About inventor Rudolf Hell
HELL was a manufacturer of teleprinter, fax and
cipher machines, based
in Kiel (Germany).
The company was founded in 1929 by Rudolf Hell, one of Germany's most
important and most productive inventors of the previous century.
Nevertheless, Hell is generally not well-known.
Rudolf Hell was born in 1901 and invented his first device, the so-called
Hellschreiber in 1925. It was patented in 1929, when he started his own
company in Babelsberg, Berlin (Germany) .
Before and during WWII, he produced Hellschreibers for the German
Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe.
After WWII, the company was re-established and Rudolf Hell kept inventing.
Rudolf Hell is also the inventor and patent-holder of the modern Fax (1956),
a colour scanner (1963) and a CRT-based computer typesetter
(Datensichtgerät, 1965). Computer-based typesetters would be used
by the printing industry for the next several decades, and is now commonly
known as Desktop Publishing.
During his lifetime, Hell was awarded numerous times. He received, for example,
the Knight Commander's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic
of Germany, the Werner von Siemens Ring and the Eduard Rhein Ring of Honour.
In 1977, Rudolf Hell was awarded the Gutenberg Prize by the City of Mainz.
In his Laudation, Prof. Hermann Zapf (known for his Zapf-Dingbats and Palatino
typefaces), called him
the Edison of the Graphic Industry .
Over the years a wide variety of machines was built by HELL, but also
by Siemens und Halske to whom they licenced several
designs. HELL also built cipher machines under licence from other manufacturers,
such as the H-54
(basically a copy of the Hagelin CX-52)
and the STG-61
(a copy of the Hagelin CD-57).
Eventually, HELL was taken over by Siemens AG in 1981.
In 1990, the graphics-related business
was merged with Linotype and became known as Linotype-Hell AG.
In 2002, Rudolf Hell died, 100 years old, in Kiel (Germany),
leaving a lifetime of inventions.
After WWII, HELL also produced a number of cipher machines. As Gremany was
not allowed to develop cipher machines in the years following WWII,
these devices were built under license from companies like
Hagelin in Zwitzerland.
Nevertheless, they were often improved by HELL. The following cipher machines, manufactured by HELL, are covered on this website:
Rudolf Hell's first invention was the Hellschreiber (1925/1929).
It is sometimes referred to as the forerunner of the fax and was used to
transmit written text-based messages over radio or telephone lines, similar
to a teleprinter (telex). Unlike a teleprinter however, which uses a 5-bit
digital code, the analogue Hellschreiber is far more immune to radio
interference and noise.
HELL-transmissions can be recognized by their typical 'chirping' sound.
As it transmits a scanned image of a character, it only needs a very narrow analogue radio channel, Being analogue, the text can still be recognized by the
human brain, even when it is scattered by harsh conditions (interference,
noise, fading, etc.).
Hellschreibers were used heavily by the German Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe
during WWII. Although they were replaced in the early 1960s by teleprinters
and (later) computers, some countries kept using them well into the 1970s.
In the mid-1970s, the war-time Hellschreiber (Feld Hell) was rediscovered
by a group of radio amateurs (hams) in Europe.
Some of them had acquired an original Hellschreiber without knowing exactly
what it was, and went looking for ways to (re)use it.
In the following years, a new (ham) radio-mode
was born and special licences for its use were issued by the authorities.
Today, HELL - in its many flavours - still is a popular radio mode.
- Feld Hell (Feldfernschreiber)
- Hell 72 GL
- Hell 73 AGL
- Hell 80
- Presse Hell
- ATF Hell (Abtastfernschreiber, DDR, NVA)
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© Copyright 2009-2013, Paul Reuvers & Marc Simons. Last changed: Wednesday, 17 April 2013 - 13:34 CET