The Age of Advertising: Reeves Sound Laboratories (1943-1944)

This advertisement is particularly eye-catching in its use of light and dark, which visually symbolizes its message:  An organization, operating regardless of day or night, producing vitally needed products for the military.  The company?  Reeves Sound Laboratories.

Located at 215 East 91st Street in Manhattan (unfortunately, there does not seem to be a Google street view of the address), the company, founded by Hazard E. Reeves, was a division of Reeves-Ely Laboratories, and conducted research into advanced gunfire control systems and computers, radar and tracking systems, guided missile controls, aircraft control instruments, flight trainers and aerodynamical computers, precision instruments, servo mechanisms, and, sound recording systems.  By 1956, the company merged into the Dynamics Corporation of America.



Previously, the cutting of crystal oscillators had been an art known to only a few technicians.  But then these New Yorkers pitched in:  Debutantes, dancing teachers, actors, stenographers, artists, clerks, butcher boys, beauticians, models and others joined hands with housewives to show what they could do when a war industry came to Times Square.

Over a thousand workers (mostly women) came from the five boroughs and the suburbs.  Everyone started from scratch.  Management and workers were unskilled at the start.  They learned the job together under the guidance of the United States Army Signal Corps experts.  Production processes were studied and broken down into the simplest possible operations.  X-Ray equipment and other highly scientific apparatus were brought in to help.

In the first month, only a few crystal were produced.  Now a year later, these people are turning out many more crystals than was believed possible a year ago.

A production miracle?  Perhaps.  But maybe it’s because these people are Americans – because they’re New Yorkers…or because a large percentage of the employees have relatives doing the toughest job of all – in the Armed Service of their country.

These workers have done their work so well that they have been awarded the Army-Navy “E” which they accept with this pledge:

“I promise to wear this pin as a promise to every man in our Armed Services that, until this war is won, I will devote my full energies to the cause for which they are giving their lives.”

First to fly above Times Square, this pennant will give promise of even greater things in store for ’44.

For a fascinating glimpse into the Lab’s activities with a direct connection to the advertisement, watch the 1943 video Crystals Go To War, (at Jeff Quitney’s channel) – “narration by one of the research scientists of the U.S. Army Signal Corps” – produced for Reeves Sound Laboratories by Andre deLaVarre.  The film is also available at


Industrial Research Laboratories of the United States – Including Consulting Research Laboratories (Bulletin of the National Research Council) Number 113; July, 1946.  Compiled by Callie Hull, with the assistance of Mary Timms and Lois Wilson.  

Hazard E. Reeves, at

Reeves Instrument Corporation, at