Antal Csicsátka – developer of FM stereo standard

As part of our series on lesser known Hungarian Americans we introduce Antal Csicsátka, the General Electric Company engineer who developed the “stereophonic FM broadcasting system.”

FM radio broadcast would not exist in its current form without Csicsátka.

On February 25, 1964, the United States Patent Office granted General Electric a patent covering the stereophonic FM broadcasting system adopted in 1961 as the U.S. nationwide standard. The patent, #3,122,610, was issued to Antal Csicsátka, a Hungarian refugee, a 56-er. The patent covered home receivers, receiver kits, broadcast transmitters, and certain service equipment. GE immediately announced royalty rates of 50 cents per receiver, $50 per transmitter, and $1.00 for service equipment.

Csicsátka in a GE ad

Antal Csicsátka was born in 1911 in Érsekújvár, today Nové Zámky, Slovakia. He studied at the Technical University in Budapest and after completing his studies he got a job at the Hungary’s Postal Laboratory working on data transmission. After WWII he owned a repair business to fix damaged transmission equipment. In 1949 his company was nationalized and he became the lead engineering at a state run laboratory.

Csicsátka played an important role in the development of electronic data transmission devices during Hungary’s Stalinist era and was instrumental in developing Hungary’s first tape recorder. In 1953 he received the Kossuth prize and participated in the Communist Stakhanovite movement to improve production of electronic devices.

Hungary’s Communist-era tape recorder, the RS 86-001/A “Red Spark”

After the failed 1956 Hungarian Revolution Csicsátka and his family made a daring motorcycle escape to the West. He was admitted as a refugee to the United States and got a job as a consulting engineer at the GE’s Utica, N.Y. radio receiver department.

Csicsátka receives IEEE award

The rest is history. He became one of the highest decorated engineers of General Electric and his refugee story was used in GE ads. He also received the highest honor from his American collegaues at The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

He died prematurely at the age of 65 in Utica, NY.

György Lázár

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