People & Places

Arthur Collins documentary to premiere

Film will be shown Friday night at Coe College

Gazette archive photo

Arthur A. Collins (left) president of Collins Radio Company, and Dr. Harold V. Gaskill, vice president, planning, at Collins, examine a full scale antenna test mockup of a Project Mercury capsule in 1959. A new documentary on Collins will premiere Friday.
Gazette archive photo Arthur A. Collins (left) president of Collins Radio Company, and Dr. Harold V. Gaskill, vice president, planning, at Collins, examine a full scale antenna test mockup of a Project Mercury capsule in 1959. A new documentary on Collins will premiere Friday.
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CEDAR RAPIDS — A new documentary premiering this week focuses on the life and entrepreneurial spirit of Arthur Collins, founder of the Collins Radio Company.

“The Arthur Collins Legacy: A Culture of Innovation,” will premiere t 7:30 p.m. Friday at Coe College's Sinclair Auditorium. The 24-minute film, narrated by Iowa broadcaster Cary J. Hahn, includes people who knew Collins best. Among them is Michael Collins, Collins' eldest son, who also will introduce the film Friday.

The program also will feature rare Collins Radio Company artifacts and a question and answer session.

Producer Lawrence Robinson said the project took two years to complete, and interviews primarily were conducted at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Cedar Rapids. During the summer of 2014, the team traveled to California for additional interviews, conducted by cinematographer Thomas Ackerman.

Robinson, an engineer who has worked at Rockwell Collins since 1999, called Collins “the most underrated technical innovator of the 20th century.” He said he hopes people walk away from the film with a “newfound appreciation for the technical accomplishments of the man and the incredible caliber of people with whom he surrounded himself.”

“He created this incredible culture of innovation,” Robinson added. “We want people to come out who are curious about the origins of this mysterious company that started off as the Collins Radio Company and its enigmatic founder. This will be a very unique opportunity to lift back the veil of 'how did this place get started and who was this Collins guy and what did he do again?”

Robinson is a member of the nonprofit Arthur A. Collins Legacy Association, which was created in January 2014 to preserve and honor Collins' legacy and contributions.

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Rod Blocksome, president of the association, said the documentary will give viewers “insight into the personality and genius of Arthur Collins and the company that he created.”

“It should be a little bit of an inspiration to people considering a career in science or engineering or technology to look back and see how this man accomplished what he did,” Blocksome said.

Copies of the documentary will be available for sale. The goal is to eventually have them available for checkout at the library.

If you go

What: Premiere of “The Arthur Collins Legacy: A Culture of Innovation”

When: 7:30 p.m., Friday

Where: Sinclair Auditorium, Coe College, 1220 First Ave. NE, Cedar Rapids

For more information: Call (319) 210-3353.

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