Part 3 out of 3
a hundred and fifty miles from shore. Beyond that point he could not
send messages, as the sending apparatus on the ship lacked sufficient
power. Messages were received, however, until the sending station
was over two thousand miles away. This seemed miraculous to those
on shipboard, but Marconi accepted it as a matter of course. He had
equipped the Poldhu station to send twenty-one hundred miles, and he
knew that it should accomplish the feat.
A large station was set up at Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, and regular
communication was established between there and Poldhu. With the
establishment of regular transatlantic communication the utility of
Marconi's invention, even for work at great distances, was no longer
open to question. By quiet, unassuming, conscientious work he had put
another great carrier of messages at the service of the world, and he
now reaped the fame and fortune which he so richly deserved.
THE WIRELESS SERVES THE WORLD
Marconi Organized Wireless Telegraphy Commercially--The New Wonder
at the Service of the World--Marine Disasters Prevented--The
Extension of the Wireless on Shipboard--Improved Apparatus--The
Wireless in the World War--The Boy and the Wireless.
With his clear understanding of the possibilities of his invention,
Marconi was not long in establishing the wireless upon a commercial
basis. He is a man of keen business judgment, and as he brought his
invention forward and clearly demonstrated its worth at a time when
commercial enterprise was alert he found no great difficulty in
establishing his company. The first Marconi company was organized
as early as 1897 under the name of the Wireless Telegraph and Signal
Company, Limited. This was later displaced by the Marconi Telegraph
Company, which operates a regular system of stations on a commercial
basis, carrying messages in competition with the cable and telegraph
companies. It also erects stations for other companies which are
operated under the Marconi patents.
With the telegraph and the telephone so well established and serving
the needs of ordinary communication on land, it was natural that the
wireless should make headway but slowly as a commercial proposition
between points on land. For communication at sea, however, it had no
competition, and merchant-ships as well as war vessels were rapidly
equipped with wireless apparatus.
When the great liner _Republic_ was sinking as a result of a collision
off the port of New York in 1903 her wireless brought aid. Her
passengers and crew were taken off in safety, and what otherwise would
have been a terrible disaster was avoided by the use of the wireless.
The utility of the wireless was again brought sharply to the attention
of the world. It was realized that a wireless set on a passenger-ship
was necessary if the lives of the passengers were to be safeguarded.
The United States Government by its laws now requires that
passenger-ships shall be equipped with wireless apparatus in charge of
a competent operator.
One of the early objections made to the wireless was its apparent lack
of secrecy, since any other receiving apparatus within range of the
waves sent forth by the sending station can receive the signals. It
was also realized that as soon as any considerable number of stations
were established about the world, and began sending messages to and
fro, there would be a perfect jumble of waves flying about in all
directions through the ether, so that no messages could be sent or
Marconi's answer to these difficulties was the tuning apparatus. The
electric waves carrying the messages may be sent out at widely varying
lengths. Marconi found that it was possible to adjust a receiving
station so that it would receive only waves of a certain length.
Thus stations which desired to communicate could select a certain
wave-length, and they could send and receive messages without
interfering with others using different wave-lengths, or without the
receiving station being confused by messages coming in from
other stations using different wave-lengths. You know that when a
tuning-fork is set in vibration another of the same pitch near it will
vibrate with it, but others of different pitch will not be affected.
The operation of wireless stations in tune with each other is similar.
[Illustration: A REMARKABLE PHOTOGRAPH TAKEN OUTSIDE OF THE CLIFDEN
STATION WHILE MESSAGES WERE BEING SENT ACROSS TO CAPE RACE
The camera was exposed for two hours, and the white bars show the
sparks leaving the wires for their journey through the air for
seventeen hundred miles.]
[Illustration: MARCONI STATION AT CLIFDEN, IRELAND
These dynamos send a message straight across the ocean.]
An example of the value of tuning is afforded by the manner in which
press reports are sent from the great Marconi station at Poldhu. Each
night at a certain hour this station sends out news reports of the
events of the day, using a certain set wave-length. Each ship on the
Atlantic and every land station within range which is to receive the
reports at that hour adjusts its receiving set to receive waves of
that length. In this way they hear nothing but the Poldhu news reports
which they desire to receive, and are not troubled by messages from
other stations within range.
Secrecy is also attained by the use of tuning. It is possible that
another station may discover the wave-length being used for a secret
message and "listen in," but there are so many possible wave-lengths
that this is difficult. Secrecy may also be secured by the use of code
Many of the advantages of tuning were lost by the international
agreement which provided that but two wave-lengths should be used for
commercial work. This, however, enables ships to get in touch with
other ships in time of need. With his telephone receivers the operator
can hear the passage of the waves as they are brought to him by his
aerial and the dots and dashes sound as buzzes of greater or less
length. Out of the confusion of currents passing through the air he
can select the messages he wishes to read by sound.
You may wonder how one wireless operator gets into communication with
another. He first listens in to determine whether messages are coming
through the ether within range in the wave-length he is to use.
Hearing nothing, he adjusts his sending apparatus to the desired
wave-length and switches this in with the signal aerial which
serves both his sending and his receiving set. This at the same time
disconnects his receiving set. He sends out the call letters of the
station to which he wishes to send a message, following them with
his own call letters, as a signature to show who is calling. After
repeating these signals several times he switches out his sending set
and listens in with his receiving set. If he then gets an answer from
the other station he can begin sending the message.
Marconi was not allowed to hold the wireless field unmolested.
Many others set up wireless stations, some of them infringing upon
Marconi's patents. Others have devised wireless systems along
more original lines. Particularly we should mention two American
experimenters, Dr. de Forest and Professor Fessenden. Both have
established wireless systems with no little promise. The system of
Professor Fessenden is especially unique and original and may be
destined to work a revolution in the methods of wireless telegraphy.
With an increase in the number of wireless stations and varieties
of apparatus came a wide increase in the uses to which wireless
telegraphy was applied. We have already noticed the press service
from Poldhu. The British Government makes use of this same station to
furnish daily news to its representatives in all parts of the
world. The wireless is also used to transmit the time from the great
Some of the railroads in the United States have equipped their trails
as well as their stations with wireless sets. It has proved its worth
in communicating between stations, taking the place in time of need
of either the telegraph or the telephone. In equipping the trains with
sets a difficulty was met in arranging the aerials. It is, of course,
impossible to arrange the wires at any height above the cars, since
they would be swept away in passing under bridges. Even with very low
aerials, however, communication has been successfully maintained at
a distance of over a hundred miles. The speed of the fastest train
affects the sending and receiving of messages not at all. It was also
found that messages passed without hindrance, even though the train
was passing through a tunnel.
Another interesting application of wireless telegraphy is to the
needs of the fire-fighters. Fire stations in New York City have been
equipped with wireless telegraph sets, and they have proved so useful
in spreading alarms and transmitting news of fires that they seem
destined to come into universal use.
The outbreak of the world war gave a tremendous impetus to the
development of wireless telegraphy. The German cable to the United
States was cut in the early days of the conflict. The sending power
of wireless stations had been sufficiently increased, however, so that
the great German stations could communicate with those in the United
States. Communication was readily maintained between the Allies by
means of wireless, the great stations at Poldhu and at the Eiffel
Tower in Paris being in constant communication with each other and
with the stations in Italy and in Russia.
Portable field sets had been used with some slight success even in the
Boer War, and had definitely proved their worth in the Balkans. The
outbreak of the greater war found all of the nations equipped with
portable apparatus for the use of their armies. These proved of
great use. The field sets of the United States Army also proved their
utility in the campaign into Mexico in pursuit of Villa. By their
means it was possible for General Pershing's forces to keep in
constant touch with the headquarters in the United States.
The wireless proved as valuable to the navies as had been anticipated.
The Germans in particular made great improvements in light wireless
sets designed for use on aircraft. The problem of placing an aerial on
an aeroplane is difficult, but no little headway has been made in this
It is the American boy who has done the most interesting work with the
wireless in the United States. While the commercial development
has been comparatively slow, the boys have set up stations by the
thousands. Most of these stations were constructed by the boys
themselves, who have learned and are learning how best to apply this
modern wonder to the service of man. So many amateurs set up stations
that the Government found it necessary to regulate them by law.
The law now requires that amateur experimenters use only short
wave-lengths in their sending, which will not interfere with messages
from Government or commercial stations. It also provides for the
licensing of amateurs who prove competent.
The stations owned and operated by boys have already proved of great
use. In times of storm and flood when wire communication failed they
have proved the only means of communicating with many districts. In
time of war these amateur stations, scattered in all parts of the
country, might prove immensely valuable. Means have now been taken to
so organize the amateurs that they can communicate with one another,
and by this means messages may be sent to any part of the country.
