William Waytena Inventor, Businessman, Entrepreneur  
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The formative moment for inventors and entrepreneurs often comes when they summon the courage to strike out on their own. For Bill Waytena the moment came in 1960. Bill left behind his job as an engineer at Bell Aircraft under the belief that radar was destined to play a bigger role in our lives. This simple thesis was enough to spark his creative interest and begin his entrepreneurial journey with the founding of Radartron and, soon, the invention of the radar detector.

Chicago Sun Times ArticleBill’s instincts were correct. Radar had recently been adopted by the police for use in speed enforcement. It was a boon for local governments and departments throughout the country were deploying “radar cars” despite complaints from citizens and consumer advocates. From the very beginning radar traps were despised by consumers. It was a problem waiting for a solution. In 1961, Bill invented the solution when he introduced a new “radar detector” to the public under the name the Radar Sentry. It was an instant hit that garnered national press coverage.  Bill and the Radar Sentry were featured in Time Magazine, the Chicago Sun Times, Popular Electronics, The Wall Street Journal, and hundreds of other publications. He also appeared on several national television shows including New Horizons, Jack Paar, and Dave Garroway.

Popular Electronics ArticleLimited capabilities are the norm with new inventions. Later modifications usually change the original form factor. Innovations that adhere to the initial product design are rare, especially after 50 years. The Radar Sentry was a fully functional, palm sized device that is recognizable when compared with today’s devices. It even introduced the sun visor clip and dash mount options which are ubiquitous on modern devices. Many of today’s features can be traced to Bill’s original invention. 

The simplicity and usability of his invention belied Bill’s true genius in product design. His skill at anticipating the needs of consumers would be a theme throughout his career. It’s a skill that has only recently been celebrated for its importance—think Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. Simplicity and ease of use are often critical to product success. Bill understood this and would employ it again in other ventures like the electronic synthesizer and the Hotel Worth in Buffalo.

Few inventions last for over fifty years. While Bill’s great innovation has been modified and improved since it was first introduced, it has stood the test of time. Most of the devices today still maintain the same basic product design and form factor that were introduced to the world and patented by Bill Waytena in 1961.

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William Waytena Biography
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Chicago Sun Times

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