Radio Company headquarters, which is described in the Collins Radio Yearly Reports for 1962, 1963 and 1964 as well as the official 50 year history of the Collins Radio Company. The official company history notes: “Air Force One, the Presidential airplane, was placed in service in 1962 using communications equipment developed and manufactured by Collins. The aircraft...was modified to meet special requirements…In 1962, the station that many remember as ‘Liberty’ was opened and operated from the new communications building…(in Cedar Rapids, Iowa)...Collins had a contact with the Air Force to serve as either the primary communications station or as a backup whenever Air Force One, the presidential aircraft, and other aircraft it the VIP fleet carried cabinet members or high ranking military officers. Over the airwaves the station’s call word was ‘Liberty.’”

The reason why Collins Radio’s “Liberty” station was utilized for furnishing frequencies and relaying communication messages was because they used Collins radios and the Collins system was an integral part of the presidential and military communications network, which later (in 1967) became known as Mystic Star.

They were located there because Cedar Rapids, Iowa was the home of the founder of the Collins Radio Company, Arthur A. Collins, as recorded in the company’s official history.


Early amateur radio operators were mainly hobbyists, but there was a sense of discovery during the infancy of radio that provided something more. Radio was the new thing, comparable to what computers mean to technological whizzes in the 1980s. And like the computer hobbyists of today who are writing their own programs and building their own equipment, amateur radio operators in the 1920s were contributing to the knowledge of practical aspects of radio art.

One person caught up in the excitement of radio was Arthur Andrew Collins. Born in Kingfisher, Oklahoma, on September 9, 1909, Collins moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, at an early age when his father, Merle (or M. H. as he preferred to see it written), established The Collins Farms Company there.

At about the age of nine, Arthur Collins became deeply interested in the new marvel of radio, although at first M. H. apparently did not think highly of his son's tinkerings with radio. Arthur and another early boyhood radio devotee, Merrill Lund, made their first crystal receivers at the Lund home at 1644 D Avenue in Cedar Rapids.

A neighbor's recollection of early days in the Collins family neighborhood: "We sensed that Arthur was different, but we did not know that he was a genius. When the rest of us were out playing cowboy and Indian, Arthur was in the house working on his radios."

The Federal Radio Commission, the predecessor to the Federal Communications Commission, passed a radio act whereby amateurs could get licenses. Arthur took the test and got his license in 1923 at the age of 14.

During the winter of 1924-25, Collins had become familiar with John Reinartz, a 31-year-old German immigrant who was prominent in radio circles because he developed a "tuner" or receiver capable of predictable selectivity and reception. Reinartz had authored several articles on the subject for radio magazines. Reinartz and Collins carried on experiments, particularly in the use of short wavelengths.


Because of Reinartz's radio success, he was chosen as the radio operator for a scientific expedition to the continent of Greenland. The MacMillan expedition set sail from the coast of Maine on the ships Bowdoin and Perry in early 1925. One of the explorers was U.S. Navy Lt. Cdr. Richard E. Byrd. The plan was for the Bowdoin to make daily radio reports to the U.S. Naval radio station, but because of atmospheric problems, the land station in Washington, D.C., was unable to consistently receive Reinartz's messages.

Then word spread that a 15-year-old boy in Cedar Rapid's had made contact with the expedition. Throughout the summer of 1925, Arthur Collins accomplished a task that even the U.S. Navy found difficult. Using a ham radio that he himself had built, he talked by code with Reinartz in Greenland night after night. His signals reached the expedition more clearly than any other. After each broadcast, young Collins took the messages from the expedition down to the Cedar Rapids telegraph office and relayed to Washington the scientific findings that the exploratory group had uncovered that day.

