An original scan of this article is at: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85047165/1901-02-02/ed-1/seq-1/.
Honolulu Republican, February 2, 1901, page 1:
MARCONI'S SYSTEM FINALLY A SUCCESS
The Inter-Island Telegraph About Ready For Business.
DEMONSTRATION AT DIAMOND HEAD
THERE WILL BE SEVEN STATIONS ON THE VARIOUS ISLANDS.
Fourteen Operators Finish Their Schooling in the Mysteries of Wireless Telegraphy. They Will Commence Work Next Tuesday.
"MOLOKAI! Molokai! Molokai!" cracked the heavy transmitter of the Diamond Head station of the Inter-Island Telegraph System yesterday afternoon.
The company stood breathless for a moment and then the delicate receiver began to click and the tape from the inking machine ran smoothly from a little slot beside the machine and in an instant a pretty operator read the message.
"I am ready," came the answer.
An instant later, the tape again crept from under the little wheel and the telegraphic symbols representing the desired letters, issued from the machine and the little ink signs showed that the operator on Molokai understood what was required of him and that the Marconi telegraph system was more than a dream, especially with regard to the people of these islands.
All talk to the contrary notwithstanding, the wireless telegraph is an undoubted success. The system works and messages may be transmitted from this city to other portions of these islands and can be transmitted with as much accuracy as could be had by using regular wires in any other portion of the world.
Tuesday next, the operators of the new system will be installed in the seven stations of the company and a few days later the lines of the company will be open for the use of the public. The first few days of the actual operation of the new system will be devoted to the free use of the wires and wireless system by the business men of these islands, for the purpose of demonstrating the feasibility and usefulness of the new plan of sending messages. After that, the regular tolls at the company will be charged for the use of the system.
Yesterday's trial was not absolutely perfect, but the trifling difficulties which stands in the way of perfection, are simply several little deficiencies in the instruments which a small amount of labor of the mechanical sort will entirely remove. The points of contact on the transmitting instrument will have to be brightened, by the use of a file and the standard which upholds the receiver must be made steadier, and when these things have been done, there is no reason why the people of the big island should be more than a few seconds distant from the metropolis.
Fully a year ago, a company was organized to put a system of wireless telegraphy in operation between the islands of this group. The company consists of W. R. Castle, president; C. L. Wight, vice-president; W. R. Farrington, secretary; James A. Morgan, treasurer; Oscar White, auditor; W. H. Hoogs, O. G. Traphagen, J. A. Magoon and R. D. Silliman, directors. These gentlemen combined in order to make communication between the islands more rapid than the old method now in use, of trusting urgent business or personal messages to the slow cumbersome movements of sailing ships or small steamers.
With this object in view the company entered into negotiations with the Wireless Telegraph Company of London, England, a corporation which controlled the use and ownership of the marvelous inventions of Signor Marconi. A contract was drawn up between the parties and the installation of the largest wireless telegraph system in the world was made certain in these islands.
Experts in every branch of the new industry were sent out from the home office of the company and for several months Messrs. Gray, Hobbs and Pletz have been employed in arranging the various stations and relays of the new lines. First, the sites for the stations had to be selected and surveyed, then the poles were erected and experiments to demonstrate the correctness of the chosen positions, had to be made. After these preliminaries were completed, it was necessary to find and train the future operators at the new instruments. Too great expectations on the part of the public and a number of accidents which could not be provided against by the company have been the causes of the distrust of the ultimate utility of the wireless-telegraph in these islands, but in spite of these unfavorable circumstances, the company is almost ready to receive the plant from the hands of the experts of the London company and to commence the actual use of their system.
Yesterday's demonstration was only one of a series which have been conducted to school the future operators in their duties in receiving and transmitting messages between the seven stations of the system. There are fourteen operators, four of them young women, and they all seemed eager to learn the new order of things and very quick to pick up the suggestions of their superiors in relation to the details of their work. They stood about the mysterious-looking instruments with their pencils in their hands and interpreted the messages as they came across the lines. One bright, pretty girl, who is to be the chief operator of the system took the message quoted above from the tape and when it was certain that the query to Molokai had been correctly transmitted and received by the operator at the other end of the line, she clapped her hands together and seemed as much delighted as the hard-worked manager of the company, F. J. Cross, himself.
