The Collins Story

On the 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing

Saturday, July 13 through February 2020

Admission to the Marion Heritage Center is free courtesy of a grant from the McIntyre Foundation of Cedar Rapids. Exhibition is sponsored in part by the City of Marion Hotel Motel Grant Program.

This Marion Heritage Center exhibit focuses on Arthur Collins’ early interest in radio communications and the work of his company, Collins Radio, in extending the reach of radio into space.

Collins first used radio at the age of 7 to reach out to friends in Cedar Rapids. In 1925, at age 16, Collins established shortwave radio communications with explorers investigating the Greenland icecap and Arctic Sea. In 1933, when Collins was only 24 years old, he was able to maintain connections with Admiral Byrd’s South Pole expedition team using a special transmitter he designed.

The exhibit discusses his pioneering 1950 “Moon bounce” experiment which proved the viability of radio communication through space, and the first-ever transmission of voice and pictures by the Echo I satellite in 1960. Although Collins never reached his personal goal of being heard on Mars, his company has created the equipment to transmit voice and images since the beginning of the space program.


Program presented at the Marion Heritage Center & Museum on October 10, 2019
Michael Collins reminisces about the life of his father, Arthur A. Collins, and places his achievements in context with other radio pioneers.


KCCK Culture Crawl with Dennis Green – October 8, 2019 – “Of Space, Radio, and Silk Moths”
Michael Collins retells some of the most famous stories about his dad, Arthur A. Collins, including how he became famous as a teenager by maintaining radio contact with a ship exploring the Arctic, when even the U.S. Navy was unable to do so. You’ll also learn the link between wild silk moths and the German aeronautical engineer who has a Cedar Rapids street named for him.

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