George Owen Squier

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Chief Signal Officer, U.S. Army

George Owen Squier
George Owen Squier.jpg
Major General George Owen Squier
Born(1865-03-21)March 21, 1865[1]
Dryden, Michigan
DiedMarch 24, 1934(1934-03-24) (aged 69)
Washington, D.C.
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branchEmblem of the United States Department of the Army.svg United States Army
Years of service1887–1923
RankUS-O8 insignia.svg Major General
Commands heldChief Signal Officer
Battles/warsSpanish–American War
World War I
AwardsDistinguished Service Medal
Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George
Order of the Crown of Italy
Legion of Honor
Elliott Cresson Medal
John Scott Medal
Franklin Medal
Other workbusinessman, scientist

Major General George Owen Squier (March 21, 1865 – March 24, 1934)[2] was born in Dryden, Michigan, United States.[1] He graduated from the United States Military Academy in the Class of 1887[3] and received a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 1893.

He was famous both in the United States and in Europe as a soldier, a scientist and as an inventor.[4] He is known for what today is called Muzak.[5][6]

Life and military career[edit]

Portrait of George Owen Squier, by Harris & Ewing, c. 1911.

George Squier wrote and edited many books and articles on the subject of radio and electricity.[citation needed] An inventor, he and Dartmouth professor Albert Cushing Crehore developed a magneto-optical streak camera "The Polarizing Photo-chronograph" in 1896 to measure the speed of projectiles both inside a cannon and directly after they left the cannon barrel. This was one of the earliest photonic programs. They also worked to develop synchronous AC telegraphic systems. His biggest contribution was that of telephone carrier multiplexing in 1910 for which he was elected to the National Academy of Science in 1919.[2][verification needed][3]

As executive officer to the Chief Signal Officer, U.S. Signal Corps in 1907, Squier was instrumental in the establishment of the Aeronautical Division, U.S. Signal Corps, the first organizational ancestor of the US Air Force.[7] He also was the first military passenger in an airplane on September 12, 1908[8] and, working with the Wright Brothers, was responsible for the purchase of the first airplanes by the US Army in 1909.

From May 1916 to February 1917, he was Chief of the Aviation Section, U.S. Signal Corps, the first successor of the Aeronautical Division, before being promoted to major general and appointed Chief Signal Officer during World War I.[9]

In 1922, he created Wired Radio, a service which piped music to businesses and subscribers over wires.[4] In 1934, he changed the service's name to 'Muzak'.

Asked how to say his name, he told The Literary Digest it was pronounced like the word square.[10]

He was a member of the Sons of the American Revolution.[11]


He died in Washington, D.C., at George Washington Hospital[12] on March 24, 1934[13] of pneumonia.


Dates of rank[edit]

No Insignia Cadet, United States Military Academy: 1 July 1883
No Insignia in 1886 Second Lieutenant, Regular Army: 12 June 1887
US-O2 insignia.svg
First Lieutenant, Regular Army: 30 June 1893
US-O3 insignia.svg
Captain, Volunteer Army: 1 June 1898
(Date of rank was 20 May 1898.)
US-O5 insignia.svg
Lieutenant Colonel, Volunteer Army: 20 July 1898
US-O2 insignia.svg
First Lieutenant, Regular Army: 7 December 1898
(Reverted to permanent rank.)
US-O3 insignia.svg
Captain, Volunteer Army: 17 April 1899
US-O3 insignia.svg
Captain, Regular Army: 1 July 1901
(Date of rank was 2 February 1901.)
US-O4 insignia.svg
Major, Regular Army: 2 March 1903
US-O5 insignia.svg
Lieutenant Colonel, Regular Army: 17 March 1913
US-O7 insignia.svg
Brigadier General, Temporary: 14 February 1917
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Colonel, Regular Army: 12 April 1917
US-O8 insignia.svg
Major General, Temporary: 8 October 1917
US-O6 insignia.svg
Colonel, Regular Army: 14 February 1921
(Reverted to permanent rank.)
US-O8 insignia.svg
Major General, Temporary: 28 March 1921
(Date of rank was 6 October 1917.)
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Major General, Retired list: 31 December 1923


USS General G.O. Squier (AP-130)

In 1943, the U.S. Navy named troopship USS General G. O. Squier (AP-130) in his honor. It was the lead ship of its class, which was known as General G. O. Squier class of transport ships.

General Squier Park, a historic district and waterpark in his hometown of Dryden, Michigan, is named in his honor.[14][15]


  • Crehore, Albert Cushing; George Owen Squier (1897). The Polarizing Photo-Chronograph. London: John Wiley & Sons.
  • — (1908). "The Present Status of Military Aeronautics". Annual Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution: 117. Retrieved 2009-08-07.
  • — (1919). Multiplex Telephony And Telegraphy By Means Of Electric Waves Guided By Wires. Washington: Government Printing Office.


  1. ^ a b "Biographical Memoir of George Owen Squier 1865-1934", by Arthur E. Kennelly, National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Biographical Memoirs Volume XX, presented to the Academy at the Annual Meeting, 1938. Retrieved Apr 1, 2010.
  2. ^ a b "George Owen Squire (1865 - 1934)".
  3. ^ a b "George Owen Squier, Major General, United States Army". George Owen Squier was born in Dryden, Michigan, 21 March 1865 and graduated from the Military Academy in 1877.
  4. ^ a b Clark, Paul W.; Lyons, Laurence A. (2014-05-27). George Owen Squier: U.s. Army Major General, Inventor. ISBN 978-0786476350. During the 1920s and '30s, Major General George Owen Squier was one of the most famous men in America and abroad, as a scientist, soldier, military ...
  5. ^ "George Owen Squier Invents Muzak". In 1922 American Army Signal Corps officer and inventor Major General George Owen Squier of Washington, D. C. created "Wired Radio," a service that ...
  6. ^ "The rise of elevator Muzak began with this Michigan inventor". Major General George Owen Squier. The name may not be familiar, but his work in the fields of aeronautics and radio communications ...
  7. ^ Davis, Jr., Henry Blaine (1998). Generals in Khaki. Pentland Press, Inc. p. 346. ISBN 978-1571970886. OCLC 40298151.
  8. ^ "George Owen Squier". George Owen Squier ... his willingness to be a passenger, making him the first officer to fly in an airplane, on September 12, 1908.
  9. ^ Davis, Jr., Henry Blaine (1998). Generals in Khaki. Pentland Press, Inc. p. 346. ISBN 978-1571970886. OCLC 40298151.
  10. ^ Funk, Charles Earle (1936). What's the name, please? A guide to the correct pronunciation of current prominent names. New York: Funk & Wagnalls. OCLC 1463642.
  11. ^ Sons of the American Revolution; Louis Henry Cornish; Alonzo Howard Clark (1902). A National Register of the Society, Sons of the American Revolution. Sons of the American Revolution, ... GEORGE OWEN SQUIER, U. S. Army (4257).
  12. ^ Associated Press, "Former Leader of Air Service Dies, The San Bernardino Daily Sun, San Bernardino, California, Sunday 25 March 1934, Volume 40, page 1.
  13. ^ Davis, Jr., Henry Blaine (1998). Generals in Khaki. Pentland Press, Inc. p. 346. ISBN 978-1571970886. OCLC 40298151.
  14. ^ "Lapeer County Parks". Archived from the original on 2012-04-22.
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-06-01. Retrieved 2011-06-04.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

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