Beginning in 1900, British Marconi supplied equipment for the construction of radiotelegraph stations on several of the Hawaiian Islands -- formerly known as the Sandwich Islands -- which at that time were a recently acquired U.S. territory. These stations were among the first commercial radio installations on U.S. soil. However, after a promising start, in early 1902 it was announced that the Inter-Island Wireless Telegraph Service had suspended operations due to financial difficulties. The Great Round World, November 9, 1899, pages 1527-1528:
Wireless Telegraphy in Hawaii.
It is announced that an American company will install the wireless telegraphic system in the Hawaiian Islands, thereby bringing the various islands in the group into communication with each other. There has so far been no system of telegraphy in these islands. The news has had to be carried from one to the other by boat. The reason for this was that the waters around the Sandwich Islands are full of coral reefs, and were the cables to be laid in them, they would soon be covered with growths of coral, which would cause frequent breaks and make the work of repairing very difficult.
The recent development of the islands has made the use of a telegraph system almost a matter of necessity, and the firm which will now attempt to install the wireless system had decided to lay a cable system at all risks rather than be without communication by wire.
Just as their plans were nearly completed, they heard of the experiments of Signor Marconi, and determined to adopt his system for Hawaii, as it would do away with the difficulty of laying cables. The distances over which communication will be established will vary from eight to sixty-one miles.
New York Times, December 3, 1899, page 16:
MARCONI SYSTEM FOR HAWAII.
Wireless Telegraphy to be Used for Messages Between Islands.
HONOLULU. Nov. 23.--Contracts have been made for connecting all the islands of the Hawaiian group by the Marconi system of wireless telegraphy. J. J. Cross, who went to New York for the purpose of negotiating with the inventor of the system, returned on the steamship Australia. He says that he has obtained the exclusive right to use the invention here, with an agreement from the inventor to provide an expert to put the system in working order.
Marconi, he says, claims that perfect communication between all the islands of Hawaii can be established at a small expense. Work is to be begun at once. The apparatus is to arrive here by Feb. 1, and the system will be in operation by March 1.
The Electrician (London), March 2, 1900, pages 679-680:
COMPANIES' MEETINGS AND REPORTS.
Wireless Telegraph and Signal Co. (Ltd.). [Hawaii extract]
The adjourned third ordinary general meeting of this company was held on Friday last, Major S. FLOOD PAGE (managing director), in the chair...
The CHAIRMAN said... Then the third heading of my division is the combination of land and water, like the Andamans and Hawaii... We have entered into a contract where such a use of the Marconi system is about to be introduced--that is, in Hawaii. I do not know whether anyone present has been in Honolulu : I have been there. There are five islands, which are now going to be connected by the Marconi system. They were going to have a cable, which would have been a very expensive work. Our apparatus is now being made, and our assistants would have started before had it not been for the plague in Honolulu. You thus have a practical illustration as to where the system will be certainly used. Negotiations are also going on with respect to Brazil and Canada with respect to its use there with this combination of land and water.
Electrical World and Engineer, June 16, 1900, page 907:
WIRELESS TELEGRAPHY IN HAWAII.--Mr. T. Bowden, of San Francisco, recently went to Honolulu, and is now doing the engineering work preliminary to establishing the Marconi system of wireless telegraphy, by which communication is to be maintained between the several islands of the Hawaiian group. He will locate the telegraph stations and install the apparatus. It has been decided to auction off the privilege of sending the first message over the lines. The highest bidder will be allowed to name the charity or benevolent institution to which the money will be given. An offer of $500 has been made in advance for this privilege.
Electrical World and Engineer, December 11, 1900, page 850:
THE WIRELESS AT HONOLULU.--A special despatch from Honolulu says: Arthur Gray, an expert in the employ of Marconi, arrived here in the City of Pekin to put the wireless telegraphy system into operation between the Hawaiian Islands. He brought all of Marconi's latest appliances. He expresses himself confident that the system can be made to operate successfully.
Electrical World and Engineer, December 29, 1900, page 1004:
WIRELESS TELEGRAPHY IN HAWAII.--A dispatch from Honolulu of Dec. 14th says: Wireless telegraphy is meeting with much success in Hawaii. A large number of messages have already been transmitted from one island to another. The company which is seeking to put the system in operation lately chartered the yacht La Paloma to cruise among the islands to test the possibility of communicating with ships at sea from land. The tests are said to have been successful. Experiments are now in progress to determine the best locations for the stations on several islands. When this has been completed stations will be connected by ordinary telegraph lines with the centres of population, and regular transmission of commercial business will be begun.
Electrical Review, January 19, 1901, page 105:
Wireless Telegraphy in Hawaii.
Wireless telegraph stations in the Hawaiian Islands were put into operation on January 10, thus practically connecting all the islands except Kauai. Three stations are operating at present, on being in Honolulu, one at Hilo, and one on the island of Lanai, that being the connecting station between the two others. By means of cables and telephone practically all the islands of the group are now in communication.
