McCandless and Wallace – The Maker and the Valve

H. W. McCandless

This author is going to try and present the information on H. W. McCandless and Paul Wallace and the related documents without comments or speculation. While some information is known regarding McCandless, much of his early work is a mystery due to a fire that destroyed his tubes sales records in the beginning. Tyne quote below from his article- “How Audions were Built.” “You and your factory foreman … put the invention in practical working shape and handed to the world a useful device … a more meritorious act than the simple dreaming that it could be done.” So wrote Lee de Forest’s assistant, C. D. Babcock, to H. W. McCandless on December 9, 1913. Behind this letter lies one of the greatest success stories of the early days of radio, a story unfortunately not too well known. Henry Wallace McCandless, guiding genius of the firm of H. W. McCandless & Company, Inc., was graduated in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois in 1890. In 1895 he founded his company and engaged in the manufacturing of miniature incandescent lamps at 67-69 Park Place, New York City. In the ensuing years he built up a reputation for being able to make special lamps of all types. His work and reputation were such that large lamp manufacturers referred their orders for special lamps of unusual design or characteristics to him. Because of his knowledge of materials and the techniques of handling them, he was able to fulfill the most bizarre requests. As he developed new techniques for handling glass and metals, he also made lamps of his own design for special applications. Few realize that even in the field of surgery part of the progress made in those days may be attributed directly to the lighting developed by McCandless.” Eventually, Westinghouse Lamp Co. bought out McCandless and hired him as a supervisor along with all his employees. More information can be gleaned from the TCA special publication #6, “McCandless and the Audion, Dec., 2003

Wallace Spherical Audion Receiver-Tuner, 1911
Wallace Spherical Audion
Receiver-Tuner, 1911

One of the earliest of the independent makers of bootleg audions and receivers was Wallace & Company which consisted of 2 men, Paul Wallace & Merrit Mosher. The company started using McCandless spherical audions in 1911and marketed the Wallace detector- receiver. McCandless recalled this sales fact as sales in 1911 were cash only. This created a problem between Wallace and Armstrong as the Wallace regenerative receiver, Armstrong claimed, infringed on his patent. More informationcan be had with the AWA monograph written by Gerald Tyne called “The RJ-4 Mystery.” See the-AWA Monograph here: RJ_4T

Click on any of the hyperlinks in blue in the text to see the documents.

Wallace Tubular Audion Control Box
Wallace Tubular Audion
Control Box

Not much is known about the relationship between Wallace, his tubular control box, DeForest and his RJ-4 control box but Wallace had McCandless make tubular audions as well. There is a mystery involved as to why the Wallace control box and the first form of the DeForest RJ-4 receiver were nearly the same, but it seems Wallace designed the box. Compare the two with the DeForest RJ-4 bulletin below. McCandless sales were very good as his sales records show 279 audions were sold to Wallace in the 1912-13 years, and this number does not include the un-known 1911 sales. Of course, the sales numbers included both tubular and spherical audions.           

Wallace lost his patent fight with Armstrong in the end as shown below.

 Last ad for Wallace & Co., Oct, 1913
Last ad for Wallace
& Co., Oct, 1913
DeForest Radio Telephone Co. Bulletin #1
DeForest Radio Telephone
Co. Bulletin #1

The Radio Telephone Company was a DeForest Co. so how did the Wallace detector box become the DeForest first version of the RJ-4. Again, what was the relationship between Wallace and DeForest?. Who designed the detector box, Wallace, or Deforests’ The Radio Telephone Co. A careful reading of the Tyne monograph above may reveal what really happened.

7 Views of the Wallace Audion

The second from the left black and white photo above is the same point of view as the first photo but taken much earlier. Not sure who took the photo but it seems to be some sort of disply, and if so, the descriptive wording above is incorrect.

Click on any pictures above to see a larger view.

As can be seen above, this is the tubular audion, single plate, single grid with the usual double filaments. It is not much different than any of the audion’s McCandless made. The 2 wire leads out the top control the plate and grid. It appears there are 3 wire leads below. 1 of the 3 is the middle or common wire to both filaments. To light up each filament at the same time then you would tie the non-common wires together and apply the correct voltage to the common with F+ and F- to the tied together other legs of the filaments.

I am adding the Tyne written collection papers on the Wallace subject that seems to have been made for a court case and perhaps from notes gathered by George Clark but this is speculation on this authors part. Why they were written and by whom is secondary to the great amount of information they provide on McCandless and Wallace. This may be the 2nd time I have published these papers, and not in total previously. The information that Tyne wrote in these papers was used in chapters 7 and 9 for his book- “Saga of the Vacuum Tube.” See the Tyne Documents for chapters 7 & 9 for his book here: T_MW. Also, the information that Tyne used was from notes he made from the George Clark collection. Please notice sheet #13 in the hyperlink T_MW , the McCandless sales of audions to Wallace.

Please click on the blue hyperlinks above in the text and below, in sources, to view the Tyne documents.


1. “Saga of the Vacuum Tube,” Tyne, 1977.

2. “The RJ-4 Mystery”, Tyne, AWA Monograph # 1.

3. Pictures of the Wallace tube courtesy of Steve Wallace.

4.“How Audions Were Built”, Gerald Tyne quote, Radio Craft, Jan., 1947. Click on the H_T hyperlink to view original article by Tyne.  H_T

5. Picture of the DeForest RJ-4 bulletin #1 courtesy of bigalarson on Antique Radio Forums.

6.”The RJ4 Detector and the Wallace Mystery”, Gerald Tyne, find it in Tube Collectors Association Special Publication No. 15, 2008.

7. The Tyne notes, in his handwriting, for chapters 7 &9 for his book “Saga of the Vacuum Tube” were pages of notes he made from the George Clark collection. Further, I made scans of these notes courtesy of Tyne and Jerry Vanicek. I received permission from Jerry to use them in any manner I see fit if I gave him credit. I have now done so. This is perhaps the second time these Tyne and Clark notes have been seen by the general public.

8.“McCandless and the Audion”, Gerald Tyne, 1964, TCA Special Publication #6, Dec., 2003.