New York Times, March 19, 1911, page S8.
HIS WIRELESS WORKS WHEREVER HE WILLS
15,000-Mile Messages Nothing to Prof. Van Bergh, Who Raises Chickens Up Near Nyack.
OTHER SYSTEMS AS NAUGHT
Their Flashes He Catches and Plays With and Sends Them Wandering, Fatherless, in the Empyrean.
Prof. Carlos Van Bergh, a native of Valparaiso, Chile, who speaks sixteen tongues, has patented many electrical inventions, and last Fall raised chickens on a secluded twelve-acre farm about a mile southwest of the railroad station at West Nyack, N. Y., has interested several capitalists of Winnipeg, Manitoba, in a wireless telegraph and telephone apparatus, which, if it does one-tenth of the things he boasts for it, will not only make all existing systems of wireless telegraphy look puerile, but will actually put them all out of commission.
Prof. Van Bergh, who adds to his title a degree of Doctor of Medicine from the University of Berlin, and of Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Vienna, says that with his invention he has already picked up wireless messages from a ship at sea 12,800 miles away, and can so twist all wireless messages of other systems that a message sent from Gibraltar to Madrid, for example, will find itself stumbling bewildered through space to Tokio or Zanzibar and be unable to reach its proper destination. After a final 15,000-mile test three months hence, he says, he is going to organize a wireless telegraph and telephone company with a capitalization of $100,000,000.
Prof. Carlos Van Bergh, M. D., Ph. D., is a tall, broad-shouldered, broad-girthed Dutch South American scientist-medico-chicken raiser of 41 years, who has been living for over a year on his out-of-the-way leased farm in a tightly shuttered, faded two-story farmhouse off the Blauvelt Road with his portly Dutch South American wife and raiser and a great, growling, shaggy dog that doesn't welcome strangers.
The walls of the four rooms of his house are bare and the floors uncarpeted and littered with boxes and bottles of his scientific-medico-chicken-raising experiments. In the hall are two great shotguns of large bore that likewise do not welcome strangers. The professor himself is a florid giant, with bright blue eyes under shaggy eyebrows, rather thin gray hair parted in the middle, and bristling, fierce mustachios. He wears a suit of industrious-looking overalls and at his neck a wild-looking red handkerchief like the knotted neckpiece of a Parisian apache.
He took a reporter of THE TIMES up into his workshop under the roof, which, through a round, red-papered hole in the dusty window, commands a view of the surrounding countryside for many miles, the length and breadth of which, though he mingles little with the villagers, he has a reputation for stupendous learning and skill. That reputation will spread to the uttermost ends of a wondering world, if half the things the professor claims for his newest invention prove only one-tenth true. The laboratory is stocked with neatly labeled boxes and vials, and along one wall is a row of covered wooden cages, in whose darkness strange wild birds chuckle and peck.
Under this very roof, he says, in company with one of his capitalist friends, R. Innes Hopkins of Winnipeg, he picked out of the wonder-hearing air a message from the steamship Prinzessin Irene, at Gibraltar, 6,000 miles away, on Feb. 18.
"The message told us that the Prinzessin Irene, which had left Gibraltar on Feb. 13, had run into a great storm, on that day, Feb. 18, which swept away one of her propellers. She was calling for help and announcing that she was returning to Gibraltar," he said.
"We could not talk to her, but the next day Mr. Hopkins went to the North German Lloyd office in New York. They had not yet heard of the accident, the Prinzessin Irene being out of range of their wireless. When the ship reached New York on Feb. 24 we found that we had not mistaken her message."
On another occasion, said the scientific-medico-chicken-raising professor, he picked up a business wireless from the Japanese Aki Maru, 200 miles from Batavia, and 12,800 miles from the wonderful West Nyack chicken farm. He translated it, Japanese though it was, through the Continental code. That was his long-distance record--so far.
Wonderful to tell, the professor said, his wireless system needs neither air wire nor ground wire. It operates through some mysterious medium the nature--of which--he would not divulge further than to say it was a radio-active force. Other systems, therefore, he said, could not pick up his waves, though he could not only pick up theirs but also twist them by means of his radio-active force sadly awry from their due destination. He needed no electric force at all, he said, to pick up the 6,000-mile message, and only two dry cells or 1½ volts and 18 amperes (price 15 cents) to send one as far, or even 12,000 miles.