Collins' exclusive contact with the expedition soon became a nationwide news story that won him acclaim as a radio wizard. The August 4, 1925 Cedar Rapids Gazette told the story: "The mysterious forces of air leaped the boundary of thousands of miles to bring Cedar Rapids in touch with the celebrated MacMillan scientific expedition at Etah, Greenland, and wrote a new chapter into the history of radio. Sunday, Arthur Collins, 514 Fairview Drive, 15-year-old radio wizard, picked up the message from the expedition's ship Bowdin, at twenty meters (wavelength), at about 3 o'clock and conversed in continental code for more than one hour. It was the first time the expedition and any United States radio station had communicated at that wavelength. Messages were received by Collins for the National Geographic Society, which is sponsoring the expedition, and for others, and were sent out from here by telegraph. Arthur Collins is the son of Mr. and Mrs. M. H. Collins and is a student at Washington High School. He has been a radio fan for years, and has himself constructed most of his apparatus. His equipment is in a small room on the third floor of the Collins home. His station is known as 9CXX. The local boy told a Gazette reporter today that although he had been in wireless communication with Australia, Scotland, England, India, Puerto Rico, Guam, and Mexico, he never had received a greater thrill than when he talked to his friend on the famous expedition bound northward to explore a mystic continent."


Collins continued his electronics education by taking courses at Amherst College in Massachusetts, Coe College in Cedar Rapids, and the University of Iowa in Iowa City.
In 1927, he and two friends organized an expedition of sorts of their own. Collins, Paul Engle, and Winfield Salisbury outfitted a truck with short wave transmitting and receiving equipment and took a summer trip to the southwest states. Using power of 10 watts they conducted experiments in connection with the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C. Leo Hruska stayed behind in Cedar Rapids to operate the base station for the study.

Like Collins, both Engle and Salisbury would later go on to achieve recognition in their particular chosen fields - Engle as a poet and professor at the University of Iowa, and Salisbury as a noted physicist who would make significant contributions to studies initiated by Collins.


In 1930, Collins married Margaret Van Dyke. By the end of 1931 he had set up a shop in the basement of their home at 1620 6th Avenue S.E., previously the home of his grandparents. Arthur began to produce transmitters to order.

When the depression hit with full force in 1931, 23-year-old Collins turned his hobby into a vocation. "I picked what I was interested in," he told Forbes magazine years later, "and looked for a way to make a living." This was the first time radio transmitting apparatus, of any power output, was available for purchase as an assembled and working unit. In fact, components were hard to come by; they varied widely in characteristics, and there was little, if any, pattern to their construction. Most hams had their radio equipment scattered around a room, usually in a basement or attic where the sight of tubes and wires wouldn't clutter up living areas of a home. Their equipment was strictly functional, almost to the point of inefficiency.

Collins' ham gear was designed to eliminate the clutter by packaging the equipment in neat units. The concept proved that correctly engineered construction not only stabilized the circuitry but also made its behavior predictable. Collins designed circuits, fabricated chassis, mounted and wired in components, tested, packed and shipped each unit. Because the gear was precisely engineered and well-built with the best parts available, it gave years of trouble-free service.

A later article in the New York Times quoted a ham as saying, "Collins brought us up from the cellar and put us into the living room." The industrial philosophy of Collins products "quality" was established at the very start.

The first advertisement for this new line of products appeared in the January, 1932 issue of QST, with the firm name given as Arthur A. Collins. Two issues later, in March, 1932, the firm name appeared as Collins Radio Transmitters with Arthur's name and call number below. Both notices were two-inch advertisements, but by May the size was increased to six inches. In October the first full-page ad appeared and by December, the firm's name was listed as Collins Radio Company.

Orders came in and the company grew. In 1933, Collins Radio Company moved out of the basement factory and into leased space at 2920 First Avenue in Cedar Rapids, now headquarters for the local Salvation Army.

On September 22, 1933, with eight employees and $29,000 in capital, Collins Radio Company became a corporation under the laws of the State of Delaware. At that time Delaware had some of the most modern corporation laws in the country, and many businesses were officially organizing there, although their actual facilities were located in other states. (On May 13, 1937, the company reorganized as an Iowa corporation.)


