Inventor, Businessman Born: June 24, 1888, Greenleaf, Washington County, Kansas. Died: November 27, 1972.
Frederick “Fred” Stein was born on June 24, 1888 in Greenleaf, Washington County, to parents George and Philetta (Frank) Stein. His family later moved to Atchison in 1900. As a boy he started to show interest in electronics. After completing the eighth grade he worked in an electrical firm. In 1904, while working for the Atchison Railway Light and Power Company, he learned about electrical meter calibration and repairing electric meters.
In 1910 he started his own electrical contracting business, which he operated until he went to fight in World War I.
He married Helen Belz Moore on May 18, 1915.
After the war he continued his business pursuits. He became known for manufacturing of crystal radios. He was the first to develop a radio that could be plugged into the wall. After the 1929 stock market crash he remained optimistic and turned his focus to car radios.
He formed Fred Stein Laboratories specializing in radio and electronic instrument manufacturing in 1932. In 1928 Stein started experiments to test the moisture content of the wood used in his radios. The machine he invented to test the wood brought him success and his company went on to develop moisture testing machines for seeds, grains, and even foods.
Stein was the district vice president and president of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, president of Atchison Chamber of Commerce, an Atchison city commissioner, and in 1949 was elected mayor of Atchison and served for several terms.
He was a member of the Episcopal Church, Masons, Elks, National Chemergic Council, a trustee of the Midwest Research Institute and the Menninger Foundation, a sponsor to the Thomas Edison Foundation, and took an active role in the National Association of Manufactures. He was a member of the Patent and Public Relations boards. Stein was considered an interesting speaker and often asked to make presentations at various events.
He died on November 27, 1972.
Entry: Stein, Frederick
Author: Kansas Historical Society
Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.
Date Created: July 2016
Date Modified: July 2016
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