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Wayne Green W2NSD, SK

It’s hard not to have an opinion about Wayne Green. Depending on whom you listen to, he was a visionary, a crank, delusional, eccentric, generous, lecherous, honest, optimistic, boundlessly energetic, or all of the above and maybe a few more. Someone wrote a bogglingly angry book once (I had it but have misplaced it) that spent its entire length trying to persuade us that he was a liar, a scoundrel, a thief, and had nothing whatsoever to do with the creation of Byte Magazine. Anger that dense warps the fabric of truth. (Be careful with your anger. Let it get too dense and you will vanish into a black hole of lost credibility from which you may never emerge.) Don Lancaster put the lie to it without any trouble: When Don was writing for the extremely early Byte, Wayne was there, buying articles and signing checks.

That said, Wayne Green said a lot of peculiar things about a lot of things both mundane and peculiar. He said he was richer than (as best we know) he actually was. He said he was sexy and available. (One out of two ain’t bad.) He was constantly bitching and moaning about the FCC, the ARRL, and lord knows what else. He bragged about affairs he had had with his editorial staff. He published articles about homebrew radio gear that simply couldn’t work, or were such peculiar lashups of pipe fittings, power tubes, trash cans, glue, staples, beer bottles and copper tubing that nobody wanted to try. (I say this with some affection. Many of those articles were by the late Bill Hoisington K1CLL, who admitted…gasp!…that VHF/UHF circuits could be cranky. The crankiness of those circuits led him to try a lot of things that looked dicey, but to me their craziness indicated a certain honesty about how cranky VHF/UHF electronics actually are. Which is, of course…cranky.) There is a long list of things that Wayne Green did here. How many are true is hard to say. Did he really pilot a nuclear attack sub? Scary notion, if you’ve read his editorials. The truth, I suspect, is that he was a legend in both senses of the term.

Wayne Green, whether he was crazy or not, remains one of my heroes, for this reason: He bought the first piece of writing I ever sold, but not the first I ever had published. I guess I need to clarify: When the article appeared in the December 1974 issue of 73 Magazine, it was not my first publication. I had sold “Our Lady of the Endless Sky” to Harry Harrison for Nova 4 about a month later, but Wayne, as was his wont, paid me immediately and then sat on “All the World’s a Junkbox” for over a year before getting it into print. (“Our Lady” was in my hands in September.) And then he changed the title, to the inane “Zillions of Parts for Nothing.” (See page 36 of that issue.) Was I annoyed? A little. But heck, you only sell your first article once.

I subscribed to 73 for a lot of years, and have most of a full run of the mag on my shelves. Wayne was an editor of CQ for years before 73 appeared. Both magazines were lively and entertaining under his watch. The tech ran hot and cold, as it did almost everywhere but QST, which had paid techs on staff to build things and make sure that they were a) buildable and b) worked. But boy, when the late George Ewing WA8WTE and I got together on 40M, as often as not Wayne’s latest editorial was tops on our rag-chew agenda. Wayne published books, too, including George Ewing’s Living on a Shoestring, which George called “my scrounge book” and I consider a marvelous technical memoir. For a little while Wayne published a magazine called Cold Fusion Journal, which may have been the best fit of an editor with his niche that we will ever see.

Wayne died a few days ago, on the 13th. He was 91. His brief article on Wikipedia indicated that he was ready and eager to go off adventuring in the afterlife, an attitude I much admire. We speculate about what happens to good people after death, and what happens to bad people. What, then, happens to crazy people? Does God try to “fix” them, or do they just go on being crazy? “Crazy” is a debatable term, of course, but it seems to me that if Wayne Green weren’t his very particular brand of crazy, he wouldn’t be Wayne Green anymore. And that, my friends, would be a tragedy, whether here or in the afterlife.

TNX ES 73 OM DE K7JPD SK.

15 Comments

  1. Rich Dailey says:

    My God that man would tick me off with his editorials years ago, talking smack about *my* ARRL (when I was a loyal member of the Association), how everything went bad after he left CQ, on and ON about his achievements.

