Hugo Gernsbacher was born in Luxembourg in
1884. He got his education in the tschnical schools of Europe, eventually
learning telephone & electrical communications equipment. Immigrating to
America in 1904, he began a company called the Electric Importing Company,
which eventually led to his becoming the editor & publisher of Modern
Electrics in 1908. He also founded a radio station, WRNY in 1925 and early
television braodcasting. Electric Importing was a fore runner of the Radio
Shack, as sellers of radio building equipment by mail. It was the company
catalog that eventually became Modern Electrics in 1908.
He wrote some early science fiction novels
of which "Ralph 124C 41+" is the most noted & popular. For this novel he
used the pen name Ralph 124C 41!!!!
In 1913 he began Electical Experimentor,
which became the famous Science and Invention in 1919, and in 1920 he began
Radio News. Science and Invention was a competitor to Popular Science Magazine,
but it also contained short science fiction novellas. The interest generated by
these short stories eventually led Gernsback to publish what would become the
most famous of all sf pulps....Amazing Stories, in 1926. An immediate success
even though the stories were mostly reprints by H.G.Wells, Jules Verne, Edgar
Allen Poe & lesser authors.
In 1913 he noticed Frank Rudolph Paul whose technologically futuristic
creations were perfect fit for the covers of these scientific magazines. Paul's
intricate designs & his tremendous insight into the future of space travel
made him one of the most popular cover artists of the time. Over the years he
would illustrate hundreds of covers & inumerable interior illustrations to
Gernsback Publications. It was only natural that Paul would become the cover
artist on many early issues of Amazing, and it would be difficult to say that
without his cover art that Amazing might not have been as successful.
Regardless of success however, the beginning
of the depression the bank that loaned money to Gernsback for publishing was
forced into closing, which in turn led to Gernsback losing control of the
magazine in 1929. He would then began Science Wonder Stories, Air Wonder
Stories, Wonder Stories Quarterly & Amazing Detective Tales. These pulp
titles did not all last & finally in 1936 Gernsback sold the ramaining
title, Wonder Stories to Thrilling Publications.
In 1953 he made a short lived attempt at sf
publishing again with Science Fiction Plus, but the magazine failed after a few
issues. He did however continue to publish his radio magazine which as
Radio-Electronics celebrated 50 years in 1958.
He died in New York's Roosevelt Hospital in
1967. At his death he owned 80 patents, he was decorated as "Officer of the
Oaken Crown" by Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxumbourg in 1954 for his service
to science & founded the Science Fiction League in 1934, which is
recognized as the first club dedicated to fandom.
Recognized as the "Father of Science
Fiction" in 1960 the World Science Fiction Convention named their award "The
Hugo", known as the most prestigious award in SF.
Read his New
York Times Obituary by clicking this link.