The Electrical Age, May 1904, pages 316-317:
Mid-Sea Wireless Telegraph News
SIGNOR MARCONI recently arrived in New York after a trip from Liverpool on the Cunarder "Campania," and has again been heard from through the medium of the daily press. It is noticeable, however, that the flourish of trumpets that formerly accompanied this gentleman's utterances for publication was lacking, and his statements regarding the possibilities of his system, if correctly reported, were much more subdued in tone than of old.
The object of Marconi's present trip appears to have been to test the efficiency of some novel receiving apparatus of recent invention, with the view of establishing daily mid-sea newspapers on the various trans-Atlantic steamships. These newspapers are to receive, by the Marconi wireless telegraph system, 200 words daily, embodying the chief news of the world--not a great budget of news, it is true, but the editors of the mid-sea journals may be relied upon to expand the news a little. This is assuming that the project will prove successful. On that point there is some doubt, for in the interviews in question Mr. Marconi only states that one of four systems which he tried on the voyage worked better than the others, and that is the system which he thinks he will adopt.
When one recalls the glowing accounts of the Marconi system that were given out over three years ago, it is more than surprising to learn that any question remains at this late day as to which of the systems of that company is the best. That the wireless news source is not yet ready for operation is further shown by another remark of the inventor to the effect that long-distance experiments of sending at sea will be undertaken within a few months, probably aboard a British warship. This remark will doubtless blight the hopes of those pecuniarily interested ones who have been educated to the belief that the Marconi long-distance wireless system had long since passed the experimental stage, and had nearly reached the dividend-paying point.
According to the statement now made, Marconi received signals from Poldhu at a distance of 1700 miles east of that section during the recent voyage. No messages, however, were sent to Poldhu from the ship. The reason of this is obvious. The system of vertical wires and the high power of the transmitting apparatus at Poldhu are lacking on the "Campania." Consequently, messages from the vessel would not be perceived at Poldhu. Hence, while messages or news might be received by the vessel from Poldhu, there would be no means of informing that station whether or not the message had been received on shipboard until the arrival of the ship at port. When, therefore, the news service is established, the dispatches from Poldhu will be cast upon the air, probably at prearranged hours, and all those who may be able to do so, whether equipped with the Marconi apparatus or not, may pick up the news. For whatever may be said to the contrary, it is not likely that the news will be transmitted in cypher; nor has the art of selective signaling reached the point where any sufficiently sensitive receivers may not receive the despatches.
It appears that doubt has been expressed of the ability of the general operator to take long-distance wireless messages; that, in other words, while Marconi may be able to receive long-distance signals, the general operator is not able to do so. This can mean only that the general operator is not as expert as Marconi in the adjustment of the apparatus, which is possible, or that furthest, the ships have not been equipped with apparatus suitable for receiving long-distance signals. We incline to the latter view, for it is difficult to assume that by this time the practical operators of the system have not acquired a skill in adjustment of apparatus equal to that of Marconi, unless it be admitted that the apparatus employed is intricate to a degree that would seem to render its everyday use impracticable.
Marconi had his little pleasantry with the interviewers. He was politely asked if the operation of his latest system for the reception of news on vessels in mid-ocean could be explained in terms intelligible to the lay mind. To this inquiry he sagely replied that the system consisted of "little coils of wire and little technical things" which will no doubt be readily comprehended by an interested public.
Marconi frankly expressed the opinion that the De Forest system was doing very well indeed in the Far East, but excused himself from saying more on the ground that his company was suing the De Forest company for infringement of patents.
It may be noted that De Forest has claimed that owing to the sensitiveness of his receiving apparatus and the high speed at which his system is operated, it is not possible for systems employing less sensitive and more sluggish apparatus to receive the signals received by his receiving apparatus. The speed appears to be about twenty-five or thirty words per minute. The maximum speed of receiving by any of the best known filings coherers is about twelve or fifteen words per minute. Consequently, while such coherers might be sufficiently sensitive to respond to signals transmitted by the De Forest system, their inertia is usually so great that they would not record the signals transmitted at the higher rate intelligibly, which is perhaps what De Forest meant to imply by his statement.