Cleartone Radio Supply Company, Providence Rhode Island, was a supply company that also produced one known product, a crystal set. First mention of Cleartone and its proprietor, Albert E Proffitt was in 19221. Albert was born on2 in July 9th 18958 and listed as being a telephone operator and living on 148 Authur Avenue in the 1915 Providence directory5
In 1916 we find Albert living at 160 Reynolds Ave and working at 661 Westminster Ave in Providence as a Electrician11
In 1917 Albert registered for the draft for WWI, is listed as a telephone repair man working for the Providence Telephone Company and living at 25 Comstock Ave, Providence.9
There is a record of Albert arriving in New York from Bordaux France, on the steamer Panaman, on May 23, 1919, as part of the 401st Telegraph Battalion. The members of the Battalion are largely members of the New England and Providence Telephone Companies. 15 They eventually returned home to Providence, June 3, 1919. 16
Click to enlarge
The 401st Telegraph Battalion
World War 1917-1919
He is listed as a telephone lineman and living at Laura St. in the 1920 census2.
In the 1920 Providence directory he is listed as living at 5 Laura St and his occupation is an electrician3 at 112 Union St which was the New England Telephone and Telegraph Company4. Albert and Cora had 2 children Albert and Dom6 .
In 1922 there are reports in both the New York Times 13, Healdsburg Tribune 14 and The Providence Journal 17 that Mr Proffitt discovered a way to listen in on private telephone calls using a four step audio frequency amplifier circuit, home made with modifications.
March 23, 1922
Somewhat related to these reports is a article in the Providence Journal December 27th, 1926. It seems a George R Burgess reported picking up telephone conversations on Block Island using a newly built receiving set. After going over his work for a few days and tightening all his connection the telephone calls went away and he started picking up regular radio station. Did Burgess mistakenly happen upon the same circuit Albert E Proffitt should not disclose to anyone?
December 27th 1926
The 1940 Census lists Mr Proffitt as living at 70 Audubon Ave in Providence, occupation, telephone maintenance7
In 1942 Albert regstered for the WWII draft. He is listed as working for the New England Telephone Company at 234 Washington Street in Provicence10.
Later in life Mr Proffitt worked at Brown & Sharp as an inspector. It is interesting to note that in the same directory listing it lists another Albert E who is a repairman for New England Telephone & Telegraph. Since it has been establiahed the Albert lived in North Providence at this time you can conclude the other listing is the Son, whom seems like followed in his dads footsteps12.
Mr Proffitt died on January 27th, 19538
1 Electrical Merchandising, December, 1922
2 1920 Census
3 1922 Providence House Directory
4 Biennial Report of the Public Serivice Commission of the State of Vermont
5 1915 Providence House Directory
6 1930 Census
7 1940 Census
8 Social Security Death Record
9 WWI Draft Card
10 WWII Draft Card
11 1916 Providence City Directory
12 1941 Providence City Directory
13 New York Times, 1922
14 Healdsburg Tribune, April 1922
15 Providence Journal, May 24, 1919
16 Providence Journal, June 4, 1919
17 Providence Journal, March 10, 1922