One young American, John Hays Hammond, Jr., has applied the wireless
in novel and interesting ways. By means of special apparatus mounted
on a small boat he can by the means of a wireless station on shore
start or stop the vessel, or steer it in any direction by his wireless
control. He has applied the same system to the control of torpedoes.
By this means a torpedo may be controlled after it has left the shore
and may be directed in any direction as long as it is within sight.
This invention may prove of incalculable benefit should America be
attacked by a foreign power.
What startling developments of wireless telegraphy lie still in the
future we do not know. Marconi has predicted that wireless messages
will circle the globe. "I believe," he has said, "that in the near
future a wireless message will be sent from New York completely around
the world without relaying, and will be received by an instrument
in the same office with the transmitter, in perhaps less time than
Shakespeare's forty minutes."
Not long ago the United States battle-ship _Wyoming_, lying off Cape
Henry on the Atlantic coast, communicated with the _San Diego_ at
Guaymas, on the Pacific coast of Mexico. This distance, twenty-five
hundred miles across land, shows that Marconi's prediction may be
realized in the not distant future.
SPEAKING ACROSS THE CONTINENT
A New "Hello Boy" in Boston--Why the Boy Sought the Job--The Useful
Things the Boy Found to Do--Young Carty and the Multiple
Switchboard--Called to New York City--He Quiets the Roaring
Wires--Carty Made Engineer-in-Chief--Extending the Range of the
Human Voice--New York Talks to San Francisco Over a Wire.
It seemed to many that the wireless telegraph was to be the final word
in the development of communication, but two striking achievements
coming in 1915 proved this to be far from the case. While one group of
scientists had given themselves to experimentation with the Hertzian
waves which led to wireless telegraphy, other scientists and engineers
were busily engaged in bringing the telephone to a perfection
which would enable it to accomplish even more striking feats. These
electrical pioneers did not work as individuals, but were grouped
together as the engineering staff of the American Telephone and
Telegraph Company. At their head was John J. Carty, and it was under
his guiding genius that the great work was accomplished. John Carty
is the American son of Irish parents. He was born in Cambridge,
Massachusetts, on April 14, 1861. His father was a gun-maker and an
expert mechanic of marked intelligence and ingenuity who numbered
among his friends Howe, the creator of the sewing-machine. As a boy
John Carty displayed the liveliest interest in things electrical. When
the time came for him to go to school, physics was his favorite study.
He showed himself to be possessed of a keen mind and an infinite
capacity for work. To these advantages was added a good elementary
education. He was graduated from Cambridge Latin School, where he
prepared for Harvard University. Before he could enter the university
his eyesight failed, and the doctor forbade continuance of study.
Many a boy would have been discouraged by this physical handicap which
denied him complete scholastic preparation. But this boy was not
the kind that gives up. He had been supplementing his school work
in physics with experimentations upon his own behalf. Let us let Mr.
Carty tell in his own words how he next occupied himself.
I had often visited the shop of Thomas Hall, at 19 Bromfield
Street, and looked in the window. I went in from time to time,
not to make large purchases, but mostly to make inquiries and
to buy some blue vitriol, wire, or something of the kind. It
was a store where apparatus was sold for experimentation in
schools, and on Saturdays a number of Harvard and Institute
of Technology professors could be found there. It was quite a
rendezvous for the scientific men in those days, just the
same as the Old Corner Bookstore at the corner of School and
Washington Streets was a place where the literary men used to
congregate. Don't think that I was an associate of these great
scientists, but I was very much attracted to the atmosphere of
that store. I wanted to get in and handle the apparatus.
Finally it occurred to me that I would like to get into the
business, somehow. But I did not have the courage to go in
and ask them for a job. One day I was going by and saw a sign
hanging out, "Boy Wanted." I was about nineteen, and really
thought I was something of a scientist, not exactly a boy. I
was a boy, however. I walked by on one side of the street and
then on the other, looking in, and finally the idea possessed
me to go in and strike for that job. So I took down the sign,
which was outside the window, put it under my arm, and went in
and persuaded Tom Hall that I was the boy he wanted.
He said, "When can you begin?" I said, "Now." There was no
talk of wages or duties. He said, "Take this package around
to Earle & Prew's express and hurry back, as I have another
errand for you to do." So I had to take a great, heavy box
around to the express-office and get a receipt for it. I
found, when Saturday night came around, that I had been
engaged at the rate of fifty cents a day. I would have been
glad to work for nothing.
Well, I did not get near that apparatus in a hurry, not until
the time came for fixing up the window. My first talk in
regard to it had no reference to services in a scientific
capacity on my part. I had rather hoped that the boss would
come around and consult with, me as to how to adjust the
apparatus. But that was not it. He said: "John, clean out that
window. Everything is full of dust, and be careful and don't
break anything!" So I cleaned it out. I swept out the place,
cleaned about there, did errands, mixed battery solutions, and
got a great deal of experience there in one way or another. I
did whatever there was to do and got a good deal of fun out
of it, while becoming acquainted with the state of the art of
that day. I got to know intimately all the different sorts of
philosophical apparatus there were, and how to mix the various
battery solutions. In fact, I became really quite experienced
for those times in such matters.
It was not long before young Carty lost his job. Being a regular boy,
he had been guilty of too much skylarking. This experience steadied
him, and he forthwith sought a new job. He had met some of the
employees of the telephone company and was naturally interested in
their work. At that time "hello boys" held sway in the crude telephone
exchanges, the "hello girl" having not yet appeared. So John Carty at
the age of nineteen went to work in the Boston telephone exchange.
The switchboard at which they placed him had been good enough for
the other boys who had been called upon to operate it, and indeed
it represented the best thought and effort of the leaders in the
telephone world. But it did not satisfy Carty, who, not content
with simply-operating the board, studied its construction and began
planning improvements. As Mr. Carty himself puts it:
The little switchboards of that day were a good deal like the
automobiles of some years ago--one was likely to spend more
time under the switchboard than, sitting at it! In that way I
learned a great deal about the arrangement and construction
of switchboards. Encountering the trouble first, I had an
advantage over others in being able to suggest a remedy. So I
have always thought it was a good thing to have troubles, as
long as they are not too serious or too numerous. Troubles are
certainly a great advantage, if we manage them correctly.
Certainly Carty made these switchboard troubles the first
stepping-stone in his climb to the top in the field of telephone
engineering. The improvements which the youngster suggested were so
valuable that they were soon being made under his direction, and
ere long he installed in the Boston exchange the first multiple
switchboard, the fundamental features of which are in the switchboards
of to-day. In his work with the switchboards young Carty early got
in touch with Charles E. Scribner, another youngster who was doing
notable work in this field. The young men became fast friends and
worked much together. Scribner devoted himself almost exclusively
to switchboards and came to be known as the father of the modern
Boston had her peculiar problems and an "express" service was needed.
How to handle this in the exchange was another problem, and this, too,
Carty solved. For this purpose he designed and installed the first
metallic circuit, multiple switchboard to go into service. The
problems of the exchange were among the most serious of the many which
troubled the early telephone companies. Of course every telephone-user
desired to be able to converse with any other who had a telephone in
his office or residence. The development of the switchboards had been
comparatively slow in the past, and the service rendered by the boys
proved far from satisfactory. The average boy proved himself
too little amenable to discipline, too inclined to "sass" the
telephone-users, and too careless. But the early use of "hello boys"
was at least a success for the telephone in that it brought to
its service John J. Carty. This boy pointed the way to the great
improvements that made it possible to handle the constantly growing
volume of calls expeditiously and effectively.
The early telephones were operated with a single wire grounded at
either end, the earth return being used to complete the circuit
as with the telegraph. But while the currents used to operate the
telegraph are fairly strong and so can dominate the earth currents,
the tiny currents which represented the vibrations of the human voice
were all too often drowned by the earth currents which strayed on to
the lines. Telephone engineers were not then agreed that this caused
the difficulty; but they did know there was difficulty. Many weird
noises played over the lines and as often as not the spoken word was
twisted into the strangest gibberish and rendered unintelligible. If
the telephone was to satisfy its patrons and prove of real service
to the world, the difficulty had to be overcome. Some of the more
progressive engineers insisted that a double-wire system without a
ground was necessary. This, of course, involved tremendous expenses
in rebuilding every line and duplicating every wire. The more
conservative hesitated, but Carty forged ahead.
In 1880 he was engaged in operating a new line out of Boston. He was
convinced that the double-wire system alone could be successful, and
he arranged to operate a line on this plan. Taking two single lines,
he instructed the operator at the other end to join them, forming a
two-wire circuit. The results justified him. At last a line had been
attained which could be depended upon to carry the conversation.