The company first achieved nationwide fame and recognition due to another scientific expedition, this time that of Admiral Richard Byrd's 1933-1934 trip to the Antarctic. Byrd, a member of the 1925 MacMillan expedition, was impressed with Collins' technological wizardry and employed him to produce and supply the entirety of the Antarctic expedition's radio equipment. The equipment enjoyed great success; it was using CRC radios that Byrd made the first formal radio broadcast from Antarctica on February 3, 1934. Word of Collins' success spread rapidly and the young company quickly increased the sales of its transmitters and receivers.


The company grew through the 1930s, and gradually broadened its product line. One of CRC's more significant products included the "Autotune", a device allowing for quick and easy switching between radio frequencies by airplane pilots. The Autotune not only introduced a easy method of cockpit radio control but also launched CRC into the world of avonics equipment production. Although CRC continued to produce new generations of radio equipment (including, starting in 1958, the S Line of equipment that was designed to function as an integrated system rather than as individual products), it became a major leader in aerospace technology. Collins communications technology was used for civilian and defense operations, as well as the American Gemini, Mercury, Apollo and Skylab space programs.


Collins Radio Company (CRC) quickly outgrew its original headquarters in Cedar Rapids, and expanded operations. By 1943 defense contracts obliged the company to lease space in over 20 buildings across the city. (After the war CRC consolidated its operations into a smaller number of Cedar Rapids locations.) In 1946 CRC opened a sales office in Los Angeles - this office was moved to Burbank in 1949 and became the center of the company's growing Western Division. In 1951 CRC established a new plant near Dallas, Texas, and an Information Science Center designed for research into new data communications equipment was built in Newport Beach, CA in 1961. (CRC West Coast operations ere moved here from Burbank that same year.) International subsidiaries were founded in Mexico, England and Canada.


Collins' single sideband products have long been used by the U.S. military team. During the early years of single side-band communication, the size and weight of the equipment limited its use principally to point-to-point circuits between fixed stations. Continued development following World War II has resulted in a wide variety of high performance equipment for airborne, transportable, vehicular and shipboard, as well as fixed station, use.


One distinguished scientist to come to Collins Radio Company in the post war period was Dr. Alexander Lippisch. His Delta I glider, built in 1930, was converted into a powerful plane and shown flight to the public in 1931. Lippisch further developed his idea and designed the first high speed rocket-powered aircraft, the ME 163 Komet, wich flew 625 miles per hour for the German Luftwaffe in 1941. As Nazi Germany collapsed in the spring of 1945, the United States raced in to grab as many of the highly skilled German scientists as possible. Under code name "Operation Paperclip" Dr. Lippisch was one of 50 German scientists brought to the United States. Dr. Lippisch joined Collins Radio in February 1950, as head of aerodynamical research. It was here that he developed the Aerodyne, an unusual wingless aircraft. The Aerodne project, funded by the Office of Naval Research, took place at the Collins Aeronautical Research Laboratory at Cedar Rapids Airport...The project was skuttled in 1962.


General Curtis LeMay, commander of the U.S. Air Force Strategic Air Command and himself a radio operator, was aware of Collins Progress...In 1955 Collins was selected by the Air Force to develop, test and install a complete single sideband air-ground and point-to-point communications system. The project was known as "Birdcall."

[At some point Art Collins met Cutis LeMay, the Air Force General who reportedly was also a ham radio enthusiast.]

Among the Collins Radio files at the University of Iowa are file labeled:
“Griswold, General Francis H. (SAC), 1954-1964 (2 folders) - [contains letters to Arthur A Collins from General Curtis E. LeMay, November 17, 1954 and June 16, 1956]; Texas Division, 1958-1965 Strategic Air Command ("Short Order" System), 1960 (2 folders)
Collins, Arthur A.: Correspondence, 1936-1973 (15 folders) - [contains letter to AAC from Admiral Richard Byrd, May 10, 1936 (copy)] Byrd Expedition Equipment, 1934
Curtis E. LeMay, July 9, 1958; Operation T-Bird, 1964]; Strategic Air Command Visit (by Arthur A Collins), 1954; Collins Equipment - Andrews Air Force Base, n.d.; Far Eastern Trip: Strategic Air Command (AAC), 1956; National Security Forum (War College, Air University), 1960...”


