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Hugo Gernsback

Hugo GernsbackAKA Hugo Gernsbacher

Born: 16-Aug-1884
Birthplace: Luxembourg, Luxembourg
Died: 19-Aug-1967
Location of death: New York City
Cause of death: unspecified

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Author

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Founded Amazing Stories in 1926

Inventor, author, editor, and publisher Hugo Gernsback (for whom the prestigious Hugo Award is named) is credited with the ceation of the first science fiction pulp magazine. Titled Amazing Stories, it first appeared in 1926 and featured reprints of the speculative fiction of H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, Edgar Allan Poe and other, lesser, authors. Among Gernsback’s other publishing successes were Modern Electrics magazine, Radio Amateur News, and Science and Invention. A separate but highly successful venture were his publications via the Sexology Corporation, of which he was president. Gernsback was also responsible for the creation of the character of Baron Von Munchausen (paid brief homage in Time Bandits), who escapaded to the Moon and beyond in some of Gernsback's science fiction pieces.

Born in Luxembourg in 1884, Gernsback was born the son of a vintner. But rather than following in the family business, he studied science at the Ecole Industrielle and the Technikum in Bingen, Germany. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1904 hoping to exploit his invention of an improved dry battery and ended up founding the Electric Importing Company – later described by Gernsback as the world's first radio supply house. In 1908 he started his first magazine, Modern Electrics.

In 1925 he created radio station WRNY, and just three years later he began sending out his own television broadcasts. The screen image, roughly the size of a postage stamp, was received by crude scanners owned by 2,000 amateurs enthusiasts in the New York area. Among Gernsback's other inventions (he held 80 patents by the time he died) were the Hypnobioscope, for "sleep-learning," and the Osophone, an early bone conductor hearing aid.

Despite his many colorful achievements, it is for his association with science fiction (which he originally called scientifiction) that Gernsback is generally remembered. Although only officially called the "Hugo" award since 1993, the Annual Science Fiction Achievement Award, created in the mid 1950s, had already been widely known as the "Hugo", named after the man whose pulp magazines (and the many clones they spawned) served as the vehicle for countless science fiction notables.

However, Gernsback's association with science fiction actually began long before the publication of Amazing Stories. In fact, many years earlier he had begun sneaking science fiction pieces into his popular science magazines – including his own "Ralph 124C41+", a twelve-part serial billed as "A Romance of the Year 2660."

Gernsback died in 1967 at the age of 83. In somewhat characteristic form he donated his body to science, specifically to the Cornell University Medical School.

Wife: Rose Harvey (m. 1906)
Wife: Dorothy Kantrowitz (m. 1921)
Wife: Mary Hancher (m. 1951)

    Modern Electrics Founder (1908)
    Amazing Stories Founder (1926)
    Wonder Stories Founder (1930)
    Hugo 1960 (as "The Father of Magazine Science Fiction")


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