No sooner was one problem solved than another presented itself. What
to do with the constantly increasing number of wires was a pressing
difficulty. All telephone circuits had been strung overhead, and with
the demand for telephones for office and residence rapidly increasing,
the streets of the great cities were becoming a perfect forest of
telephone poles, with the sky obscured by a maze of wires. Poles were
constantly increased in height until a line was strung along Wall
Street in New York City at a height of ninety feet. From the poles the
wires overflowed to the housetops, increasing the difficulty of the
engineers. How to protect the wires so that they could be placed
underground was the problem.
We have noticed that Theodore Vail had been brought to the head of
the Bell system in its infancy and had led the fight against the rival
companies until it was thoroughly established. Now he was directing
his genius and executive ability to so improving the telephone that
it should serve every need of communication. While the engineers
discussed theories Vail began actual tests. A trench five miles long
was dug beside a railway track by the simple expedient of hitching a
plow to a locomotive. In this trench were laid a number of wires, each
with a different covering. The gutta-percha and the rubber coverings
which had been used in cable construction predominated. It was found
that these wires would carry the telephone currents, not as well as
might be desired, but well enough to assure Vail that he was on the
right track. The companies began to place their wires underground, and
Vail saw to it that the experiments with coverings for telephone wires
were continued. The result was the successful underground cables in
At the same time Vail and his engineers were seeking to improve the
wires themselves. Iron and steel wires had been used, but they proved
unsatisfactory, as they rusted and were poor conductors. Copper was
an excellent conductor, but the metal in the pure state is soft and
no one then knew how to make a copper wire that would sustain its own
weight. But Vail kept his men at the problem and the hard-drawn copper
wire was at length evolved. This proved just what was needed for the
telephone circuits. The copper wire was four times as expensive as the
iron, but as it was four times as good Vail adopted it.
John Carty had rather more than kept pace with these improvements. He
was but twenty-six years of age when Union N. Bethell, head of the New
York company, picked Carty to take charge of the telephone engineering
work in the metropolis. Bethell was Vail's chief executive officer,
and under him Carty received an invaluable training in executive work.
Carty's largest task was putting the wires underground, and here again
he was a tremendous success. He found ways to make cables cheaper
and better, and devised means of laying them at half the former cost.
Having solved the most pressing problems in this field, his employers,
who had come to recognize his marked genius, set him to work again on
the switchboard. He was placed in charge of the switchboard department
of the Western Electric Company, the concern which manufactures the
apparatus for the telephone company. The switchboard, as we have
seen, was Carty's first love, and again he pointed the way to great
improvements. Most of the large switchboards of that time were
installed under his direction, and they were better switchboards than
had ever been known before.
Up to this time it had been thought necessary to have individual
batteries supplying current to each line. These were a constant source
of difficulty, and Carty directed his own attention, and that of his
associate engineers, to finding a satisfactory solution. He sought a
method of utilizing one common battery at the central station and the
way was found and the improvement accomplished.
Though the telephone circuits were now protected from the earth,
telephone-users, at times when the lines were busy, were still
troubled with roarings and strange cross-talk. Though busy with the
many engineering problems which the telephone heads had assigned to
him, Carty found time for some original research. He showed that the
roarings in the wires were largely caused by electro-static induction.
In 1889 he read a paper before the Electric Club that startled the
engineers of that day. He demonstrated that in every telephone circuit
there is a particular point at which, if a telephone is inserted, no
cross-talk can be heard. He had worked out the rules for determining
this point. Thus he had at once discovered the trouble and prescribed
the cure. Of course it could not be expected that the sage experts
would all agree with young Carty right away; but they were forced to
in the end, for again he was proved right.
By 1901 Carty was ready with another invention which was to place the
telephone in the homes of hundreds of thousands who, without it, could
scarcely have afforded this modern necessity. This was the "bridging
bell" which made possible the party line. By its use four telephones
could be placed on a single line, each with its own signal, so that
any one could be rung without ringing the others. Its introduction
inaugurated a new boom in the use of the telephone.
Theodore Vail had resigned from his positions with the telephone
companies in 1890 with the determination to retire from business. But
when the panic of 1907 came the directors of the company went to him
on his Vermont farm and pleaded with him to return and again resume
the leadership. Other and younger men would not do in this business
crisis. They also pointed out that the nation's telephones had not
yet been molded into the national system which had been his dream--a
system of universal service in which any one at any point in the
country might talk by telephone with any other. So Vail re-entered
the telephone field and again took the presidency of the American
Telephone and Telegraph Company.
One of his first official acts was to appoint John J. Carty his chief
engineer. Vail had selected the right man to make his dreams come
true; Carty now had the executive who would make it possible for
him to accomplish even larger things. He set about building up the
engineering organization which was to accomplish the work, selecting
the most brilliant graduates of American technical schools. He set
this organization to work upon the extension and development of the
long-distance telephone lines.
As a "hello boy" Carty had believed in the possibility of the
long-distance telephone when others had scoffed. He has told of an
early experience while in the Boston exchange:
One hot day an old lady toiled up the inevitable flights of
stairs which led to the telephone-office of those times.
Out of breath, she sat down, and when she had recovered
sufficiently to speak she said she wanted to talk to Chicago.
My colleagues of that time were all what the ethnologists
would rank a little bit lower than the wild Indian. These
youngsters set up a great laugh; and, indeed, the absurdity of
the old lady's project could hardly be overstated, because
at that time Salem was a long-distance line, Lowell sometimes
worked, and Worcester was the limit--that is, in every sense
of the word. The Lowell line was so unreliable that we had a
telegraph operator there, and when the talk was not possible,
he pushed the message through by Morse. It is no wonder that
the absurdity of the old lady's proposal was the cause
of poorly suppressed merriment. But I can remember that I
explained to her that our wires had not yet been extended to
Chicago, and that, after she had departed, I turned to the
other operators and said that the day would come when we could
talk to Chicago. My prophecy was received with what might
be called--putting it mildly--vociferous discourtesy.
Nevertheless, I remember very well the impression which that
old lady's request made upon me; and I really did believe
that, some day or other, in some way, we would be able to talk
By 1912 it was possible to talk from New York to Denver, a distance of
2,100 miles. No European engineers had achieved any such results, and
this feat brought to Carty and his wonderful staff the admiration
of foreign experts. But for the American engineers this was only a
The next step was to link New York and California. This was more than
a matter of setting poles and stringing wires, stupendous though this
task was. The line crosses thirteen States, and is carried on 130,000
poles. Three thousand tons of wire are used in the line. The Panama
Canal took nine years to complete, and cost over three hundred million
dollars; but within that time the telephone company spent twice that
amount in engineering construction work alone, extending the scope of
The technical problems were even more difficult. Carty and his
engineers had to find a way to send something three thousand
miles with the breath as its motive power. It was a problem of the
conservation of the tiny electric current which carried the speech.
The power could not be augmented or speech would not result at the
Added to the efforts of these able engineers was the work of Prof.
Michael I. Pupin, of Columbia University, whose brilliant invention
of the loading coil some ten years before had startled the scientific
world and had increased the range of telephonic transmission through
underground cables and through overhead wires far beyond what
had formerly been possible. Professor Pupin applied his masterful
knowledge of physics and his profound mathematical attainments
so successfully to the practical problems of the transmission of
telephone speech that he has been called "the telephone scientist."
It is impossible to talk over long-distance lines anywhere in America
without speaking through Pupin coils, which are distributed throughout
the hundreds of thousands of miles of wire covering the North American
continent. In the transcontinental telephone line Pupin coils play a
most important part, and they are distributed at eight-mile intervals
throughout its entire length from the Atlantic to the Pacific. In
speaking at a dinner of eminent scientists, Mr. Carty once said that
on account of his distinguished scientific attainments and wonderful
telephonic inventions, Professor Pupin would rank in history alongside
of Bell himself.
We have seen how Alexander Graham Bell, standing in the little room in
Boston, spoke through the crude telephone he had constructed the first
words ever carried over a wire, and how these words were heard and
understood by his associate, Thomas Watson. This was in 1876, and it
was in January of 1915--less than forty years later--that these
two men talked across the continent. The transcontinental line was
complete. Bell in the offices of the company in New York talked freely
with Watson in San Francisco, and all in the most conversational
tone, without a trace of the difficulty that had attended their first
conversation over the short line. Thus, within the span of a single
life the telephone had been developed from a crude instrument which
transmitted speech with difficulty over a wire a hundred feet long,
until one could be heard perfectly, though over three thousand miles
of wire intervened.