According to the plans of the company there will be a main-station located in this city and connected with the Diamond Head receiving station by an ordinary line of telegraph. The station at Diamond Head will be known as the Waialae station. Then there will be a station on this end of Molokai, a relay to Lanai, another at Lahaina on the Island of Maui and another station at Makena. The station at Makena will be connected with the big island by a long span to Mahukona. From Mahukona a telephone line will be run to Hilo by way of Honokaa. When all the auxiliary lines have been constructed the port of Hilo will be within a very short distance from Honolulu for it will take only a few seconds of time to send a message to that city and receive an answer.
The working of the Marconi instruments is apparently very mysterious, but when their operations are examined under the tutelage of the genial Mr. Cross, the mysterious qualities of the processes fade away and leave in their stead only a wondering sense of the greatness and capacity of the mind of the inventor.
The mechanism of Marconi's system is simplicity itself when you come to understand it. All that is apparent to the eye is tall pole supported on either side by wire stays and having something at the top like a sprit-sail yard. A heavy wire leads up to the sprit from the operator's station and there is nothing more. Inside the station there is a long table and on the table stand two strange appearing instruments, with a familiar-looking machine like an ordinary stock-ticker, minus the glass top.
One of the machines is the sender and the other the receiver. The sender is composed of a Rhumkorf coil and receives a heavy current from a battery of cells on the floor below it. It looks like a large cylinder of hard rubber and in reality contains the coil. On one side of the cylinder the poles of the battery are situated and as the circuit is closed or broken at the will of the operator, a snap like lightning, flashes from one pole to the other and a Hertzian wave is started from the end of the sprit, high in the air, which goes on out into space with the speed of light until it finds a resting place at the other end of the relay. The sending operator uses an appliance far different than that of the ordinary Morse sender. It is almost six inches in length, but it may be moved with great quickness and the current formed and broken with sufficient speed to send twenty words a minute. One end of the wire runs up to the sprit and the other forms connection with the earth so that the circuit is complete.
The sender is nothing very wonderful but the other portion of the mechanism, leads one to think that the mind of man and its possibilities for ingenuity have nearly reached the limit of progress.
The instrument is enclosed in a long black-iron case. One end of the case is open and just inside may be seen the receiving wire of the system, a pair of little coils connected with a small hammerlike arrangement which is placed so that when the current passes through the little coils the hammer will be drawn up to them and will strike a minute glass tube, which lies on the top of the coils. This little glass tube is the great invention of Marconi. The tube is hollow and contains a small bar of silver or some kindred metal, which is broken in the middle. Each piece of the metal is connected through the ends of the tube with a strand of copper wire, one of which is grounded and the other attached to the end of the receiving wire on the pole.
The great difficulty experienced by inventors in perfecting a system of wireless telegraphy has always been to find some means of forming and breaking the circuit so as to give intelligent signals. Marconi has solved the problem.
In the small space between the bars of silver within the little glass tube Marconi has introduced a very small amount of silver and nickel filings which is very mobile. When a dot or a dash is signalled by the receiving line, the current runs through the little tube which is known as the coherer and passes from one of the little silver bars to the other, traversing the filings and electrifying them so that for the moment they become as much of a conductor as if they were formed into a solid wire. Then, when the signal has passed, the little coils gets in their work and a still small current from one lonely little dry-cell causes the hammer to be drawn, up against the coherer, with a sharp blow. The result of the tap from the hammer, is to knock the filings from the position into which the electricity has galvanized them and the current from the receiving line, not being able to hold the dust-like substance in place, is broken and an impulse is passed along to the inking machine, which registers the signal sent from the other end of the line.
The whole operation takes but the merest fraction of a second to complete and is followed by others, until a speed is attained about equal to the speed of an ordinary long-hand penman.
The work of the experts has been well done and they deserve great credit for their skill as engineers, but the manner adopted by Mr. Hobbs who has had charge of the station at Diamond Head, in his relations with the members of the press and with citizens generally desiring information as to the new plant, has been anything but of a nature to inspire confidence. It may be charged to him and others like him that the people of this city have such strong doubts about the ultimate utility of the wireless telegraph.