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Graham Gosewinckel – 22 November 2013 Aged 83 Years

25 Nov 13
Peter Bull

It is with great sadness that the family of William Graham Gosewinckel advise of his passing on Friday November 22 2013

Graham is survived by his wife, Diana, his children, Vanessa, Amanda and Martin and his granchildren, Adam, Matt, Jade, Natasha, Alex, Ben, Mitchelll and Madeleine.

The family will be hosting a Memorial Celebration of Graham’s life at the Greengate Hotel, Pacific Highway Killara, from midday on Wednesday 27 November 2013. Please NOTE: This is a change from the initial advice.

Graham GosewinckleBy Cyril Vahtrick:

Graham would have been one of the very first people in OTC to qualify for the original criterion of 25 years’ service in overseas telecommunications for OTVA membership. As I remember it, Graham started as an overseas telegram messenger in AWA in 1944 at the age of 14. He studied in his own time to receive radio technician qualifications and when OTC took over from AWA in 1946, he was posted as a technician to the international receiving station at Rockbank in Victoria. With mounting interest in radio technology, Graham undertook an extensive part time study at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology ending up with a Diploma of Radio Engineering in 1954.

He was appointed as Grade 1 Engineer in OTC head office in Sydney. Here he joined with OTC’s only other Grade 1 Engineer, Ron Flood who had just graduated as an engineer from Sydney University on an OTC cadetship. Despite the already extensive experience which Graham had had in Rockbank, the “powers that be” decided that they both needed on-site experience at the new OTC receiving station at Bringelly. It so happened that the station building at Bringelly contained upstairs two bedrooms plus amenities (no doubt to take care of extra staff called in special emergencies). Graham and Ron took to this life with gusto and they were generally known in OTC circles as the “gay bachelors”. I have to say quickly that the 1950’ terminology was a little different from today, as it was not too long before they had found two very attractive young ladies whom they soon married.

Graham soon took over the reins in running Bringelly and to the rest of the staff, he became indispensable. Ron ended up with an “outdoors” job where he was Ron MacDonald’s assistant in erecting and testing the massive high frequency rhombic antennas both in Bringelly and the transmitting station at Doonside. Not long after I joined OTC in 1954 as a Senior Engineer, I requested that our Grade 1 engineers should be given roles in Head Office to enable them to deal with broader issues which we were rapidly facing in technology developments. Our big assignment up to that point had been to prepare our new technical resources to meet the expected high international telecommunications load expected to ensue from the Olympic Games in Melbourne in 1956. With the Games successfully behind us we found ourselves wrestling with the new service of international Telex.

Existing submarine telegraph cables, covering the distance required to reach Australia, could not practically deal with the 50 baud speed required of international Telex, leaving it to the High Frequency Radio services to look to accommodate this need. At a British Commonwealth Telecommunications Conference held in London in 1955, it was agreed that Commonwealth Partners would adopt a new standard for international telegraph operation incorporating a facility for “error correction” on radio telegraph circuits. This system was developed and manufactured by Cable and Wireless and was known as TED (telegraph error detection) using a new 7-unit telegraph code. OTC soon found out that this TED system could not be used for Telex and we decided unilaterally to adopt the alternative system endorsed by all the European countries for telex. I recommended that we send Graham to Europe to sort out the kind of equipment we would need for Telex operation on HF radio. By now as a Grade 2 Engineer, this was a big ask for Graham but he successfully confronted the German Siemens complex which produced for us their electromechanically designed error correction system which allowed OTC to introduce our highly successful international telex service.

Almost immediately, there was a rapid demand for telex, requiring expansion of OTC facilities. We had read about attempts to transform this electromechanical system, with its punched tape mechanism, into a fully electronic system Again, Graham was dispatched to Switzerland to evaluate a new system being developed by Hasler. Although crude by to-day’s standards, the Hasler system embodied basic electronic computer technology and, on Graham’s recommendation, represented OTC’s first entry into computer technology. The new system performed well.

While OTC was catching its breath, the era of repeatered submarine cables was quickly upon us, soon making the HF radio systems obsolescent. In addition, while our COMPAC cable system was being established the new medium of Satellite communication was emerging. Graham and Ron Knightley joined me in constant visits to Washington DC during the early formative stages of establishing INTELSAT.

