Hugo Gernsback (1884 – 1967) was a writer, editor, inventor and magazine publisher, sometimes regarded – along with Jules Verne and H. G. Wells – as one of “The Fathers of Science Fiction” – though this is more for his importance as as an editor and for his editorials than for his own fiction.
In 1908 he founded the magazine Modern Electrics in order to tap into the then-popular fad for amateur wireless and to provide mail-order information for radio parts; readership began at a modest 2,000 people but had increased to 52,000 by 1911. He sold the magazine in 1913, after which it merged with Electrician and Mechanic to become Modern Electrics and Mechanics; by this time he had begun publishing another similar magazine, The Electrical Experimenter (retitled Science and Invention from 1920). Among the contributors to the latter magazine was Nikola Tesla, who wrote five articles for the magazine between August 1917 and July 1919, as well as serializing his autobiography there in 1919.
In April 1926 he founded the pulp magazine Amazing Stories, the first magazine devoted to science fiction – or ‘scientifiction’ as he called it:
By ‘scientifiction’ I mean the Jules Verne, H. G. Wells and Edgar Allan Poe type of story — a charming romance intermingled with scientific fact and prophetic vision … Not only do these amazing tales make tremendously interesting reading—they are always instructive. They supply knowledge . . . in a very palatable form … New adventures pictured for us in the scientifiction of today are not at all impossible of realization tomorrow … Many great science stories destined to be of historical interest are still to be written … Posterity will point to them as having blazed a new trail, not only in literature and fiction, but progress as well.
— Hugo Gernsback, Amazing Stories, April 1926
Artist Frank R. Paul, who had worked with Gernsback since 1914, painted 38 covers for the magazine from it’s first issue in April 1926 until June 1929 when Gernsback lost control of the magazine; he followed Gernsback to his later magazines Air Wonder Stories, Science Wonder Stories and Wonder Stories, plus the associated quarterlies, which together published another 103 of his covers between June 1929 to April 1936.
Amazing Stories continued, in Gernsback’s absence, for almost eighty years.
The annual Science Fiction Achievement awards are named the “Hugos” in his honor.