    But here’s the flat of it: I subscribed to 73 for years, and ‘Never Say Die’ was the first thing I read after skimming the TOC. And he paid me for an article I wrote (Noise Bridges) that I never saw in print (although much later I updated/rewrote the article as a short series in QRP Quarterly). I wasn’t a glutton for punishment: Amongst the rambling, repetition, and bragging, there were gems of what felt like distilled truth. Or truthiness, as Colbert might put it. There was always some ‘feel good juice’ somewhere in each piece, something that made you want to put the magazine down and pick up the iron. I’m sure if I dug through the back issues, I’d find solder blobs and spattered rosin.

    He said in a fairly recent radio interview that his major psychological problem was that when he found something that was fun and exciting, he had to share it with as many people as possible. In retrospect, I think he may have sounded like he was full of himself at times, but he truly wanted others to experience the kick in the pants of technology, Amateur Radio, cold fusion, longevity, or whatever it was that month. It was usually all of them.

    Crazy? Perhaps by the common earthly definition, a little. But I’m not sure if we can truly define crazy from our perspectives here any more accurately than we can wrap our head around pure spirit. I’m sure he’s one of the two now, and enjoying every minute of it, probably trying his best to send word back.

    N8UX

    1. Rich Dailey says:

      And it seems remiss for me not to mention that my Dad bought me my first magazine about Amateur Radio at a small Olsen Electronics store downtown in Akron Ohio (near, if not next to the Quacker Oats silos)… it was one of the phonebook-thick 1975 or 1976 issues of 73.

  2. Tom R. says:

    I heard the announcement that Wayne passed on my local club’s Sunday night 2 meter net last night.

    I too sold the first (and so far only) construction article I ever wrote to 73 when I got out of the Air Force in 1975 and was looking for work and thought I would try to make a little money writing about a project I had made. Wayne bought it and paid promptly. However, it didn’t run until the March 1978 issue of 73! By then I had found full time employment and my writing went on the back burner. In spite of disagreeing with some of his positions on some things it is hard to find fault with the man who bought your first and only published work!

    I still have most of the issues of 73 that I got while I subscribed and I also have some of the issues of Kilobaud, which Wayne used when he was not able to continue using the Kilobyte name for his computer magazine after loosing Byte.

  3. Jack Smith says:

    I sold a dozen or so construction articles to Wayne for 73 Magazine and also a few that appeared in his TRS-80 Encyclopedia.

    No technical checking required – unlike my articles published in QEX.

    When 73 Magazine folded, Wayne owed me close to $1,500 for unpaid articles. Never saw a penny of it.

    Always provocative – and you have to wonder how much of his editorials were what he believed versus what he knew would sell magazines.

  4. Elvis Newton says:

    Read YOUR 73 article – very clever idea, beat my old method of looking through the trash pile of the TV shops. We all have a lot in common it seems, Wayne bought my first magazine construction article in 1975.

    1. Of course, it was filling that garage full of junk that almost kept me from meeting my wife. Had I kept hacking at it with nut driver and dikes on July 31, 1969, I would not have attended the church social at which I met Carol.

  5. Bob Fegert says:

    OMG!

    I actually have been thinking lately “I wonder when Wayne will pass?”

    I guess it’s just a coincidence?

    I told him a couple of years ago in an email that I considered him “The world’s smartest crackpot” He loved it! Took it as the compliment that I intended.

    The world is less now that Wayne Green is gone from us. πŸ™

    ===========
    below is the email I sent.

    MIME-Version: 1.0
    Received: by 10.216.245.76 with HTTP; Sat, 22 Jan 2011 16:05:52 -0800 (PST)
    Date: Sat, 22 Jan 2011 17:05:52 -0700
    Delivered-To: b*o*b*fegert@gmail.com
    Message-ID:
    Subject: World’s smartest crackpot πŸ™‚
    From: Bob Fegert
    To: w2nsd@aol.com
    Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1

    Hi Wayne…

    You said “Other than this 88 year old crack-pot in New Hampshire, who
    else has the stupidity to blow the whistle on how crooked our money,
    banks, schools, government, and health systems are?