The spoken word travels across the continent almost instantaneously,
far faster than the speed of sound. If it were possible for one to be
heard in San Francisco as he shouted from New York through the air,
four hours would be required before the sound would arrive. Thus the
telephone has been brought to a point of perfection where it carries
sound by electricity and reproduces it again far more rapidly and
efficiently than sound can be transmitted through its natural medium.
TELEPHONING THROUGH SPACE
The Search for the Wireless Telephone--Early Successes--Carty and
His Assistants Seek the Wireless Telephone--The Task Before Them--De
Forest's Amplifier--Experimental Success Achieved--The
Test--Honolulu and Paris Hear Arlington--The Future.
No sooner had Marconi placed the wireless telegraph at the service of
the world than men of science of all nations began the search for
the wireless telephone. But the vibrations necessary to reproduce the
sound of the human voice are so infinitely more complex than those
which will suffice to carry signals representing the dots and
dashes of the telegraph code that the problem long defied solution.
Scientists attacked the problem with vigor, and various means of
wireless telephony were developed, without any being produced which
were effective over sufficient ranges to make them really useful.
Probably the earliest medium chosen to carry wireless speech was light
rays. A microphone transmitter was arranged so that the vibrations
of the voice would affect the stream of gas flowing in a sensitive
burner. The flame was thus thrown into vibrations corresponding to the
vibrations of sound. The rays from this flame were then directed by
mirrors to a distant receiving station and there concentrated on
a photo-electric selenium cell, which has the strange property of
varying its resistance according to the illumination. Thus a telephone
receiver arranged in series with it was made to reproduce the sounds.
This strange, wireless telephone was so arranged that a search-light
beam could be used for the light path, and distances up to three miles
were covered. Even with this limited range the search-light telephone
had certain advantages. Its message could be received only by those in
the direct line of the light. Neither did it require aerial masts
or wires and a trained telegrapher who could send and receive the
telegraph code. It was put to some use between battle-ships and
smaller craft lying within a radius of a few miles. The sensitive
selenium cell proved unreliable, however, and this means of
communication was destined to failure.
The experimenters realized that future success lay in making the ether
carry telephonic currents as it carried telegraphic currents. They
succeeded in establishing communication without wires, using the same
antenna as in wireless telegraphy, and the principles determined are
those used in the wireless telephone of to-day. The sending apparatus
was so arranged that continuous oscillations are set up in the ether,
either by a high-frequency machine or from an electric arc. Where
set up by spark discharges the spark frequency must be above twenty
thousand per second. This unbroken wave train does not affect the
telephone and is not audible in a telephone receiver inserted in the
radio receiving circuit. But when a microphone transmitter is inserted
in the sending circuit, instead of the make-and-break key used for
telegraphy, the waves of the voice, thrown against the transmitter
in speaking, break up the waves so that the telephone receiver in the
receiving circuit will reproduce sound. Here was and is the wireless
telephone. Marconi and many other scientists were able to operate
it successfully over comparatively short distances, and were busily
engaged in extending its range and improving the apparatus. One
great difficulty involved was in increasing the power of the sending
apparatus. Greater range has been secured in wireless telegraphy by
using stronger sending currents. But the delicate microphone would
not carry these stronger currents. Increased sensitiveness in the
receiving apparatus was also necessary.
Not content with their accomplishments in increasing the scope of the
wire telephone, the engineers of the Bell organization, headed by
John J. Carty, turned their attention to the wireless transmission
of speech. Determined that the existing telephone system should be
extended and supplemented in every useful way, they attacked the
problem with vigor. It was a problem that had long baffled the keenest
of European scientists, including Marconi himself, but that did not
deter Carty and his associates. They were determined that the glory of
spanning the Atlantic by wireless telephone should come to America
and American engineers. They wanted history to record the wireless
telephone as an American achievement along with the telegraph and the
The methods used in achieving the wireless telephone were widely
different from those which brought forth the telegraph and the
telephone. Times had changed. Men had found that it was more effective
to work together through organizations than to struggle along as
individuals. The very physical scope of the undertakings made the old
methods impracticable. One cannot perfect a transcontinental telephone
line nor a transatlantic wireless telephone in a garret. And with a
powerful organization behind them it was not necessary for Carty
and his associates to starve and skimp through interminable years,
handicapped by the inadequate equipment, while they slowly achieved
results. This great organization, working with modern methods,
produced the most wonderful results with startling rapidity.
Important work had already been done by Marconi, Fessenden, De Forest,
and others. But their results were still incomplete; they could not
talk for any considerable distance. Carty organized his staff with
care, Bancroft Gerhardi, Doctor Jewett, H.D. Arnold, and Colpitts
being prominent among the group of brilliant American scientists
who joined with Carty in his great undertaking. While much had
been accomplished, much still remained to be done, and the various
contributions had to be co-ordinated into a unified, workable whole.
In large part it was Carty's task to direct the work of this staff and
to see that all moved smoothly and in the right direction. Just as
the telephone was more complex than the telegraph, and the wireless
telegraph than the telephone, so the apparatus used in wireless
telephony is even more complex and technical. Working with the
intricate mechanisms and delicate apparatus, one part after another
was improved and adapted to the task at hand.
To the devices of Carty and his associates was added the extremely
delicate detector that was needed. This was the invention of Dr.
Lee de Forest, an American inventor and a graduate of the Sheffield
Technical School of Yale University. De Forest's contribution was
a lamp instrument, a three-step audion amplifier. This is to the
wireless telephone what the coherer is to the wireless telegraph. It
is so delicate that the faintest currents coming through the ether
will stimulate it and serve to set in motion local sources of
electrical energy so that the waves received are magnified to a point
where they will produce sound.
By the spring of 1915, but a few months after the transcontinental
telephone line had been put in operation, Carty had his wireless
telephone apparatus ready for extended tests. A small experimental
tower was set up at Montauk Point, Long Island, and another was
borrowed at Wilmington, Delaware. The tests were successful, and the
experimenters found that they could talk freely with each other. Soon
they talked over a thousand miles, from the tower at Montauk Point
to another at St. Simon's Island, Georgia. This in itself was a great
achievement, but the world was not told of it. "Do it first and then
talk about it" is the maxim with Theodore Vail and his telephone men.
This was but a beginning, and Carty had far more wonderful things in
It was on the 29th of September, 1915, that Carty conducted the
demonstrations which thrilled the world and showed that wireless
telephony was an accomplished fact. Sitting in his office in New York,
President Theodore Vail spoke into his desk telephone of the familiar
type. The wires carried his words to the towers of the Navy wireless
station at Arlington, Virginia, where they were delivered to the
sending apparatus of the wireless telephone. Leaping into space, they
traveled in every direction through the ether. The antenna of the
wireless station at Mare Island, California, caught part of the waves
and they were amplified so that John Carty, sitting with his ear
to the receiver, could hear the voice of his chief. Carty and his
associates had not only developed a system which made it possible to
talk across the continent without wires, but they had made it possible
to combine wire and wireless telegraphy. He and Vail talked with each
other freely and easily, while the naval officers who verified the
But even more wonderful things were to come. Early in the morning of
the next day other messages were sent from the Arlington tower,
and these messages were heard by Lloyd Espenschied, one of Carty's
engineers, who was stationed at the wireless station at Pearl Harbor,
near Honolulu, Hawaii. The distance covered was nearly five thousand
miles, and half of it was across land, which is the more remarkable as
the wireless does not operate so readily over land as over water.
The distance covered in this test was greater than the distance
from Washington to London, Paris, Berlin, Vienna, or Petrograd. The
successful completion of this test meant that the capitals of the
great nations of the world might communicate, might talk with
one another, by wireless telephone. Only a receiving set had been
installed at Hawaii, so that it was not possible for Espenschied to
reply to the message from Arlington, and it was not until his message
came by cable that those at Arlington knew that the words they had
spoken had traveled five thousand miles. Other receiving sets had been
located at San Diego and at Darien on the Isthmus of Panama, and at
these points also the words were distinctly heard.
By the latter part of October all was in readiness for a transatlantic
test, and on the 20th of October American engineers, with American
apparatus installed at the great French station at the Eiffel Tower,
Paris, heard the words spoken at Arlington, Virginia. Carty and his
engineers had bridged the Atlantic for the spoken word. Because of
war-time conditions it was not possible to secure the use of the
French station for an extended test, but the fact was established that
once the apparatus is in place telephonic communication between Europe
and America may he carried on regularly.
The apparatus used as developed by the engineers of the Bell system
was in a measure an outgrowth of their work with the long-distance
telephone. Wireless telephony, despite the wonders it has already
accomplished, is still in its infancy. With more perfect apparatus
and the knowledge that comes with experience we may expect that speech
will girdle the earth.
