General, Scientist, Inventor

George_Owen_SquierIn my haste and excitement to get right to the early days of the incredible music recorded at Muzak, I’ve jump right over the person who made it all happen. His name was General George Squier.

Major General George Owen Squier (March 21, 1865- March 24, 1934) was born in Dryden, Michigan. He graduated from the US Military Academy in 1887 and received a Ph. D from Johns Hopkins University in 1893. Squier wrote and edited many books and articles on the subject of radio and electricity. A renowned inventor, his biggest contribution was that of multiplexing, a system of transmitting several messages simultaneously on the same circuit or channel, for which he was elected to the National Academy of Science in 1919.

Gen. Squier approached the North American Company, then the nation’s largest utility company, to transmit music over their lines. North American responded positively and in 1922 formed Wired Radio, Incorporated. To avoid problems with broadcast rights to music, North American purchased Breitkopf Publications, Inc., a European music-publishing house, and renamed it Associated Music Publishers.

Under the direction of Gen. Squier, North American Company changed the service’s name from Wired Radio to Muzak in 1934.  Liking how “Kodak”, a highly technological and reputable company, made up its name, Gen. Squier merged of the word “music” with “Kodak”.

Unfortunately Gen. Squier died later that year from complications of pneumonia, never to see the full success of his invention.

Contributed by Bruce McKagan

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