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Benjamin B. Bauer papers, 1935-1979.

Description of Collection


American Institute of Physics. Niels Bohr Library & Archives.

Papers created by

Bauer, Benjamin B(aumzweiger)

Size of collection

3.5 linear feet
7 manuscript boxes

Short description of collection

This collection documents Bauer's inventive work primarily at CBS Laboratories, in particular his development of the stereo quadraphonic record system. Other topics include underwater sound and communication, the ferromagnetic principles of magnetic recording, and noise pollution.

Language(s) of collection





Collection number:


Biographical Note

Benjamin Baumzweiger Bauer, a leading figure in audio and acoustics, engaged in research, development, engineering, management, teaching, writing, and lecturing in acoustics and communications for over forty years.

Born on June 26, 1913 to a Jewish family in Odessa, Russia, Bauer was interested in electricity and music from his earliest days. His mother had studied piano in Berlin and taught at the Odessa Conservatory. He spent his teen years in Cuba and came to the United States in 1930. Bauer received a degree in industrial electrical engineering from Pratt Institute in 1932, and an Electrical Engineering degree from the University of Cincinnati in 1937, and did postgraduate work in physics, mathematics and acoustics at the University of Chicago and Northwestern University. He became a United States citizen in 1941.

His career in industry began in 1936 as a University of Cincinnati co-op student engineer at Shure Brothers, Inc., a small firm in Evanston, Illinois, which manufactured acoustical devices. He was appointed Chief Engineer in 1940 and Vice President and Director of Engineering in 1950. Among his early scientific contributions were the invention of a single-transducer unidirectional microphone and the development of a low-tracking-force moving-magnet phonograph pickup principle.

In 1957 Bauer joined CBS, Inc., as Vice President of Acoustics and Magnetics at CBS Laboratories in Stamford, Connecticut. Under his direction, CBS Laboratories became a recognized leader in applied acoustical technology. He wrote widely in areas of engineering acoustics, psychoacoustics, underwater acoustics, and musical acoustics. One of his most notable achievements during this era was the development of the stereo quadraphonic (SQ) “matrix” system for phonographic reproduction and broadcasting. From 1975 to 1978 Bauer was Vice President and General Manager of the newly formed CBS Technology Center, successor to CBS Laboratories, where he directed research and development in television, high-density recording, audio systems, and sound reproduction. He retired in 1978 but remained active as a consultant and head of his own company, Audio-Metric Laboratories, Inc.

Bauer was recognized for many significant contributions in research and for numerous acoustical developments. The long list includes microphones for acoustical measurements, pistonphones, heart-beat measurements, hearing aids, sound ranging, military and civilian communications, public address systems, and broadcasting headphones and artificial voice and ear devices; loudspeakers and enclosures; vibration measuring instruments; stereophonic phonograph records and photograph recording and reproducing transducers; magnetic recording heads and transports; directional hydrophones and calibrators; devices for automatic level control in broadcasting; and psychoacoustic research related to directional hearing in the air and underwater and the measurement of loudness.

The author of numerous papers, Bauer received over fifty patents, lectured widely on acoustics and research administration in the U.S. and abroad, and was a Visiting Professor of Engineering Acoustics at Pennsylvania State University. He was a Fellow of the Institute of Radio Engineers, the Acoustical Society of America, the Audio Engineering Society, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

Bauer and his wife, Ida, were married in 1937. They had two sons, William and Philip. Bauer died on March 31, 1979.

Scope and Contents of Collection

The papers of Benjamin Bauer are primarily professional in nature, documenting his inventive work at CBS Laboratories and Shure Borthers, Inc., and his participation in professional associations. While there are early papers and a very small amount of material from his own company, Audio-Metrics, most of the collection is from the years Bauer was at CBS, Inc.

The largest series, his articles and addresses (bulk dates 1967-1978), contains drafts and manuscripts with some supporting technical notes and drawings. The major focus of the writing is on the stereo quadraphonic (SQ) record system he developed in 1970. Other topics include microphones, phonograph pickup systems, underwater sound and communication, management, the ferromagnetic principles of magnetic recording, loudness level monitors, and noise pollution. Most of these articles were for publication in professional acoustical journals and most addresses were given before colleagues in acoustics and related fields. However, some of the articles and addresses were directed to a public or lay audience. Bauer was the chief spokesperson promoting the SQ system for CBS Inc. and, in this capacity, he wrote for Audio and High Fidelity magazines, spoke to record and high fidelity equipment dealers and at consumer electronic shows (folders 12-13) and even wrote copy for a record jacket (folder 12).

The next major series is “Memoranda, Data, Calculations, Notes, Technical Reports, and Press Releases.” This series is organized by company, and within that, chronologically, with two folders on Shure Brothers, five on CBS, and nothing on Audio-Metrics. Memoranda include discussions with CBS colleagues Dennis Gabor, Peter C. Goldmark, Emil L. Torick, Spencer Olson, and L. A. Abbagnaro on technical matters. Notes, data, and drawings found here were not clear accompaniments to specific articles and addresses. Also included here are CBS petitions before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)for standardization in FM Stereo-Quadraphonic broadcast transmission (folder 26). After a series of tests in 1977, the FCC deemed the Bauer SQ system the best of all matrix systems.

The correspondence, incoming and outgoing, is not extensive. It is mostly of a routine professional nature concerning memberships and appointments in professional societies, publications, speaking arrangements, patents, congratulations, and the writings of others. Some of the letters document collaborative work on technical matters. Also included are letters Bauer wrote to congressmen, senators and U.S. presidents on political matters of deep concern to him. Correspondents include the Institute of Radio Engineers, the Audio Engineering Society, the Acoustical Society of America, the American management Association, the Institute of Noise Control Engineering, and Marshal McLuhan.