It is natural that one should wonder whether the wireless telephone is
destined to displace our present apparatus. This does not seem at all
probable. In the first place, wireless telephony is now, and probably
always will be, very expensive. Where the wire will do it is the more
economical. There are many limitations to the use of the other for
talking purposes, and it cannot be drawn upon too strongly by the man
of science. It will accomplish miracles, but must not be overtaxed.
Millions of messages going in all directions, crossing and
recrossing one another, as is done every day by wire, are probably
an impossibility by wireless telephony. Weird and little-understood
conditions of the ether, static electricity, radio disturbances, make
wireless work uncertain, and such a thing as twenty-four-hour service,
seven days in the week, can probably never be guaranteed. In radio
communication all must use a common medium, and as its use increases,
so also do the difficulties. The privacy of the wire is also lacking
with the wireless telephone.
But because a way was found to couple the wireless telephone with the
wire telephone, the new wonder has great possibilities as a supplement
to our existing system. Before so very long it may be possible for an
American business man sitting in his office to call up and converse
with a friend on a liner crossing the Atlantic. The advantages
of speaking between ship and ship as an improvement over wireless
telegraphy in time of need are obvious. A demonstration of the part
this great national telephone system would play in the country's
defense in case of attack was held in May of 1916. The Navy Department
at Washington was placed in communication with every navy-yard and
post in the United States, so that the executive officers could
instantly talk with those in charge of the posts throughout the
country. The wireless telephone was used in addition to the long
distance, and Secretary of the Navy Daniels, sitting at his desk at
Washington, talked with Captain Chandler, who was at his station on
the bridge of the U.S.S. _New Hampshire_ at Hampton Roads.
Whatever the future limitations of wireless telephony, there is
no doubt as to the place it will take among the scientific
accomplishments of the age. Merely as a scientific discovery or
invention, it ranks among the wonders of civilization. Much as the
tremendous leap of human voice across the line from New York to San
Francisco appealed to the mind, there is something infinitely more
fascinating in this new triumph of the engineer. The human mind can
grasp the idea of the spoken word being carried along wires, though
that is difficult enough, but when we try to understand its flight
through space we are faced with something beyond the comprehension of
the layman and almost past belief.
We have seen how communication has developed, very slowly at first,
and then, as electricity was discovered, with great rapidity until man
may converse with man at a distance of five thousand miles. What
the future will bring forth we do not know. The ether may be made to
accomplish even more wonderful things as a bearer of intelligence.
Though we cannot now see how it would be possible, the day may come
when every automobile and aeroplane will be equipped with its wireless
telephone, and the motorist and aviator, wherever they go, may
talk with anyone anywhere. The transmission of power by wireless is
confidently predicted. Pictures have been transmitted by telegraph. It
may be possible to transmit them by wireless. Then some one may find
out how to transmit moving pictures through the ether. Then one might
sit and see before him on a screen a representation of what was then
happening thousands of miles away, and, listening through a telephone,
hear all the sounds at the same place. Wonders that we cannot even now
imagine may lie before us.
NEW DEVELOPMENTS OF THE TELEGRAPH
_By F.W. Lienan, Superintendent Tariff Bureau, Western Union Telegraph
The invention of Samuel F.B. Morse is unique in this, that the methods
and instruments of telegraph operation as he evolved them from his
first experimental apparatus were so simple, and yet so completely met
the requirements, that they have continued in use to the present day
in practically their original form. But this does not mean that there
has not been the same constant striving for betterment in this as in
every other art. Many minds have, since the birth of the telegraph,
occupied themselves with the problem of devising improved means of
telegraphic transmission. The results have varied according to the
point of view from which the subject was approached, but all, directly
or indirectly, sought the same goal (the obvious one, since speed is
the essence of telegraphy), to find the best means of sending more
messages over the wire in a given time. It will readily suggest
itself that the solution of this problem lies either in an arrangement
enabling the wire to carry more than one message at once, or in some
apparatus capable of transmitting messages over the wire more
rapidly than can be done by hand, or in a combination of both these
Duplex and quadruples operations are perhaps the most generally known
methods by which increased utilization of the capacity of the line has
been achieved. Duplex operation permits of the sending of two messages
over one wire in opposite directions at the same time; and quadruples,
the simultaneous transmission of four messages, two going in each
direction. Truly a remarkable accomplishment; but, like many other
things that have found their permanent place in daily use, become so
familiar that we no longer pause to marvel at it. These expedients
constitute a direct and very effective attack on the problem how to
get more work out of the wire with the existing means of operation,
and on account of their fundamental character and the important place
which by reason thereof they have taken in the telegraphic art, are
entitled to first mention.
The problem of increasing the rapidity of transmission has been met by
various automatic systems of telegraphy, so called because they embody
the idea of mechanical transmission with resulting gain in speed and
other advantages. The number of these which have from time to time
been devised is considerable. Not all have proven to be practicable,
but those which have failed to prove in under actual operating
conditions none the less display evidence of ingenuity which may well
excite our admiration.
To mention one or two which may be interesting on account of the
oddity of their method--there was, for instance, an early device,
similar in principle to the calling apparatus of the automatic
telephone, which involved the turning of a movable disk so that a
projection on its circumference pointed successively to the letters to
be transmitted. Experiments were made with ordinary metal type set up
in a composing-stick, a series of brushes passing over the type faces
and producing similar characters on a tape at the other end of the
line. In another more recent ingenious device a pivoted mirror at the
receiving end was so manipulated by the electrical impulses that a ray
of light reflected from the surface of the mirror actually wrote the
message upon sensitized paper, like a pencil, in a fair handwriting.
In another the receiving apparatus printed vertical, horizontal, and
slanting lines in such manner that they combined to make letters,
rather angular, it is true, but legible.
These and other kindred devices are interesting as efforts to
accomplish the direct production of legible messages. In experimental
tests they performed their function successfully, and in some cases
with considerable speed, but some of them required more than one line
wire, some were too sensitive to disturbance by inductive currents
and some developed other weaknesses which have prevented their
incorporation in the actual operating machinery of to-day.
In the general development of the so-called automatic telegraph
devices which have been or now are in practical operation, two lines
have been pursued. One involves direct keyboard transmission; the
other, the use at the sending end of a perforated tape capable of
being run through a transmitting machine at high speed. One type of
the former is the so-called step-by-step process, in which a revolving
body in the transmitting apparatus, as, for instance, a cylinder
provided with pegs placed at intervals around its circumference in
spiral fashion, is arrested by the depression of the keys of the
keyboard in such a way that a type wheel in the receiving apparatus
at the distant end of the line prints the corresponding letter.
This method was employed in the House and Phelps printing telegraphs
operated by the Western Union Telegraph Company in its earlier days,
and is to-day used in the operation of the familiar ticker. In
another type of direct keyboard operation the manipulation of the
keys transmits the impulses directly to the line and the receiving
apparatus translates them by electrically controlled mechanical
devices into printed characters in message form.
The systems best adapted to rapid telegraph work are predicated on the
use of a perforated tape on which, by means of a suitable perforating
apparatus, little round holes are produced in various groupings, each
group, when the tape is passed through the transmitter, causing a
certain combination of electrical impulses to pass over the wire.
The transmitter as a rule consists of a mechanically or motor driven
mechanism which causes the telegraph impulses to be transmitted to the
line, and the combination and character of the impulses are determined
by the tape perforations. The rapidity with which the tape may
be driven through the transmitter makes very high speed operation
possible. Of course it is necessary that there should be at the other
end of the wire apparatus capable of receiving and recording the
signals as speedily as they are sent.
As early as 1848 Alexander Bain perfected a system involving the use
of the perforated transmitting tape; at the receiving station the
messages were recorded in dots and dashes upon a chemically prepared
strip of paper by means of iron pens, the metal of which was, through
the combined action of the electrical current and the chemical
preparation, decomposed, producing black marks in the form of dots and
dashes upon the paper. The Bain apparatus was in actual operation in
the younger days of the telegraph. Various systems, based on similar
principles, involving tape transmission and the production of dots and
dashes on a receiving tape, have from time to time been devised, but
have generally not succeeded in establishing any permanent usefulness
in competition with more effective instrumentalities which have been
The hardiest survivor of them is the Wheatstone apparatus, which
has been in successful operation for years. Originally the
perforating--or, to use the commonly current term, the punching--of
the Wheatstone sending tape was accomplished by a mechanism equipped
with three keys--one for the dot, one for the dash, and one for the
space. The keys were struck with rubber-tipped mallets held in the
hands of the operator and brought down with considerable force. Later
this rather primitive perforator was supplanted by one equipped with a
full keyboard on the order of a typewriter keyboard. At the receiving
end of the line the messages are produced on a tape in dots and dashes
of the Morse alphabet, and hence a further process of translation is
necessary. This system has proven very useful, particularly in times
of wire trouble and scarcity of facilities, when it is essential to
move as many messages as possible over the available lines.
