San Francisco Call, January 19, 1908, page 31:
WIRELESS PHONE HOPELESS FAILURE
Purchase of Instruments by the Navy Called Waste of Money
Many Sets Working at Once Cause Babble of Jumbled Messages
NEW YORK, Jan. 18.--"The navy department wasted $27,000 recently when it purchased 20 sets of wireless telephone apparatus," said a naval officer at the New York navy yard to a representative of The Call. This officer has been attached to the bureau of naval intelligence at Washington and is well qualified to discuss the subject of wireless telephony and wireless telegraphy as applied to the navy. The officer continued:
"The department acted with precipitate haste. The reason for this, I suppose, was because it was regarded as a good thing to equip the Pacific battleship fleet so as to give the wireless telephone a thorough test at sea. The cables from Pernambuco and Rio Janeiro do not state that the wireless telephone aboard the ships has become wholly inoperative, but that the conversation is 'fragmentary.' Of course it is. No one with a knowledge of wireless waves could reasonably have expected anything else.
"The waves from different transmitters and different ships conflict with one another. The result is that each wireless receiver gets a confused and jumbled lot of words, a perfect jargon and babel of tongues, like a dozen persons trying to talk at once over a 'party line.'
BABEL OF TALK
"Where there are 16 ships in a fleet, with hundreds of officers and thousands of seamen, it is quite natural that there would be several trying to talk at once. The wireless telegraph waves interfere also. So do the waves from the electric lighting plants with which each ship is equipped. It is true that the waves thrown off by a 110 volt dynamo are of low frequency and do not travel far, but the wireless apparatus is so exquisitely sensitive that it will catch up any kind of an electric wave that is floating around. I have picked up waves from the electric light wires strung in my bedroom and office. The buzzing sound made by the interruptions of the brushes on the commutator can be distinctly heard in an ordinary telephone receiver without wires.
"An ordinary Bell telephone receiver, if wound to a high resistance, is the most sensitive of all electrical instruments, not excepting Lord Kevin's galvanometer, which is used to receive cable dispatches. The wireless telephone is a marvel--from a scientific standpoint--but absolutely worthies for utility.
"Furthermore, in purchasing 20 sets of wireless telephone apparatus the navy department bought 'pig in a poke.' The Armstrong company of London, which owns the Poulsen wireless telephone patents, has sued the United States government for infringement. The wireless telephone transmitter now used on naval vessels was invented by Waldemar Poulsen, a brilliant electrical engineer and inventor of Copenhagen. He is the Edison of Denmark. It was Poulsen who discovered that each atom of a mass of iron or steel had its own poles. This was a notable discovery, for up to that time it had been supposed that a rod of iron or steel, for instance, when magnetized had its two poles only--one at each terminal.
"But Poulsen showed that a rod, or even a sheet of steel, could be magnetized in a nonuniform degree. He took a steel wire end by running it past the pole of a telephone receiver, recorded magnetic flux of varying degrees of intensity. This was permanently magnetized or recorded on the wire. Then he found that by running the wire pest the poles of another pair of telephone magnets in circuit with a receiver, variations of electric current were induced into the wire, and hence words and music were heard in the telephone, receiver. This new sort of phonograph, wherein a wire is used to record speech or music magnetically. Is now known »s the telegraphone or electrical graphophone. It is Poulsen's most brilliant piece of work and a scientific wonder, although it will never be commercially practicable.
"Poulsen also discovered that by enveloping an electric arc in hydrogen gas vibrations of great frequency and waves of high pressure could be made to travel for thousands of miles through space. Hence his invention of wireless telegraph and wireless telephone transmitters, which were sold to the Armstrongs of London.
"This is why I say that the department acted with undue haste, for in paying $27,000 for 20 sets of wireless telephone apparatus the government purchased a lawsuit, besides getting on its hands a lot of apparatus that is inoperative when its use is attempted synchronously by a fleet of ships within a limited area.
NEW TELEGRAPH LIMITED
"The wireless telegraph, having a much longer range than the wireless telephone, will be of more use to the navy, providing its use is limited to brief official messages. But if it is made a medium of idle conversation from ship to ship conflict and confusion is inevitable, for as yet no selective system of wireless telegraphy has been devised. Only one can talk at a time, end all can hear as easily as if the message were shouted through a megaphone.
"Wireless telegraphy or telephony will never be commercially profitable. It will never be practicable to operate, either, unless by international agreement its use is restricted to a single company. It follows as a matter of course that electric waves sent from Newfoundland destined to be received on the Irish coast radiate in all directions and travel just as far north and south as they do east and west. If a rival company were to try to transmit wireless messages from point within a radius of 1,000 miles of the Marconi plant the inevitable confusion and jumble of electric waves would put both of them out of business. This was clearly demonstrated when, during the Lipton cup races a few years ago, several rival wireless concerns tried to send reports from yachts running alongside of the racers. The result was a confused and disjointed lot of words and sentences that meant nothing at all.
BOY DISRUPTS SERVICE
"A boy at Newport Rhode Island, a few months ago rigged up an amateur wireless telegraph plant. He had the crudest kind of apparatus and used but three cells of dry battery, yet with this simple and cheap outfit he put the naval wireless system out of business. While he was tinkering it was impossible for the navy department to transmit its wireless messages. The bureau of naval intelligence was compelled to send him a polite message requesting him in the name of patriotism to desist, as his experiments seriously interfered with the navy's wireless dispatches."