AKA: Federal Telegraph Company, Research Laboratory and Factory #1, University South, Palo Alto, CA

Structure Type: built works - industrial buildings - factories; built works - research structures - laboratories

Designers: [unspecified]

Dates: constructed 1909

1 story

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913 Emerson Street
University South, Palo Alto, CA 94301

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The Federal Telegraph Company research facility was located on Emerson Street at Channing Avenue.


Australian born electrical engineer Cyrill F. Elwell (1884-1963) founded the Poulsen Wireless Telephone and Telegraph Company in 1909, although it was quickly renamed the "Federal Telegraph Company." Beginning in 1911, Elwell was assisted by Lee De Forest (1873-1961), the noted inventor of the De Forest grid audion tube, an important vacuum tube amplifier and oscillator. This tube was critical to the development of long-distance telephone, radio and television and talking film technologies, spurring the eventual development of the Bay Area's global electronics industry, subsequently known as "Silicon Valley."

Building History

The first Federal Telegraph Company facility occupied a rented residence, built c. 1905, and a galvanized iron out-building that functioned as a production facility at 913 Emerson Street in Palo Alto, CA. The galvanized metal building was enlarged to expand production capabilities by 1913. A 75-foot radio antenna was positioned behind the house and in front of the shed.


The Douglas Perham House was razed.

California Historical Landmark: 836

PCAD id: 21562