    I have said many times that you are certainly the world’s smartest
    crackpot..LoL πŸ™‚

    I don’t mean that in the same way as the old quip “World’s tallest midget”
    It’s just that a couple of things you espouse strike me as quirky
    (moon landing hoax)…but I suppose you
    could be right and I could be terribly wrong.

    I always have enjoyed reading your rants….way back to the first issues of 73.
    (And I still really miss the old Byte Magazine…sigh)

    I hope you are around for many years to come so I can keep on reading
    your blog posts.

    Bob KB5FJJ

    And his reply
    =============

    w2nsd

    1/22/11

    to me
    Thanks for the morale booster note! Bob, I carefully research what I write about. If you do your homework on the Moon landings (like reading my Moondoggle book), you’ll see I’ve done mine…hi!

    ==============
    My God! I’m going to miss his rants πŸ™

  6. Michael Black says:

    The trash can was in QST, June of 1972. It was about building a good 2meter filter.

    The somewhat similar filter in “73” was made of an oil drum, some guy with a couple of articles about some weird modulation scheme. The filter probably worked, the rest of the scheme made no sense. Something about narrowband, but he was using a subcarrier. It’s not that it was published, but the author didn’t seem to know what he was doing, at least from the article.

    On the other hand, around that time (1870), there was that scheme in QST for decoding an SSB signal, dividing the FM element by three, and then remodulating the carrier, so it could be linearly multiplied up. A legit article, it also got people thinking about other schemes, along similar lines, some might have worked, others wouldn’t. Let the criticism happen after the publication.

    73 filled the magazine with construction articles and tutorials, not wasting space on fancy layout or slick finished products. You learned a lot more a lot faster than with QST, where the construction articles were limited in number. Bill Hoisington was about building cheap, building fast, and he got into using circuit board as a base for construction long before most did. It didn’t matter whether it worked or not, it wasn’t about projects that you could build at home without a lot of thought. QST projects were intimidating, too slick, and since I couldn’t afford the parts new, better to have articles where I could get something out of and build with what I had (yes, often taken from other equipment).

    I often thought Wayne should have started a hobby electronic magazine along the lines of “73”, if noting else, little filler (so the articles didn’t continue on page XXX) often had good ideas, and those were missing from the slicker hobby magazines.

    I first knew about Wayne Green in January of 1971, finding Electronics Illustrated on the newsstand, he had the ham column at that point. And he came every month, in 73 starting in September of 1972, until the mid-nineties when 73 just got too simple, too small, and even too sporadic.

    Some of those “accomplishments” may have been garbling, after all Wayne did serve on a submarine in WWI. On the other hand, in doing some searches, too many are just repeating what they heard elsewhere, which at this point may not even reflect what Wayne had said. The old issues would reflect him best, since that’s when he was writing about current things. Later, it gets larger than life. He didn’t really get 2M FM started, but yes, he did run articles and start a small magazine on the subject for a while, and that helped. His role often was as publisher, getting articles about new things into print, which third hand seems to be “he started SSB, he started RTTY, he started FM”. As a publisher, he probably did hit circles many of us didn’t, so he could whisper in people’s ears, sometimes helping things along, sometimes maybe they’d have happened anyway, but since he was there, he gets the claim.

    And yes, he started Byte, I remember the November 1972 issue of 73, the largest up to that point, it had an “idea article” about building a computer, pre-microcomputer. I figure that helped set the tone for what came alter, and there were a few computer articles in 1975 after the Altair came out. The fact taat one can see his editorial about starting Byte before Byte was published sets the record.

    Michael

    1. Hoisington was an interesting guy. I tried a couple of his projects without success in the midlate 70s, but as you say, it was the first time I had tried “dead bug” construction on PC stock. I do wonder if he invented the technique.

