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By Charles W., Jr. Carey, Ian C. Friedman

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And a few years later welcomed a daughter they named Barbara. Though only in his 20s, Bechtel became a vice president in his father’s business, W. A. , and he played an important role in helping lead the company into what became the very lucrative business of pipeline construction. In 1933, Bechtel’s father died suddenly while on a trip in Russia, and Stephen assumed leadership of the growing company. At the time of his father’s death and his subsequent ascension to the presidency of Bechtel, the company was already engaged in its greatest project: construction of the Hoover Dam.

Known as the superheterodyne circuit, this invention became a basic feature of VHF wave reception. Early commercial radio broadcasting impressed information on a carrier wave via amplitude modulation (AM), which varies the carrier wave’s power. AM signals can be sent long distances and are perfectly suited for simple broadcasts such as talking or unaccompanied singing. However, AM is not well-suited for complex broadcasts such as a symphonic performance, and it is easily disrupted by static from electrical storms and random electric interference from machines.

Although the London system was a success, sulfurous fumes from the locomotives often choked and irritated passengers, a problem Beach’s subway would avoid. But when Beach applied to the governor of New York for a charter to construct an extended version of his pneumatic people mover under the entire city, he was turned down twice. In 1873 a new governor granted the charter, but the panic of 1873 prevented Beach from raising sufficient funds with which to build a city-wide system, and he abandoned the project.

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