The schemes devised for combining automatic transmission by the
perforated-tape method with direct production of the message at
its destination in ordinary letters and figures, eliminating the
intervening step of translation from Morse characters, have been
many. Their individual enumeration is beyond the scope of the present
discussion, and would in any event involve a wearisome exposition of
their distinguishing technical features. Several of these systems are
at present in practical and very effective operation.
One of the forerunners of the printing telegraph systems now in use
was the Buckingham system, for many years employed by the Western
Union Telegraph Company, but now for some time obsolete. The receiving
mechanism of this system printed the messages on telegraph blanks
placed upon a cylinder of just the right circumference to accommodate
two telegraph blanks. The blanks were arranged in pairs, rolled into
the form of a tube and placed around the cylinder. When two messages
had been written a new pair of blanks had to be substituted. This was
a rather awkward arrangement, but at a time when more highly developed
apparatus had not been perfected it served its purpose to good
The printing telegraphs of to-day produce their messages by the
direct operation of typewriting machines or mechanisms operating
substantially in the same manner as the ordinary typewriting machine.
The methods by which the electrical impulses coming over the line are
transformed into mechanical operation of the typewriter keys, or what
corresponds to the typewriter keys, vary. It would be difficult to
describe how this function is performed without entering upon much
detail of a highly technical character. Suffice it to say that means
have been devised by which each combination of electrical impulses
coming over the line wire causes a channel to be opened for the motor
operation of the typewriting key-bar operating the corresponding
letter upon the typewriter apparatus. These machines write the
messages with proper arrangement of the date line, address, text, and
signature, operating not only the type, but also the carriage shift
and the line spacing as required. A further step in advance has
been made by feeding the blanks into the receiving typewriter from
a continuous roll, an attendant tearing the messages off as they are
completed. The entire operation is automatic from beginning to end and
capable of considerable speed.
There remained the problem of devising some means by which a number of
automatic units could be operated over the same line at the same
time. This is not by any means a new proposition. Here again various
solutions have been offered by the scientists both of Europe and of
this country, and different systems designed to accomplish the desired
object have been placed in operation. One of the most recent, and
we believe the most efficient so far developed, is the so-called
multiplex printer system, devised by the engineers of the Western
Union Telegraph Company and now being extensively used by that
company. Perhaps the best picture of what is accomplished by this
system can be given by an illustration. Let us assume a single wire
between New York and Chicago. At the New York end there are connected
with this wire four combined perforators and transmitters, and four
receiving machines operating on the typewriter principle. At the
Chicago end the wire is connected with a like number of sending and
receiving machines. All these machines are in simultaneous operation;
that is to say, four messages are being sent from New York to Chicago,
and four messages are being sent from Chicago to New York, all at the
same time and over a single wire, and the entire process is automatic.
The method by which eight messages can be sent over a single wire at
the same time without interfering with one another cannot readily
be described in simple terms. It may give some comprehension of the
underlying principle to say that the heart of the mechanism is in
two disks at each end of the line, which are divided into groups of
segments insulated from each other, each group being connected to one
of the sending or receiving machines, respectively. A rotating contact
brush connected to the line wire passes over the disk, so that, as it
comes into contact with each segment, the line wire is connected in
turn with the channel leading to the corresponding operating unit. The
brushes revolve in absolute unison of time and position. To use the
same illustration as before, the brush on the Chicago disk and the
brush on the New York disk not only move at exactly the same speed,
but at any given moment the two brushes are in exactly the same
position with regard to the respective group of segments of both
disks. If we now conceive of these brushes passing over the successive
segments of the disks at a very great rate of speed, it may be
understood that the effect is that the electrical impulses are
distributed, each receiving machine receiving only those produced by
the corresponding sending machine at the other end. In other words,
each of the sets of receiving and sending apparatus really gets the
use of the line for a fraction of the time during each revolution
of the brushes of the distributer or disk mechanism. The multiplex
automatic circuits are being extended all over the country and are
proving extremely valuable in handling the constantly growing volume
of telegraph traffic.
What has thus been achieved in developing the technical side of
telegraph operation must be attributed in part to that impulse toward
improvement which is constantly at work everywhere and is the most
potent factor in the progress of all industries, but in large
measure it is the reflex of the growing--and recently very rapidly
growing--demands which are made upon the telegraph service. Emphasis
is placed on the larger ratio of growth in this demand in recent years
because it is peculiarly symptomatic of a noticeably wider realization
of the advantages which the telegraph offers as an effective medium
for business and social correspondence than has heretofore been in
evidence. It means that we have graduated from that state of mind
which saw in the telegraph something to be resorted to only under
the stress of emergency, which caused many good people to associate
a telegram with trouble and bad news and sudden calamity. There are
still some dear old ladies who, on receipt of a telegram, make a rapid
mental survey of the entire roster of their near and distant relatives
and wonder whose death or illness the message may announce before they
open the fateful envelope, only to find that up-to-date Cousin Mary,
who has learned that the telegraph is as readily used as the mail and
many times more rapid and efficient, wants to know whether they can
come out for the week-end. When Cousin Mary of to-day wants to know,
she wants to know right away--not only that she has her arrangements
to make, but also because she just does not propose to wait a day or
two to get a simple answer to a simple question.
Therein she embodies the spirit of the times. Our ancestors were
content to jog along for days in a stuffy stage-coach; we complain
that the train which accomplishes the same distance in a few hours is
too slow. We act more quickly; we think more quickly. We have to if we
want to keep within earshot of the band.
This speeding up makes itself quite obviously most apparent in our
business processes. No body of business men need be told how much
keener competition is becoming daily, how much narrower the margin by
which success must be won. Familiar phrases, these. But behind them
lies a wealth of tragedy. How many have fallen by the way? It is
estimated that something less than ten per cent. of those who engage
in business on their own account succeed. How terrible the percentage
of those who fail! The race has become too swift for them. Driven
by the lash of competition, business must perforce move faster and
faster. Time is becoming ever more precious. Negotiations must be
rapidly conducted, decisions arrived at quickly, transactions closed
on the moment. What wonder that all this makes for a vastly increased
use of the quickest method of communication?
That is but one of the conditions which accounts for the growing use
of the telegraph. Another is to be found in the recognition of the
convenience of the night letter and day letter. This has brought
about a considerable increase in the volume of family and social
correspondence by telegraph, which will grow to very much greater
proportions as experience demonstrates its value. In business life the
night letter and day letter have likewise established a distinct place
for themselves. Here also the present development of this traffic can
be regarded as only rudimentary in comparison with the possibilities
of its future development, indications of which are already apparent.
It has been discovered that the telegram, on account of its peculiar
attention-compelling quality, is an effective medium not only for
the individual appeal, but for placing business propositions before
a number of people at once, the night letters and day letters being
particularly adapted to this purpose by reason of the greater scope of
expression which they offer.
Again, business men are developing the habit of using the telegram
in keeping in touch with their field forces and their salesmen and
encouraging their activities, in cultivating closer contact with their
customers, in placing their orders, in replenishing their stocks,
and in any number of other ways calculated to further the profitable
conduct of their enterprises.
All this means that the telegraph is increasingly being utilized as a
means of correspondence of every conceivable sort. It means also that
with the growing appreciation of its adaptability to the every-day
needs of social and business communication a very much larger public
demand upon it must be anticipated, and it is to meet this demand with
prompt and satisfactory service that the telegraph company has
been bending its efforts to the perfection of a highly developed
organization and of operating appliances of the most modern and
Through the courtesy of J.J. Carty, Esq., Chief Engineer of the
American Telephone and Telegraph Company, there follows the clean-cut
survey of the evolution of the telephone presented in his address
before the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, May 17, 1916, when he
received the gold medal of the Institute.
More than any other, the telephone art is a product of American
institutions and reflects the genius of our people. The story of its
wonderful development is a story of our own country. It is a story
exclusively of American enterprise and American progress, for,
although the most powerful governments of Europe have devoted their
energies to the development and operation of telephone systems, great
contributions to the art have not been made by any of them. With very
few exceptions, the best that is used in telephony everywhere in the
world to-day has been contributed by workers here in America.
It is of peculiar interest to recall the fact that the first words
ever transmitted by the electric telephone were spoken in a building
at Boston, not far from where Benjamin Franklin first saw the light.
The telephone, as well as Franklin, was born at Boston, and, like
Franklin, its first journey into the world brought it to Philadelphia,
where it was exhibited by its inventor, Alexander Graham Bell, at
the Centennial Exhibition in 1876, held here to commemorate the first
hundred years of our existence as a free and independent nation.