After the first successful series of INTELSAT satellites were established, Graham and I took the view that the further development of satellite communication technology should not be left only to the “rocket science” people in INTELSAT management who really had no interest in telecommunications. We put forward a proposal that future satellite planning should be directed towards global telecommunications needs and not just to how make bigger and bigger satellites. There was some reluctance to this concept from the space technology people but we eventually persuaded INTELSAT to establish a telecommunications planning committee to advise INTELSAT on future requirements.

Graham was appointed as the inaugural Chairman of this planning committee and, with the first series of INTELSAT satellites (INTELSAT VII) being designed to these criteria, this opened up a new era for satellite communications planning and development. With satellite technology and economics firmly established, Australia turned its attention to the possibility of having a satellite system to cover the vast expanses of the outback. In due course a task force was appointed to report to the government on a domestic satellite communication system.

OTC General Manager Harold White was given leave for twelve months to head up this task force. Two important additional members appointed from OTC to the task force were Graham Gosewinckel and Dick Johnson.

To cut this story short as it departs from international communications, the Government adopted the recommendation to establish a national satellite telecommunications system to be known as Aussat. Graham was appointed as the first Chief Executive of Aussat, a position he served with distinction, gaining the award of AO.

He retired from this position and settled in a property in Avoca.

He was 83 years old when he died.

May He Rest In Peace


Below is a photo of him fromn the FEbruary 1981 edition of Transit

Veterans who started together in Melbourne in 1946

  Gosewinckel BIO


























Courtesy of Alan Brand here’s a photo of Graham Gosewinckel taken at an INTELSAT Board of Governors meeting in Hawaii in 1974 with other INTELSAT delegates including OTC’s Frank Stanton.



From the National Library in Canberra.  Gordon Pike used it as part of a powerpoint presentation that he kept of the entire history of the Aussat/Optus satellite system from 1982 up until when he retired in 2009. The A series satellite model in the background is currently on display at the Optus earth station at Belrose.






























Graham and Diana at the 20th anniversary of the first Aussat satellite launch in 2005. Dick Johnson,  Gordon Pike and many others organised this. It was a great night at the Cromer Golf Club. 

Graham & Diana





Courtesy of Gus Berzins below is a photo of a lunch at “The Summit” on the 3rd July 1975 in connection with the 2nd Meeting of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Council, Specialist Group on System Development.

On the left: Richard Fong (Singapore), Graham Gosewinckel, Graham’s secretary name?, Tony Slade (Cable & Wireless). On the right: Guntis (Gus) Berzins and wife Laima.

The names of the other participants have faded from my memory.

I trust the celebration of Graham’s life brings back many shared memories of

his extensive contribution to that great organisation which was OTC, as well

as to Aussat.

Lunch at the Summit Jul1975


  1. Peter Bull November 25, 2013 at 9:06 am

    From Jim Hulme:

    A sad Monday message. Australia is the richer for his life.

  2. Peter Bull November 25, 2013 at 10:00 am

    From Bob Murray:

    Thanks for the information
    I am very sad to hear of Graham’s passing

    I greatly respected him as the CEO of AUSSAT and found his regular addresses to the staff very motivating. He was always very approachable and helpful.

    He was a bit of a car fanatic and owned a red Triumph Spitfire sports car but I wont hold that against him as a choice of collectables.


  3. Peter Bull November 26, 2013 at 8:14 am

    From David Wills:

    I saw the notice in the herald and the ” Dr. William” threw me at first.
    My association was with the Aussat Project.
    I was given the task of finding a site for the earth station. The site that I selected that met the criteria which included line of sight to the CBD for a microwave link and the ability for the dish to come down to within 5degrees of the horizon as it would be involved in getting the satellite into orbit. Checking these aspects involved going up with a camera in a 90ft. cherry picker. The site that I had selected was next to Forestway but ,unfortunately, just after OTC went to the Council to obtain the land,the ABC broadcast a program claiming that people living under low angle satellite transmissions developed cancer and so that is why the earth station is where it is now.

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