"Will you thus be able to force the existing companies out of existence?" he was asked.
"I do not want to," he replied, "but I can't tell what will happen. A man has to live." He spoke with dignity, but a twinkling eye.
Besides these vast telegraphic possibilities, however, his invention can be used equally well, he said, for wireless long-distance telephone service.
He tried this, he said, about two years ago from his former home at 101 West 115th Street, New York, to an iron steamboat at Far Rockaway, whereon his wife had taken the telephone receiver. She heard and understood him perfectly.
"This telephone apparatus I call a teleautophonograph," he explained, "because it not only receives and takes the messages, but in case its owner is absent, jots it down of its own accord, and calls it out to him like a phonograph when he returns hours later."
Unfortunately the professor had neither the wireless telegraph nor the wireless teleautophonograph apparatus at hand to demonstrate its wonderful powers. His receiver, he explained, had been burned out completely by the storm 6,000 miles away, on the night he listened to the wireless message from the Prinzessin Irene at Gibraltar. And insomuch as it would cost $6,000 to rig up a new one, he regretted that he could not satisfy the curiosity of his visitor until the date of the final 15,000-mile test three months hence. He said, however, that he had somewhere in the house the written testimony of the Winnipeg capitalist, R. Innes Hopkins, as to the receipt of that message from the Prinzessin Irene on Feb. 18. A search, however, failed to produce the testimonial. Maybe the storm 6,000 miles off, or some other storm equally "off," had destroyed that, too.
Besides Mr. Hopkins, said the fowl-cultivating medico-scientist, another capitalist, John McKenzie of Winnipeg, was interested in his invention. But he disclaimed any financial assistance from either of them as yet, saying that he preferred to work altogether with his own resources till the device is completed. He said he had already sunk in it $25,000 of his private fortune, left him by his father, who was a rich Chilean mine owner.
The chicken-raising professor hasn't applied yet for a patent on his wireless apparatus, saying that he wants first to complete it beyond the possibility of further improvement. He has invented several other devices, however, he said, among them a wonderful burglar alarm (no longer on the market) which he sold under the trade name of the Van Bergh Protection Company (no longer selling) when he lived at 101 West 115th Street, Manhattan.
According to a pamphlet descriptive of the device, "the inventor, a man of genius, Prof. Van Bergh, has devoted his time and energy to the special study of the ways and means by which burglaries have been planned and perpetrated." The device consisted of a series of wire threads hung over the window, which oompleted an electrical current as soon as disturbed, however slightly, and set in motion a secret machine, which screamed "Help! Police! Burglars! Murder!" At the time, while the burglar is still deliberating, "he is stunned by a load of fine sand, shot into his face by the same apparatus." If the owner of the house is not at home at the time, "a wireless telegram is sent" by the same apparatus, and "he will find, wherever he may be a telegram written on a slip of paper reporting the criminal attempt at his villa."
"If the telegram has reached the owner too late," the pamphlet continues, "some measure can nevertheless be taken to make arrests and to recover the stolen goods," for the same wonderful device marks the time of the burglary and registers any shot or noise that may have attended it.
A last use to which the burglar alarm may be put, according to the same pamphlet, (now out of print,) is to prevent kidnappings of children: for if carried under the child's dress or hat or hidden in its schoolbag the device yells for the police even before the child itself is aware of the fact that the kidnapping has been attempted.
The wonderful burglar alarm, however, seems not to have proved a bonanza, for the company that sold it is no more, and Prof. Van Bergh himself, it will be recalled, has two shotguns and a good growling dog to guard his house. The reporter saw no burglar alarm at any of the windows.
Meanwhile the inventor, who speaks English, German, French, Spanish, Greek, Croatian, Hungarian, Russian, and a few other languages that the reporter was unable to examine him in, and can in all of them speak fluently of his invention, is slowly perfecting his world-astounding invention, and raising no more chickens. Since last Fall he has ceased to increase the chanticlerian tribe, even as before then he ceased to sell burglar alarms. He will not divulge any of the details of his new invention, nor show visitors even a speck of the wonderful radio-active substance that makes it work, but he is confident--even more confident than was his visitor yesterday--that he will soon be the telegraphic IT.