The Strategic Air Command commanders' net, the Strategic Air Command aircraft control net and the Navy Tactical Data System are but a few of the major installations using Collins' single sideband. The Universal Radio Group, latest generation of Collins' SSB equipment, is a highly flexible and sophisticated HF communication design used by the U.S. Armed Forces, NATO and space centers.

Collins Radio Company Annual Report for the Year Ending July 31, 1962

To the Stockholders and Employees of Collins Radio Company, p. 5


Several important operational changes occurred during the year. Activities of the Texas and Alpha Divisions were merged in December to form the Dallas Division…

The International Division, which guides the Company’s manufacturing and marketing operations abroad, reported significant increase in orders booked. Continued emphasis is being placed on the sale of communications systems. During the year the International Division organized sales subsidiaries in Rome and Mexico City, to further expand its effort….

Products and Achievements

Perhaps the most significant development of the year was the establishment of the Company as the nation’s leading supplier of communication equipment for manned space craft. Our equipment functioned flawlessly on the first orbital flights of the Mercury vehicles. The Company provides high frequency ultra high frequency communications, telemetry, command control, precision tracking and rescue beacon functions for the Mercury capsules.

….Work was completed on a single sideband network linking headquarters and all regional offices of the Office of Civil Defense, and a jeep mounted transceiver for Marine Corps use…

From The First 50 Years – A History of Collins Radio Company and the Collins Division of Rockwell International, by Ken C. Braband

...One of the best known customers in the ham community was Dr. James M. B. Hard of Mexico City. He chose Collins equipment in 1933 for his new installation, and had it specaily designed for his needs...weekends away from the city…

Branif Airways became the first airline to equip its entire fleet with Collins Radio equipment and American followed. During World War II Collins was engaged entirely in work for the military and government. Collins equipment was installed aboard PT boats, Navy fighters and B-29 bombers...

Another area of broadcast radio equipment for Collins Radio Company in the post-war years as equipment for the State Department’s Voice of America network. In the conflict of ideologies with the Communist block countries, later coined the “Cold War,” the weapons was radio. In 1950 the VOA began an expansion to lengthen its radio time, and Collins had a big part in equipping the radio ship Courier for its debute in the propaganda war. The project, called “Operation Vagabond,” was a facet of the “ring plan” designed to ring all of the world’s critical areas with extremely high-powered communications facilities.

The Feather Ridge studies by Dr. Dale McCoy and C.M. Hepperle, led to construction by Collins of a giant aluminum dish antenna for the Naval Laboratory at Anacostia, D.C. in 1950.

With increasing military orders, Collins was urged by the Defense Department to consider decentralization of its facilities for security reasons. Managemnt began to build a $1 million plant near the Dallas, Texas suburb of Richardson….Collins also announced plans to lease a hanger at nearby Redbird Airport to install and repair airborne equipment. James Flynn, Jr. from American Airlines was named general manager, w.G. Pappenfus director of manufacturing, Harold Moss manager of test and instpetion and Arthur Luebs was named senior buyer for the Texas Division.

“Our decision to locate the new plant in Texas is in line with the current practice of separating production plants geographically for security reasons,” Arthur Collins explained. “So long as we are locating another plant away from our main operation, we picked a place close to the heart of the aviation industry and wher the weather would give us more uniform test flight conditions. We found exactly the conditions we were looking for in Texas.” In 1952 Collins installed an experimental communications link beween its Cedar Rapids Airport laboratory and its new Dallas laboratory.