It was a fitting contribution to American progress, representing the
highest product of American inventive genius, and a worthy continuance
of the labors of Franklin, one of the founders of the science of
electricity as well as of the Republic.
Nothing could appeal more to the genius of Franklin than the
telephone, for not only have his countrymen built upon it an
electrical system of communication of transcendent magnitude and
usefulness, but they have made it into a powerful agency for the
advancement of civilization, eliminating barriers to speech, binding
together our people into one nation, and now reaching out to the
uttermost limits of the earth, with the grand aim of some day bringing
together the people of all the nations of the earth into one common
On the tenth day of March, 1876, the telephone art was born, when,
over a wire extending between two rooms on the top floor of a building
in Boston, Alexander Graham Bell spoke to his associate, Thomas A.
Watson, saying: "Mr. Watson, please come here. I want you." These
words, then heard by Mr. Watson in the instrument at his ear,
constitute the first sentence ever received by the electric telephone.
The instrument into which Doctor Bell spoke was a crude apparatus, and
the current which it generated was so feeble that, although the line
was about a hundred feet in length, the voice heard in the receiver
was so faint as to be audible only to such a trained and sensitive ear
as that of the young Mr. Watson, and then only when all surrounding
noises were excluded.
Following the instructions given by Doctor Bell, Mr. Watson with his
own hands had constructed the first telephone instruments and ran the
first telephone wire. At that time all the knowledge of the telephone
art was possessed exclusively by those two men. There was no
experience to guide and no tradition to follow. The founders of the
telephone, with remarkable foresight, recognized that success depended
upon the highest scientific knowledge and technical skill, and at once
organized an experimental and research department. They also sought
the aid of university professors eminent for their scientific
attainments, although at that time there was no university giving the
degree of Electrical Engineer or teaching electrical engineering.
From this small beginning there has been developed the present
engineering, experimental and research department which is under my
charge. From only two men in 1876 this staff has, in 1915, grown
to more than six hundred engineers and scientists, including former
professors, post-graduate students, and scientific investigators,
graduates of nearly a hundred American colleges and universities, thus
emphasizing in a special way the American character of the art. The
above number includes only those devoted to experimental and research
work and engineering development and standardization, and does
not include the very much larger body of engineers engaged in
manufacturing and in practical field work throughout the United
States. Not even the largest and most powerful government telephone
and telegraph administration of Europe has a staff to be compared with
this. It is in our great universities that anything like it is to
be found, but even here we find that it exceeds in number the entire
teaching staff of even our largest technical institutions.
A good idea may spring up in the mind of man anywhere, but as applied
to such a complex entity as a telephone system, the countless parts of
which cover a continent, no individual unaided can bring the idea to
a successful conclusion. A comprehensive and effective engineering and
scientific and development organization such as this is necessary, and
years of expensive work are required before the idea can be rendered
useful to the public.
But, vital as they are to its success, the, telephone art requires
more than engineers and scientists. So we find that in the building
and operation and maintenance of that vast continental telephone
system which bears the name of Bell, in honor of the great inventor,
there are at work each day more than 170,000 employees, of which
nearly 20,000 are engaged in the manufacture of telephones,
switchboards, cables, and all of the thousands and tens of thousands
of parts required for the operation of the telephone system of
The remaining 150,000 are distributed throughout all of the States
of the Union. About 80,000 of these are women, largely telephone
operators; 50,000 are linemen, installers, cable splicers, and the
like, engaged in the building and maintaining of the continental
plant. There are thousands of other employees in the accounting,
legal, commercial and other departments. There are 2,100 engineers
located in different parts of the country. The majority of these
engineers have received technical training in American technical
schools, colleges, and universities. This number does not include
by any means all of those in the other departments who have received
technical or college training.
In view of the technical and scientific nature of the telephone art,
an unusually high-grade personnel is required in all departments, and
the amount of unskilled labor employed is relatively very small.
No other art calls forth in a higher degree those qualities of
initiative, judgment, skill, enterprise, and high character which have
in all times distinguished the great achievements of America.
In 1876 the telephone plant of the whole world could be carried away
in the arms of one man. It consisted of two crude telephones like the
one now before you, connected together by a wire of about one hundred
feet in length. A piece cut from this wire by Mr. Watson himself is
here in this little glass case.
At this time there was no practical telephone transmitter, no
hard-drawn copper wire, no transposed and balanced metallic circuits,
no multiple telephone switchboard, or telephone switchboard of any
kind, no telephone cable that would work satisfactorily; in fact,
there were none of the multitude of parts which now constitute the
The first practical telephone line was a copy of the best telegraph
line of the day. A line wire was strung on the poles and housetops,
using the ground for the return circuit. Electrical disturbances,
coming from no one knows where, were picked up by this line.
Frequently the disturbances were so loud in the telephone as to
destroy conversation. When a second telephone line was strung
alongside the first, even though perfectly insulated, another surprise
awaited the telephone pioneers. Conversation carried on over one of
these wires could plainly be heard on the other. Another strange
thing was discovered. Iron wire was not so good a conductor for the
telephone current as it was for the telegraph current. The talking
distance, therefore, was limited by the imperfect carrying power of
the conductor and by the confusing effect of all sorts of disturbing
currents from the atmosphere and from neighboring telephone and
These and a multitude of other difficulties, constituting problems of
the most intricate nature, impeded the progress of the telephone
art, but American engineers, by persistent study, incessant
experimentation, and the expenditure of immense sums of money, have
overcome these difficulties. They have created a new art, inventing,
developing, and perfecting, making improvements great and small in
telephone, transmitter, line, cable, switchboard, and every other
piece of apparatus and plant required for the transmission of speech.
As the result of nearly forty years of this unceasing, organized
effort, on the 25th of January, 1915, there was dedicated to the
service of the American public a transcontinental telephone line,
3,600 miles long, joining the Atlantic and the Pacific, and carrying
the human voice instantly and distinctly between San Francisco and New
York and Philadelphia and Boston. On that day over this line Doctor
Bell again talked to Mr. Watson, who was now 3,400 miles away. It was
a day of romantic triumph for these two men and for their associates
and their thousands of successors who have built up the great American
The 11th of February following was another day of triumph for the
telephone art as a product of American institutions, for, in the
presence of dignitaries of the city and State here at Philadelphia and
at San Francisco, the sound of the Liberty Bell, which had not been
heard since it tolled for the death of Chief-Justice Marshall,
was transmitted by telephone over the transcontinental line to San
Francisco, where it was plainly heard by all those there assembled.
Immediately after this the stirring tones of the "Star-spangled
Banner" played on the bugle at San Francisco were sent like lightning
back across the continent to salute the old bell in Philadelphia.
It had often been pointed out that the words of the tenth verse of the
twenty-fifth chapter of Leviticus, added when the bell was recast in
1753, were peculiarly applicable to the part played by the old bell in
1776. But the words were still more prophetic. The old bell had been
silent for nearly eighty years, and it was thought forever, but by the
use of the telephone a gentle tap, which could be heard through the
air only a few feet away, was enough to transmit the tones of the
historic relic all the way across the continent from the Atlantic to
the Pacific. Thus, by the aid of the telephone art, the Liberty Bell
was enabled literally to fulfil its destiny and "Proclaim liberty
throughout all the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof."
The two telephone instruments of 1876 had become many millions by
1916, and the first telephone line, a hundred feet long, had grown to
one of more than three thousand miles in length. This line is but part
of the American telephone system of twenty-one million miles of
wire, connecting more than nine million telephone stations located
everywhere throughout the United States, and giving telephone service
to one hundred million people. Universal telephone service throughout
the length and breadth of our land, that grand objective of Theodore
N. Vail, has been attained.
While Alexander Graham Bell was the first to transmit the tones of
the human voice over a wire by electricity, he was also the first to
transmit the tones of the human voice by the wireless telephone,
for in 1880 he spoke along a beam of light to a point a considerable
distance away. While the method then used is different from that now
in vogue, the medium employed for the transmission is the same--the
ether, that mysterious, invisible, imponderable wave-conductor which
permeates all creation.
While many great advances in the wireless art were made by Marconi and
many other scientists in America and elsewhere, it remained for that
distinguished group of American scientists and engineers working under
my charge to be the first to transmit the tones of the human voice in
the form of intelligible speech across the Atlantic Ocean. This great
event and those immediately preceding it are so fresh in the public
mind that I will make but a brief reference to them here.
On April 4, 1915, we were successful in transmitting speech without
the use of wires from our radio station at Montauk Point on Long
Island to Wilmington, Delaware.