Electrical World and Engineer, April 13, 1901, page 607:
WIRELESS TELEGRAPHY IN HAWAII.--A San Francisco correspondent states that the wireless telegraph system in the Hawaiian Islands is reported to be working satisfactorily between the islands of Oahu, Molokai and Maui. Commercial business and press dispatches are properly attended to between the points named.
Electrical World and Engineer, April 20, 1901, page 646:
WIRELESS TELEGRAPHY IN HAWAII.--The steamer Upolu, a small interisland vessel, was reported recently on the reef at Puku, Hawaii. The news was sent to Honolulu by wireless telegraph from Maukona, which would imply that the system is now in regular working order in the Sandwich Islands.
Report of the Governor of the Territory of Hawaii, 1901, page 81:
The Marconi system of wireless telegraphy is in successful operation between Honolulu and the islands of Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Hawaii. There are at present five stations: Waialae, Oahu; Ka Laau Point, Molokai; Keeaumoku, Lanai; Lahaina, Maui, and Mahukona, Hawaii. In addition to this there are two city offices, one in Honolulu and one in Hilo connecting with the wireless stations at Waialae and Mahukona. At present time the company is not attempting direct communication between Waialae and Mahukona, all traffic being relayed twice between these terminal points. A message from Honolulu to Hilo has to go by wire from Honolulu to Waialae, thence to Molokai, 28 miles, thence to Lanai 30 miles, thence to Mahukona, 78 miles, thence by telephone, 60 miles. The poles of the wireless stations range from 125 to 175 feet in height above sea level. The Morse cable code is used.
The Electrician (London), November 16, 1901, page 110:
Wireless Telegraphy in Hawaii.--We notice, in a recent number of the Western Electrician, of Chicago, that it is reported from the Hawaiian Island that the Marconi system of wireless telegraphy introduced there for inter-island communication has not been entirely successful. The signalling between Honolulu and Molokai is not satisfactory. It is assumed that the heights of the upright conductors at the two points have not been sufficient, and that when this fault is remedied all will work satisfactorily.
The Electrician (London), November 23, 1901, page 151:
Wireless Telegraphy.--With regard to the difficulties which we referred to in our last issue as having arisen in the establishment of communication between certain of the Hawaiian Islands, we are now authorised to announce that these difficulties have been entirely overcome, and that a continuous service has been for some time in operation. It seems that the unfortunate illness of the representative of the Marconi Company was largely responsible for the temporary inefficiency of the service.
The Electrician (London), February 7, 1902, page 600:
An Anti-climax in Marconi Telegraphy.--The following telegram from the New York correspondent of the Standard appeared in last Monday's issue of that paper :-
The first and, it may be, the sole commercial application of the Marconi system has ended unfavourably. The Hawaiian islands, requiring many short links, offered a unique opportunity. A company organised with 100,000 capital, after two months' working is unable to pay its operators. The bank balance is 5dols., and is garnisheed upon a debt of $9,000. After early difficulties the system worked perfectly upon such tests as synchronising the island's official clocks from Honolulu. A large proportion of messages were also transmitted accurately. But there seemed to be no security regarding any particular message. Many unaccountable and total disappearances of messages undermined public confidence, leading to disuse of the installations, which were by Marconi experts. Litigation is threatened over any attempt to substitute another system.
The Electrician (London), February 21, 1902, pages 712-713:
COMPANIES' MEETINGS AND REPORTS.
Wireless Telegraph and Signal Co. (Ltd.). [Hawaii extract]
The fifth ordinary general meeting of the company was held yesterday (Thursday) under the presidency of Col. Sir CHARLES EUAN-SMITH, K.C.R., C.S.I. ...
Mr. MARCONI then addressed the meeting as follows:-- ...
I pass now to the main items of these indictments of my system, which, if they could, would disqualify it as a commercial system, and particularly as a commercial system for use over long distances, on the grounds of lack of secrecy, of speed and of general reliability. Well, gentlemen, bare facts are the best answers to allegations of this sort, I shall simply mention that, so far from these suggestions, which have been widely made in what I may call cable circles, being true, my system is, at the present moment, in precisely that permanent use which they would deny it, upon over 70 ships and at 25 land stations in regular everyday work. One failure, indeed, I regret to have to chronicle. I refer to the operations of the local company which was formed nearly three years ago to work the system in the Sandwich Islands. That failure, however, was wholly due to the inferior class of operators whom the Hawaiian company was ill-advised enough to employ for reasons of very false economy. It casts no discredit on the system, but only on the company, for whose operations we were in no way responsible.
Cassier's Magazine, April, 1902, pages 513:
On top of the "boom" in wireless telegraph stock comes a report from Honolulu to the effect that the Marconi system between several of the islands of the Sandwich group has failed as a commercial undertaking. The distance covered by the system was about 150 miles, with relay stations at intervals of 20 to 30 miles. The rate for messages was two dollars for ten words and twenty cents for each additional word. Complaint was made that many messages went astray, but apparently the chief difficulty was a lack of funds to pay running expenses. It would seem that, as a matter of business policy, the parent company should have taken steps to keep this system alive, inasmuch as it was the first attempt at a commercial application of wireless telegraphy on a fairly large scale.