...Collins Radio of Canada was ofunded in 1953 as a wholly-owned subsidiary…with offices in Ottawa. In 1954 the headquarters moved to Toronto, with a research and development lab....

When screaming mobs in Venezuela besieged Vice President Richard Nixon and his party in 1958, immediate communications was urgently needed with Washington D.C. Phone lines leading out of Caracas were completely tied up by the crisis, so Nixon’s pilot and longtime ham, Colonel Tommy Collins (no relation) …fired up the set and in minutes was in direct contact with the White House through phone patches by American amateur ham radio operators….

...most technology advancements were quickly recruited for the military. The United States bombers in the air on a 24-hour basis, ready for any threat of war….General Curtis LeMay, commander of the U.S. Air Force Strategic Air Command and himself a radio operator, was aware of Collins Radio’s progress…..In 1955, Collins was selected to develop, test and install a complete single sideband air-ground and point-to-point communications system. The project was known as “Birdcall.”

North American Avisation built the first three X-15 rocket planes in 1957, and Collins Radio received a contract for the communications/navigation system. In 1957, Collins again demonstrated the advantages of the single sideband during the first non-stop, around-the-world flight of three of the Air Force’s B-52 bombers. “We can now make instant contact with any of our more than 2,000 bombers whether they are at the North Pole or South,” said General Griswold in 1960.

Comm. Central was built in 1958 in an area of Building 120 known as Lab 12. The Lab 12 station was used to research high frequency communications in conjuction with the military Short Order Program...

Incorporated in Texas in 1959, Alpha Corporation extendd Collins’ activities for the detailed management of space age technical projects, both in the United States and abroad. Headquartered in Richardson, Texas, the company was staffed to design, construct and install complex government and commercial systems. This not only included each electronic system involved, but also the complete “turnkey” installations with buildings, roads, towers – everything down to the washroom and the lock on the door. After installation, Alpha provided training for customer engineers and technicians assigned to the installation, or furnished complete crews of skilled specialists to staff the finished projects.

Max Burrell, a vice president of the parent company, was made president of Alpha Corporation. John Nyquist was VP and general manager…One of the biggest contracts for Alpha was the Strategic Air Command’s “Short Order” communications network….Alpha also did important work for he Pacific Missile Range, the tactical data and multi-purpose communications systems for the U.S. Navy.

In 1961, Alpha Corporation was changed from a subsidiary to a division within Collins Radio Company. The following year, Alpha Division and the Texas Division were merged to form the Dallas Division

Air Force One, the Presidential airplane, was placed into service in 1962 using communications equipment developed and manufactured by Collins. The aircraft, a vC-137, military version of the Boeing 707 airliner, was modified to meet the special requirements of flying the President.

In 1962, the station many remember as “Liberty” was opened and operated from the new communications and data building (Building 121). The operators called the station the “fish bowl” because of the glass walls. The Cedar Rapids station became known as “Liberty” during the 1960s when Communications Central was involved with Andrews (Air Force Base, Washington D.C.) VIP network. Collins had a contract with the Air Force to serve as either the primary communications station or as a backup whenever Air Force One, the presidential aircraft, or other aircraft in the VIP fleet carried cabinet members or high-ranking military officers. Over the airwaves the station’s call word was “Liberty.”


From 1962 to 1969 Art Collins served as Director of the Graduate Research Center of the Southwest, Dallas, Texas, and lived at 13601 Preston Road, Dallas, Texas 75240.

The University of Texas at Dallas, also referred to as UT Dallas or UTD, is a public research university in the University of Texas System. The main campus is in the heart of the Richardson, Texas, Telecom Corridor, 18 miles north of downtown Dallas. The institution, established in 1961 as the Graduate Research Center of the Southwest and later renamed the Southwest Center for Advanced Studies (SCAS), began as a research arm of Texas Instruments.