      The November 1972 issue of 73 (like most of the issues) is available on the Internet Archive:

      http://archive.org/stream/73-magazine-1972-11/11_November_1972#page/n183/mode/2up

  7. Unfortunately it’s been many years since I had any contact with Wayne, since I left hamdom behind me when I discovered computers in 1965.

    However one of my most treasured possessions is a small red book Wayne gave me for Christmas in the early 1960s: the first year of 73, bound in hard covers, and inscribed to me. I was one of the first members of his stable, and stayed on the masthead for more than a decade, even after I let my ticket lapse in protest against the brutal politics of the ham world.

    Vaya con Dios, my friend! And thanks for all the fish we shared in the early years…

    1. I remember you very well, and still have a couple of your books somewhere. Glad you stopped by!

  8. William Meyer says:

    Never met nor spoke to Wayne Green, but before too many moves made me more selective, had the full collection of Byte and Kilobaud. His questionable exploits are of no importance to me. What he did very well was to champion the home-brew computer movement, and in so doing, helped (however indirectly) to bring a number of companies into existence. And truly, without the help of his magazines, I suspect the “computer revolution” might have been slower in starting.

    There were many great articles in those magazines. And my father was a long time subscriber to 73.

    May he be remembered well by all those his magazines enriched with their content.

  9. Dan Lester says:

    First, I exchanged emails with Wayne over the years. This quote is from the last message I got from him, Sept 9, 2012, just over a year ago.

    Ahh, the memories. Yep, I turned 90 last Monday. Hey, it’s great to “hear” from you. Have you visited waynegreen.com yet? That’ll keep you busy. I haven’t been active on the ham bands in years, either. I gave up looking for hams that were interesting to talk with. And with over 350 countries confirmed, little to prove. Bunch of DXpeditions. Won some contests, etc. Moved on. I rote recently about our getting into the VW bus and going to see NH’s tourist spots, like the Tramway, Flume. I did hear from Warren Elly W1GUD a couple days ago…another from our old days. β€”β€” Wayne β€”β€”

  10. Dan Lester says:

    Now for context on the above quote. I worked for 73 from May 63 to February 64, living in the “commune” in the attic of the 1793 house in Peterborough. I did a lot of editing, preparation of master negatives for offset printing, and assorted ham work, both technical and operational. I went there as K9PKJ (formerly K0EJU) and left as W1AER. That was a great “old timer” call for someone who was all of 20 years old (licensed at age 12). Over the years I was W9HQN, W8JEO, W0NDH, and N5CAB. That was back when you had to change calls like you had to change phone numbers

    During the time there we made a number of trips in the VW bus to northern NH, NYC, and other places, worked on building the 120 foot tower with 288 elements on it, cleaned out the stables, fed the dogs, took rides in his Porsche 356C, and so on. I’m still in touch with three guys who worked there at the time, Val K1APA, Ted ex-K9YOE, and Fred K1VR. We’ve all gone on to successful careers in various fields and remember our times there fondly.

    There was an interesting and eclectic group of guys there, including Goat Boy (he wasn’t the brightest bulb, and would butt heads with the billy goat), the guy who didn’t believe in using toilet paper, and several others who didn’t last more than a week or two before being told to depart. At the time Wayne was married to Virginia Green, who shocked everybody in the small town by never wearing a bra. She was beautiful. They had a daughter named Jade, and one day we gave Virginia and Wayne fits by feeding Jade a bottle of milk that was loaded with blue food coloring. The contents of her diaper were chartreuse.

    I could go on, but won’t. Wayne worked us hard, but no harder than he worked himself. He always read widely, and their bed always had a random heap of fifty or more magazines and books around it for his reading. I don’t know if he really did participate in early experiments with Timothy Leary and LSD, but I know he did serve in submarines in the Pacific during WWII. There was always a lot of smoke and mirrors, but more than a little truth, too.

    I believe the mold was broken when Wayne was hatched. I last saw him in person in 69, but will always be a key event in forming me, my career, and my life.

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