On May 18th we talked by radio telephone from our station on Long
Island to St. Simon Island in the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of
On the 27th of August, with our apparatus installed by permission of
the Navy Department at the Arlington, Virginia, radio station, speech
was successfully transmitted from that station to the Navy wireless
station equipped with our receiving apparatus at the Isthmus of
On September 29th, speech was successfully transmitted by wire from
New York City to the radio station at Arlington, Virginia, and thence
by wireless telephone across the continent to the radio station at
Mare Island Navy-yard, California, where I heard and understood the
words of Mr. Theodore N. Vail speaking to me from the telephone on his
desk at New York.
On the next morning at about one o'clock, Washington time, we
established wireless telephone communication between Arlington,
Virginia, and Pearl Harbor in the Hawaiian Islands, where an engineer
of our staff, together with United States naval officers, distinctly
heard words spoken into the telephone at Arlington, Virginia. On
October 22d, from the Arlington tower in Virginia, we successfully
transmitted speech across the Atlantic Ocean to the Eiffel Tower at
Paris, where two of our engineers, in company with French military
officers, heard and understood the words spoken at Arlington.
On the same day when speech was being transmitted by the apparatus at
Arlington to our engineers and to the French military officers at the
Eiffel Tower in Paris, our telephone engineer at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii,
together with an officer of the United States Navy, heard the words
spoken from Arlington to Paris and recognized the voice of the
As a result of exhaustive researches, too extensive to describe here,
it has been ascertained that the function of the wireless telephone
is not to do away with the use of wires, but rather to be employed
in situations where wires are not available or practicable, such as
between ship and ship, and ship and shore, and across large bodies of
water. The ether is a universal conductor for wireless telephone
and telegraph impulses and must be used in common by all who wish to
employ those agencies of communication. In the case of the wireless
telegraph the number of messages which may be sent simultaneously is
much restricted. In the case of the wireless telephone, owing to the
thousands of separate wave-lengths required for the transmission of
speech, the number of telephone conversations which may be carried on
at the same time is still further restricted and is so small that
all who can employ wires will find it necessary to do so, leaving the
ether available for those who have no other means of communication.
This quality of the ether which thus restricts its use is really
a characteristic of the greatest value to mankind, for it forms a
universal party line, so to speak, connecting together all creation,
so that anybody anywhere, who connects with it in the proper manner,
may be heard by every one else so connected. Thus, a sinking ship or a
human being anywhere can send forth a cry for help which may be heard
No one can tell how far away are the limits of the telephone art, I
am certain that they are not to be found here upon the earth, for
I firmly believe in the fulfilment of that prophetic aspiration
expressed by Theodore N. Vail at a great gathering in Washington, that
some day we will build up a world telephone system, making necessary
to all peoples the use of a common language or a common understanding
of languages which will join all of the people of the earth into one
brotherhood. I believe that the time will come when the historic bell
which now rests in Independence Hall will again be sounded, and
that by means of the telephone art, which to-day has received such
distinguished recognition at your hands, it will proclaim liberty
once more, but this time throughout the whole world unto all the
inhabitants thereof. And, when this world is ready for the message, I
believe the telephone art will provide the means for transmitting to
all mankind a great voice saying, "Peace on earth, good will toward
Ampere's telegraph, 42.
Anglo-American Telegraph Co., 134.
Ardois signal system, 30.
Atlantic cable projected, 109;
attempted, 117, 121, 123, 133;
completed, 124, 136.
Audion amplifier, 256.
Automatic telegraphy, 53, 105, 266.
Baltimore-Washington Telegraph Line, 86.
Bell, Alexander Graham, parentage, 140;
teaches elocution, 146;
experiments with speech, 151, 161;
meets Henry, 158;
invents telephone, 162;
at Centennial Exposition, 165;
demonstrates telephone, 170;
Bell Telephone Association, 178;
Bell-Western Union Settlement;
Bell and wireless telegraphy, 189;
Transcontinental telephone, 248.
Bethell, Union N., 241.
Blake, Clarence J., 154.
Blake, Francis, invents telephone transmitter, 182.
Branly coherer, 204.
Brett, J.W., 112.
Bright, Charles Tiltson, 112, 120, 125, 128.
Cable laid across Channel, 108.
Carty, J.J., youth, 232;
enters telephone field, 234;
Carty and the switchboard, 235, 242;
uses metallic circuit, 238;
in New York City, 241;
invents bridging bell, 243;
chief engineer, 244;
extends long-distance telephone, 246;
seeks wireless telephone, 253;
talks across continent by wireless, 257.
Code flags at sea, 24.
Colomb's flashing lights, 25.
Congress votes funds for telegraph, 84.
Cooke, William P., 49, 52.
Cornell, Ezra, 86, 93, 107.
Davy's needle telegraph, 44.
De Forest, Dr. Lee, 225, 256.
Dolbear and telephone, 185;
wireless telegraphy, 194.
Drawbaugh case, 186.
Duplex telegraphy, 104, 265.
Dyar, Harrison Gray, 41.
Edison, and the telegraph, 104;
telephone transmitter 180;
wireless telegraphy, 195.
Ellsworth, Annie, 85.
Field, Cyrus W., plans Transatlantic cable, 110;
honors, 125, 136;
develops cable, 130, 134.
Gale, Professor, 67, 86.
Gauss and Weber's telegraph, 43.
Gisborne, F.N., 109.
Gray, Elisha, 157, 184.
_Great Eastern_, 132, 135, 139.
Guns as marine signals, 23.
Hammond, John Hays, 229.
Heaviside, A.W., 196.
Henry, Joseph, 65, 67, 158, 169.
Hertz and the Hertzian waves, 197.
Hubbard, Gardiner G., 149, 159, 170, 178.
Hubbard, Mabel, 148, 166.
Indian smoke signals, 20.
Jackson, Dr. Charles T., 64, 79.
Kelvin, Lord (See Thomson), 138.
"Kwaker" captured, 50.
Long-distance telephone, 245.
Magnetic Telegraph Co., 93.
Marconi, boyhood, 199;
accomplished wireless telegraphy, 202;
demonstration in England, 209;
Transatlantic telegraphy, 217;
Marconi Telegraph Company, 220.
Marine signals on Argonautic expedition, 15.
Mirror galvanometer, 127.
Mirrors of Pharaoh, 17.
Morse at University of New York, 66.
Morse, code in signals, 27;
at Yale, 57;
art student, 59;
conceives the telegraph, 63;
exhibits telegraph, 75;
offers telegraph to Congress, 76, 91;
patents telegraph, 82;
submarine cable, 83, 107;
erects first line, 86;
Multiplex printer telegraph, 274.
Mundy, Arthur J., 31.
O'Reilly, Henry, 94.
Preece, W.H., 196, 209.
Printing telegraph, 271.
Pupin, Michael I., 247.
Quadruplex telegraphy, 104, 265.
Reis's musical telegraph, 157.
Sanders, Thomas, 148, 159, 178.
Scribner, Charles E., 236.
Searchlight telephone, 251.
Semaphore signals, 27.
Shouting sentinels, 16.
Sibley, Hiram, 96, 99.
Signal columns, 19.
Siphon recorder, 137.
Smith, Francis O.J., 76.
Stentorophonic tube, 18.
Submarine signals, 31.
Telegraph, first suggestion, 39;
Telephone invented and patented, 162;
at Centennial, 165;
Thomson, youth, 144;
cable adviser, 121;
invents mirror galvanometer, 126;
invents siphon recorder, 137;
connection with telephone, 169.
Transatlantic cable (See Atlantic cable).
Transatlantic wireless telegraphy, 216.
Transatlantic wireless telephone, 259.
Transcontinental telegraph, 96.
Transcontinental telephone, 246.
Transcontinental wireless telephone, 257.
Trowbridge, John, 190.
Troy, signaling fall of, 14.
Tuning the wireless telegraph, 222.
Vail, Alfred, arranges Morse code, joins Morse, 70;
makes telephone apparatus, 72;
operates first line, 90;
improves telegraph, 100.
Vail, Theodore, joins telephone forces, 180;
puts wires underground, 239;
adopts copper circuits, 240;
resumes telephone leadership, 244;
talks across continent without wires, 257.
Watson, aids Bell with telephone, 159;
telephone partner, 175;
helps demonstrate telephone, 175;
telephones across continent, 248.
Western Union, organized, 96;
enters telephone field, 178.
five-needle telegraph, 49;
single-needle telegraph, 52;
Wheatstone-Cooke controversy, 52;
automatic transmitter, 53;
opposes Morse, 78;
encourages Bell, 145.
Wig-wag system, 26.
Wireless telegraphy suggested, 188;
on shipboard, 221;
in the future, 230.
Wireless telephone, conceived, 250;
in navy, 261.