In spite of Hugo Gernsback's enthusiasm, "oscillating crystals" would turn out to be more of a curiosity than a revolutionary new technology. However, in later decades the physics behind the phenomenon would become better understood, leading to the development of truly revolutionary "transfer resistors" (transistors).
Radio News, September, 1924, page 291:
A Sensational Radio Invention
By HUGO GERNSBACK
REAL radio inventions are very scarce these days. As a rule the latest radio sensation proves to be an adaptation of something that existed before, worked into a novel form. When we, therefore, speak of a sensational radio invention we are aware of the fact that we are using a pretty strong term. Nevertheless, we mean just that. We refer this month to the epoch-making invention of Mr. O. V. Lossev of the Government Radio Electrical Laboratory of Russia.
Stated in a few words, the invention encompasses an oscillating crystal. A special form of crystal in a special arrangement is now made to oscillate just exactly as does a vacuum tube. It is now not only possible by means of this invention to receive radio impulses, but to generate and transmit radio waves as well, all by means of the little ubiquitous crystal. In other words, THE CRYSTAL NOW ACTUALLY REPLACES THE VACUUM TUBE. That this is a revolutionary radio invention need be emphasized no further.
Dr. Pickard, in this country, we believe, was the first to produce a crystal circuit that actually oscillated. RADIO NEWS in December, 1923, published an account of this exploit. Mr. Pickard, however, was never able, to the best of our knowledge, to obtain worthwhile results from his arrangement. Mr. Lossev, on the other hand, has gone quite deeply into the problem and has solved all the difficulties that lay in his path, in a very brilliant manner.
Two of the greatest German authorities, Count Arco and Dr. Meisner, recently visited Mr. Lossev's laboratory. They not only marveled at Mr. Lossev's invention, which is as novel as it is simple, but they were also greatly astonished by the youth and talent of the inventor.
From what has been said it will be understood now that he oscillating crystal which RADIO NEWS has termed the Crystodyne Principle can be used in exactly the same manner as any existing vacuum tube. We can not only detect with the crystal, but we can also amplify with it. We may use any number of them in various circuits in order to bring in great distance or to obtain greater power, the same as we do now with the multiple tube sets. In a short time we may speak of three or six crystal sets, the same as we speak now of a three or six tube set.
Just as we can transmit radio impulses by means of continuous waves using the vacuum tube, we can now also transmit with the Crystodyne, and, as a matter of fact, a number of students in Russia have actually sent messages with such sets over distances of more than three-quarters of a mile during the past few months.
As a side-light of all this, it should be noted that the Editor has always featured the crystal wherever it was possible. He knew that sooner or later just this thing would come about. His many past editorials on the crystal bear witness to this. The oscillating crystal also explains now how some radio experimenters have been able to obtain such remarkable long distance records with crystal outfits. It would seem that wherever these records were made, the crystal actually oscillated in one way or another without the user being aware of it.
A curious fact about the new Crystodyne Principle is that it operates exactly as an arc transmitter. While at present only the crystal zincite in connection with a steel point gives the real results, there is no question but that other combinations will be found that will work even better. The thousands of friends of the crystal, when they get busy, will in time no doubt, find the correct measures to produce oscillations from other combinations.
That the radio industry is due for an entire revolution through this invention there seems to be no question. But like other revolutionary inventions, the revolution, as a rule, does not come over night. It will take many years for the Crystodyne Principle to be adopted in our radio sets. Three to five years may be necessary before that is brought about.
Right here we must sound a note of caution. It must be understood that, for the present, the invention is practically confined to the laboratory and the up-to-date experimenter. It has not become perfected sufficiently to enter into the commercial stage. This lies in the future. As wonderful as the invention is, it still has all the troubles and weaknesses of the crystal. There is the usual cat-whisker contact and the usual elusive sensitive spot. Once the contact is adjusted the Crystodyne works well, but a knock or jar may put the circuit out of commission.
If you had a Super-Heterodyne using the Crystodyne Principle incorporating from six to eight crystals, the job of keeping all of them in operation would be a rather difficult one. Of course, vacuum tubes have not this weakness, although they have others. But for surety of operation the vacuum tube today is supreme. It may take many years for the oscillating crystal to be perfected in such a manner that it will supercede the vacuum tube, but we predict that such a time will come.
Future improvements of the Crystodyne will probably be along the following lines: perhaps in some form of a synthetic crystal or perhaps some crystal arrangement in a vacuum that is just as fixed as is the present day vacuum tube. There will then of course be no necessity for cat-whiskers and adjusting means.
The future Crystodyne receiving set will therefore be rather small, there being no "A" battery required, all the "B" battery voltage being taken from small flashlight batteries which fit right into the set. Such an outfit would require a good deal less room than the present day outfits.
In the meanwhile, the Seventh Heaven has been opened up to all dyed-in-the-wool radio experimenters. RADIO NEWS hereby makes it its business to bring to its readers, from month to month, all the new developments of the Crystodyne Principle.