The Graduate Research Center would have two components; Southwest Center for Advanced Studies and the Institute for Graduate Education and Research. The idea was to interface with universities to provide graduate education and research opportunities that would encourage the accumulation of intellectual and scientific talent in the Texas area.

By fall 1964 the Southwest Center for Advanced Studies was located in a new home in Richardson and was headed by Professor Lloyd Berkner. There were to be laboratories specializing in Earth and Planetary Science, Materials Science, Molecular Sciences, Electronics, and Computer Sciences. The Center would be home for permanent faculty, visiting professors and post doctoral research associates.

President John F. Kennedy: "I am honored to have this invitation to address the annual meeting of the Dallas Citizens Council, joined by the members of the Dallas Assembly — and pleased to have this opportunity to salute the Graduate Research Center of the Southwest. It is fitting that these two symbols of Dallas progress are united in the sponsorship of this meeting. For they represent the best qualities, I am told, of leadership and learning in this city — and leadership and learning are indispensable to each other. The advancement of learning depends on community leadership for financial and political support and the products of that learning, in turn, are essential to the leadership's hopes for continued progress and prosperity. It is not a coincidence that those communities possessing the best in research and graduate facilities — from MIT to Cal Tech — tend to attract the new and growing industries. I congratulate those of you here in Dallas who have recognized these basic facts through the creation of the unique and forward-lookingGraduate Research Center." - Excerpt from a speech that was to be given on Nov. 22, 1963, by President John F. Kennedy, during a luncheon ceremony at the Dallas Trade Mart.

President Lyndon B. Johnson: "The Graduate Research Center of the Southwest, under the leadership of Dr. Berkner, helps to fill a vital need for the vigorous future of Texas and the Southwest. It has long had my admiration and my support. - President Lyndon Johnson

President Lyndon B. Johnson's words were taped on October 27, 1964, for use on October 29, 1964 at the dedication of the Graduate Research Center of the Southwest. The center was founded in 1961 by Cecil Green, Erik Jonsson and Eugene McDermott and was renamed the Southwest Center for Advanced Studies in 1967. In 1969, it joined the University of Texas System to become UT Dallas.


Introduced in 1956, the Collins KWM-1 transceiver was a breakthrough product that featured a 100 watt single-sideband transmitter and receiver in one compact package. The U-2 spy plane piloted by Francis Gary Powers, which was shot down over the Soviet Union on May 1, 1960, carried a KWM-1 operating on a secret CIA frequency.


Despite the company's success throughout the World War II and postwar decades, it faced major problems starting in the 1960s. The de-escalation of the Vietnam War meant the end of many defense contracts for the company, and the gradual slowdown of the American space program created a reduced market for many types of space and avionics technologies. Furthermore, Collins had invested a significant portion of his company's time and resources in the C-System, a completely integrated "communication, computation and control system" that would combine all major functions of an enterprise into a single workable system. However, despite the massive investment in the C-System, sales of components and equipment were tepid, and by the end of the 1960s CRC was rapidly losing money.


In 1971 North American Rockwell began investing heavily in CRC, enough to achieve a controlling interest. Increased financial losses in fiscal years 1971-1972 convinced Rockwell to shake up existing CRC management. In November 1971, the Rockwell-controlled board of directors removed Collins as president and board chairman of his own company. On December 7, Collins officially resigned from the company he had founded 40 years before, and created a new firm, Arthur A. Collins, Inc.

After leaving Collins Radio in 1972, he formed a new firm, Arthur A. Collins, Inc., based in Dallas, to carry out systems engineering studies in the communications and computer fields.

Following Collins' ouster from CRC, the company made a major recovery effort, turning away from its immense commitment to the C-System, introducing strict fiscal controls, restructuring the company's management and divisional organization, and continuing the development of overseas markets. By the first half of 1973 the company was making noticeable financial improvements (from a $17 million loss in 1972 to a $3 million profit in 1973). In the midst of this newfound success, North American Rockwell (renamed Rockwell International in February 1973) moved to formally merge itself with CRC. The merger was approved on November 2, 1973, which meant the effective end of Collins Radio Company as an independent enterprise. However, Collins' name on the company he founded still survives with the existence of Rockwell Collins, Inc., the former Rockwell avionics division which was spun off its parent company in 2001. Rockwell Collins continues to be headquartered in Cedar Rapids, and is a leading producer of avionics technologies.