The series on teaching materials reflects his work as a Visiting Professor of Engineering Acoustics at Pennsylvania State University in the summers of 1967, 1974, and 1978. It includes his lectures, homework assignments, quizzes, and reprints of articles he distributed to his students.

Other series are quite straightforward. Series I contains clippings and articles about Bauer, awards he received, and his “Phonographic Biography” (1977). It is unclear whether Series VI, Patents, and Series IX, Reprints, are complete since the American Institute of Physics (AIP) does not have a complete list of Bauer’s published articles and patents. Series VII contains material from conferences he attended, and Series VIII contains loose photographs not connected with other papers.

Restrictions on Use and Access

Researchers must have an approved access application on file in order to access archival materials.

Selected Search Terms

These papers have been indexed in the International Catalog of Sources for History of Physics and Allied Sciences (ICOS) using the following terms. Those seeking related materials should search under these terms.


Bauer, Benjamin B. (Benjamin Baumzweiger), 1913-


Columbia Broadcasting System Laboratories.
Pennsylvania State University.

Subject terms

Engineering. Study and teaching.
Magnetic recorders and recording.
Noise pollution.
Quadrophonic sound systems.
Underwater acoustics.

Organization and Arrangement of Collection

This collection is organized into ten series:

  • Series I: Biographical material
  • Series II: Correspondence
  • Series III: Articles and addresses
  • Series IV: Memoranda, data, calculations, notes, technical reports, and press releases
  • Series V: Teaching materials
  • Series VI: Patents
  • Series VII: Conference materials
  • Series VIII: Photographs
  • Series IX; Reprints by Bauer
  • Series X: Writings by others

Each series is arranged chronologically, where possible.

Provenance and Acquisition Information

The collection was a gift of Ida Bauer, widow of Benjamin Bauer, in 1986.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Elisabeth Elkind in 1987.

Preferred Citation of Collection

Box [number], Folder [number], Benjamin B. Bauer papers, 1935-1979 (bulk 1967-1978). American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library & Archives, College Park, MD 20740, USA.

Administrative Information


Finding Aid to the Benjamin B. Bauer papers, 1935-1979.


American Institute of Physics Niels Bohr Library & Archives

One Physics Ellipse
College Park, MD 20740


Encoding Information

Machine-readable finding aid encoded by Melanie J. Brown in 1987. Any revisions made to this finding aid occurred as part of the editing and encoding process.

Series I: Biographical material,

Box 1 Folder 1 Biographical clippings and articles, awards and autobiography, 1935-1979

Series II: Correspondence,

Box 1 Folder 2 Acoustical Society of America - Higwan, 1947-1979
Folder 3 Institute of Noise Control Engineering - Nixon, 1947-1979
Folder 4 Olinger - Yamazaki, and unknown, 1947-1979

Series III: Articles and addresses,

Box 1 Folder 5 Articles and addresses, 1935-1959
Folder 6 Articles and addresses, 1961-1963
Box 2 Folder 7 Articles and addresses, 1964-1966
Folder 8 Articles and addresses, 1967-1970
Folder 9 Articles and addresses, 1970-1971
Folder 10 Articles and addresses, 1972
Folder 11 Articles and addresses, 1972
Box 3 Folder 12 Articles and addresses, 1973
Folder 13 Articles and addresses, 1974
Folder 14 Articles and addresses, 1975-1976
Folder 15 Articles and addresses, 1977
Folder 16 Articles and addresses, 1978-1979
Folder 17 Articles and addresses, undated
Box 4 Folder 18 Articles and addresses, undated
Folder 19 Articles on Stereo Quadraphonic (SQ) system, undated
Folder 20 Articles on Stereo Quadraphonic (SQ) system, undated

Series IV: Memoranda, data, calculations, notes, technical reports, and press releases,

Box 4 Folder 21 Notebook from early work at Shure Brothers, Inc., 1937-1939
Folder 22 Shure Brothers, Inc, 1939-1957
Folder 23 CBS, Inc., 1958-1965
Box 5 Folder 24 CBS, Inc., 1966-1968
Folder 25 CBS, Inc., 1969-1973
Folder 26 CBS, Inc., 1974-1977
Folder 27 CBS, Inc., 1977-1978; undated

Series V: Teaching materials,

Box 5 Folder 28 Pennsylvania State University engineering acoustics, 1967, 1974
Folder 29 Pennsylvania State University audio engineering, 1978
Box 6 Folder 30 Pennsylvania State University audio engineering, 1978
Folder 31 Pennsylvania State University audio engineering, 1978

Series VI: Patents,

Box 6 Folder 32 Patents, 1938-1954
Folder 33 Patents, 1956-1964
Folder 34 Patents, 1965-1976

Series VII: Conference materials,

Box 6 Folder 35 Printed programs, reports and papers, 1938-1978

Series VIII: Photographs,

Box 7 Folder 36 Photographs of apparatus, undated

Series IX: Reprints by Bauer,

Box 7 Folder 37 Reprints, 1939-1962
Folder 38 Reprints, 1963-1970
Folder 39 Reprints, 1971-1978

Series X: Writings by others,

Box 7 Folder 40 Articles, reprints and patents on acoustics and related topics (including patents, 1892, for Thomas Edison's speaking telegraph), 1891-1977
Folder 41 Articles on creativity and invention from popular science magazine, 1958-1976