Dwight Poppy's Zenith Historical Information

Information Provided by Mr. Dwight Poppy, August 2006

My name is Dwight Poppy, and I am a former engineer with Zenith Corporation. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin, I joined the Zenith Transistor Group in February, 1959. I was hired by John Rennick for whom I would later work with at the Zenith Color Television Group.

During my time serving in the Transistor Group, I had design assignments with the Royal 400, 500H, 810, 820, and the 880 transistor radios. My engineering specialty was in the areas of RF and IF design. I worked with Ted Godawski on a number of RF/IF designs. Ted Githens headed up the Transistor Group; some of the other notable names serving in the Transistor Group were Walter Miller, Art Strauss, and Gene Masters, John Novack, Roy Snelling, and Ray Andrejasich.

Another important Zenith group was the Audio Group headed up by Howard Robbins. Working from their well equipped lab, they developed outstanding performing audio systems for the Zenith transistor radios. During the late 1950's, the decision was made to improve the overall sound of Zenith coat-pocket transistor radios. An oval speaker, featuring an offset voice coil and ceramic magnet was developed. To fit this speaker into the standard Royal 500 cabinet size presented a number of challenges. The speaker had to be mounted offset in the cabinet.

Here is a view of the Royal 500H chassis. It features a smaller tuning capacitor, along with new miniaturized IF and oscillator transformers

Here are two views of the revolutionary 3" x 5" speaker that features an offset voice coil to prevents a natural resonant frequency. The speaker featured—for the first time—a ceramic magnet.

Here are IF transformers from a Royal 200, a Royal 500, and the Royal 500H. You can make a comparison about how much smaller the newly-designed Royal 500H IF transformer is relative to the others.


Next, there was the need for smaller electronic components to populate the PC board. Charles Farquar did a remarkable job designing much smaller IF transformers. In my design work, I decided to add a double tuned IF stage to the Royal 500H which improved its selectivity and immunity to adjacent station interference. The Royal 400, while not as selective, had a slight sensitivity edge.

Another engineering activity that I was involved with was the evaluation of new transistors. Among the Texas Instrument, RCA and Philco (Lansdale), we found at the time the Philco units to be the least noisy.

During the early 1960's, I was responsible for the IF design of the Royal 880, a successor to the Royal 2000. Earlier, after some fierce legal wrangling, Zenith won rights to use the RCA patented ratio detector. Having this available, I incorporated a ratio detector in this set. This was a vast improvement in tuning over the "S" FM detector used in the Royal 2000. Walt Miller did the RF design for the Royal 880.

Also, I was in charge of the RF design of the Royal 810, a well performing miniature AM/FM portable. To accommodate all the components without having feedback, I had to add a double-sided PC board to a portable radio. I can recall working New Year’s Eve one year, in order to make a production deadline.

In the early sixties, I left the Transistor Group and joined John Rennick in the advanced development for color television group. We developed the first integrated circuit for a television receiver that actually fit into a miniature tube socket. Following this, I moved into the development of video disc players and video tape recorders. I ended my employment at Zenith when I was serving as the Director for Videotape Recorders.

After working at the Zenith Corporation for 22 years, I returned to the University of Wisconsin, where I served the rest of my professional career as Director of Engineering for the Radio, Television, and Film Program at Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

During my time with Zenith, I had always been impressed that the company ethic was bringing a quality product to the consumer.

Mr. Poppy passed away at the age of 77 on June 16, 2013. He was loved and respected by his many work associates and students.