Having Had His Patents Stolen, He Now Had a License to Steal

This is a real story of  Walter L Shaw and his son Walter T Shaw.

Walter L. Shaw was an inventor and had an astonishing 39 patents to his credit.  His innovations have been widely used by everyone in day to day life. Some of his breakthrough inventions included the hands free speaker phone, the black box (a toll free calling device), call forwarding, the White House “Red Phone” alert system, a tone generator which later because the touch pad for touch tone dialing, conference calling, and extend-a-watts.  His inventions would take us into the 21st century, but they were all invented between 1964-1971 and his last invention of popularity was voice print recognition and was invented in 1984.  His last invention was the First burglar alarm that dialed the police.

He has been quoted as “technological genius” and but none of the accomplishments and recognitions came to his rescue at the time of death.

Walter L. Shaw was born in Vineland, New Jersey in 1917.   He started his career with Bell Laboratories in 1935.   The first invention was in 1948, the automatic loud speaking telephone–hands free, commonly referred to as the speakerphone. At Bell Labs, he invented Feedback Neutralization system and got his first patent.  In 1953, he invented two way communications Unit.

In 1954, he is commissioned by Eisenhower, The President of the United States, to design the “Red Phone” system, a direct link between the White House and the Kremlin.   Under Eisenhower’s directin, Shaw was put in the supervisory position of the Globular Communication Control Center Installation for the complte control of their telephone, telex, single-sideband radio requirements of Elmendorf Airforce Branch, Anchorage, Alaska.  Mr. Shaw was in direct control of 40 airmen for this assignment.  The “Red Phone” was developed during this time.

In 1961, Shaw and a companion, Ralph Satterfield, were arrested and charged in the free call system case by both Gerstein’s office and by New York authorities.

Shaw was again charged with two counts of attaching the devices to telephones. The charge is a misdemeanour, punishable by a maximum $500 fine and one year in prison.

The State Attorney’s office today reported the arrest in Miami of Walter L. Shaw the inventor of a device used by a bookmaking ring in New York to make long distance phone calls without paying.

In 1968, he invented automatic re-routing system for telephone subsriber station.  Now known as ‘call forwding’feature in most phones. In 1969, he invented Conference Call Equipment.  In 1971, he filed for Remote Dialling Apparatus with Encoder / Decoder Control means.

In 1995, Walter L. Shaw is re-united with his son, Walter T. Shaw after 25 years.  The elder Shaw was suffering from prostate cancer and living out the last years of his life in Reno, Nevada.   In July 1996, Walter L. Shaw loses his battle against prostate cancer.

With all his inventions and 39 patents for things we use everyday, Walter L. Shaw left this worlds unrecognized and broke.

He is posthumously given a degree from Coral Ridge Baptist University . . . although he never got to see it.   Walter L. Shaw is finally recognized for his genius and his contributions to society. He has been described as “a man out of step with the times in which he lived,” as he was far ahead of the rest of the scientific community in the world of electronics, conceptualizing 25 years ago voice and data transmission technologies regarded as common place today.

Shaw Sr., desperate for money, turned to the mafia and designed the “black box” that allowed Mob bookmakers to make toll-free, untraceable calls.   However, it was this device that landed Shaw Sr. in front of a Senate subcommittee and Robert F. Kennedy, for which he was later convicted.  Found guilty on eight counts of illegal phone usage.

Watching in anger as his father was convicted, Walter T. Shaw, son of Walter Senior, then 12, was comforted by an unlikely figure: New York mob boss Carlo Gambino.  He whispered to Walter Jr., “The only difference between us and these politicians, judges and senators, is they have a license to steal and we don’t need one.”

A LICENSE TO STEAL by Walter T. Shaw is born out of this and it’s son’s revenge and his true dedication to his father.

A License To Steal, Shaw Jr. maintains that it should have been his father who became famous. Although Shaw Sr. died penniless, he invented and patented several telephonic breakthroughs including the speakerphone, conference calling, call-forwarding and even the “Red Phone” used by the Eisenhower White House to contact the Kremlin.  However, as a systems engineer for Bell, the most powerful monopoly of that time, he was stopped from marketing his inventions.

Walter’s revenge on the rich and famous soon began.  Here are some insights:

  • The FBI blamed Walter’s  crew for a staggering 3,000 jobs worth more than $70 million since the early 1970s.
  • In 1968, was a recognized solider for a National Mafia boss.
  • In 1969 joined the “Dinner Time Burglar” jewel thief ring (they robbed when people were home and eating dinner) and in 1974 broke off, forming his own crew
  • Among their alleged victims were Liberace, the DuPonts and Firestone families
  • Never caught in the act, but was ratted out and convicted on 4 different counts sentenced to 49 years of imprisonment
  • Because of death threats was moved to death row in the cell next to serial killer Ted Bundy.
  • Walter spent in excess of 11 years in prison.
  • Lost touch with his dad. Walter Jr. eventually reconciled with his father 18 months before the elder Shaw died of cancer in 1996.

A father’s genius; a son’s revenge, but payback has its price.

May 1, 2008  Ft. Lauderdale, FL Walter T. Shaw is considered the world’s most notorious (former) jewel thief.  His long-awaited memoir, A License To Steal, (Omega Publishing, April ’08, $24.95, hardcover) chronicles the saga of his father, probably one of the most important inventors of our time, who was ripped off by corporate America and the mafia, and how this drove Walter himself to become one of the country’s most famous jewel thieves, having taken an estimated $70 million from the rich and famous from Long Island to Florida. In the forward by Frank Vincent (Phil Leotardo in The Sopranos) writes, “Full of love, fear, violence, hate and the quest for redemption, this book is an unbelievable journey through life.”

A License to Steal will soon be made into a motion picture and Walter is in talks with the major Hollywood studios.  Walter, a media darling, has appeared on Oprah, Rachael Ray, Montel Williams, and Inside Edition to talk about burglary prevention.

By Walter T. Shaw
Omega Publishing
April, 2008
$24.95, Hardcover
ISBN: 978-0-9786059-0-2

Walter T. Shaw

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