[Taken primarily from Collins Radio Company Annual Reports (1962, 1963, 1964) "The First 50 Years ...A History of Collins Radio Company" by: Ken C. Braband. 1983 Communications Department, Avionics Group, Rockwell International, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.]

Years ago I interviewed Don Kimball, a personal friend of Art Collins who had lunch with him every Saturday afternoon. This is what he said:

Don L. Kimball, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, knew Arthur Collins, founder of Collins Radio.

“Art Collins, Arthur Collins, founder of Collins Radio, is now dead. Art Collins was a radio man in Cedar Rapids since when I was born in 1933. He was worth close to a billion dollars when he died. His company is now owned by Rockwell International, which is quoted on the New York Stock Exchange. Now they’re into space. I wish I had taken some Collins stock back in the 50s.”

“Now there’s a Collins Road running right along there, and there’s Collins Plaza. Art was a noble individual. There’s not the remotest possibility, there isn’t a chance in the world that he was involved in any conspiracy to kill the President, although his company did get very big and some of his people could have been involved in some shennagans.”

“Art, even when he was chairman of the board, he would rather putter around with some electronics than chair a board meeting. It was just his nature.”

“He started out as an ordinary Iowa boy and he never stopped being that, even when he had a billion dollar company, even when he had 10,000 employees. He still fooled around with inventing stuff, electronics, space, radios….”

“I used to have lunch with him on Saturdays, and you wouldn’t know Art if he would walk in here. Unless you had his bank book, you would have never known what he did. He started getting government contracts during World War II.”

“I’m not authority on Art Collins, he was just a fantastic person. He was married, but I don’t know anything about his offspring. He died an old man, maybe 80 years old, some 15 years ago. He’d be a hundred today.”

“He’d come down to Bishop’s Cafeteria in Cedar Rapids in the 50s and 60s, you wouldn’t know him to be anybody. He was a real, down to earth guy.

Ernie Ernest Kosek was a friend of Art. He’s now 85, and still very lucid. He was on the Mental Health panel with Rockefeller. Call him Senator, he was an Iowa State Senator, as I was.

BK Notes: I believe this analysis of Art Collins, as other long time Collins employees have said the same thing about him. While Collins himself may not have been involved in any conspiracy to kill anyone, he allowed, for patriotic reasons, his company to be used by the CIA.


Linda Minor said...

A fascinating (at least to me) connection to the Collins family is the former candidate from Texas for U.S. Senator a few years ago, Richard W. Fisher, son in law of Richard Miles Collins.

Bill Kelly said...

Any info you can provide to further this research would be greatly appreciated, Linda. Many thanks for your input.

couryhouse said...

Collins, Paul Engle, and Winfield Salisbury outfitted a truck with short wave transmitting and receiving equipment...etc etc etc etc"

unfortunately this is the same thing we see everywhere... wish there was more detail from Collins notes or ???

we have Salisbury's archives at SMECC in AZ... but little mention of this incident.

when Win was alive I wish we had asked him more about this.... most of our conversations were Re: ECM and Radar development.

couryhouse said...

Again Re: "Collins, Paul Engle, and Winfield Salisbury outfitted a truck with short wave transmitting and receiving equipment...etc etc etc etc"

Collins museum seems to be a real dead end to for this issue to bring more depth to it.

Think about it.... if this had really been a real big deal in their lives more documentation would still exist in the records of Engle, Collins or Salisbury....


Probably the neatest thing that exists from the endeavor is that photo of the three in front of the vehicle!

Ed Sharpe Archivist for SMECC