The majority of this article originated in 500 Get the News by Wire at Once, from the same day's edition of the New York Times.
New Brunswick (New Jersey) Times, October 25, 1911, page 6:
TOR ATKINSON GETS OUT
FIRST ISSUE OF NEWS BY WIRE
lephone Herald Begins with Ball Game--Listen when You Like, to What You Like--Whistle for Important News.
Condit S. Atkinson, of Highland Park, the well known newspaper man, yesterday got out the first issue of the first telephone newspaper ever issued in this country. The scene was in Newark and he had the baseball game to fall back upon as a great feature. It is the first time he has been engaged in newspaper work where there are no typesetting machines, no ink, no paper. It is called the Telephone Herald, because the news goes hot over the wire to the subscriber.
Of the Newark fans who heard by wire yesterday how Baker and his Philadelphia associates had defeated the Giants again, fifty got their bulletins in the waiting room of a department store, and 500 others by telephone in their own homes.
The wire that carried the news ran from the offices of The Telephone Herald and the bulletins it sent out yesterday on the baseball game were the beginning of a service which it is proposed to make permanent.
In each home where the system had been installed two ear pieces hung down the wall, so arranged that two persons might use them or only one. Subscribers received throughout the day stock reports, general news, a violin selection, a piano solo, and a tenor and soprano duet. Subscribers had to take things as they came, since there was no way by which they could reach the newspaper's editors with special demands for baseball or for racing results while Baker's two-base hit was being noted.
The department store had fifty ear pieces hanging from the walls of its main waiting room. From 3 o'clock until 5 every one of the ear pieces had a listener.
Sermons for the Wire.
For election night several restaurants have arranged to have a set of ear pieces for each table. Next Sunday a sending machine will be placed just under the pulpit in a Newark church, and the sermon will go hot over the wire to the homes of subscribers. The company installing the service feels that there is no limit to it. It plans also to put the machines in theatres to give the subscribers a variation of the entertainment especially provided in the company's headquarters.
When a reporter called at The Telephone Herald offices in the Essex building he found everybody listening at ear pieces, they were ranged in a room that otherwise was without much furniture. As everyone was busy listening the reporter picked up an ear piece that was not working and heard in a fairly distinct voice: "Collins out, Baker at bat."
Boiling Down Copy.
W. E. Gunn, the general manager, was willing, after the game, to oblige an inquirer who wished to look through the plant. There were typewriter desks and young men who might have been reporters, busy at the machines. Mr. Atkinson, the editor, sat apart, drawing many lines with a blue pencil through the material submitted to him. He was "paring it to the bone," he said for the purposes of a telephone bulletin service. With his duties the similarity with a newspaper office ended, for when he sent a copy boy hustling with his pages of copy, the boy rushed to a telephone booth instead of to a typesetting room.
In the booth a young man was reading in a rather loud and slow fashion. Before him were two mouthpieces, each about four times the size of the mouthpiece of the ordinary telephone. The mouthpieces were arranged so that they were end to end against each other, with just room for the talker's face between them. He did not talk into either mouthpiece dirertly, his voice being caught sidewise in each. As he read out the news bulletins--these particular ones were about a race meet somewhere--the 500 subscribers were listening or not, as they desired.
No Come Back.
"They never can molest the sender," the editor explained, "for there is no come-back over the wire, all they can do is to listen and hang up when they are tired of the kind of news that is running if it does not interest them Each subscriber has in his home our schedules telling what kind of news will be running at any given minute. So he can look up his schedule for the kind he wishes."
On any one of the thirty odd headpieces in the company's outer office it was easy to hear and understand the bulletins. How it would be farther away, after they had passed over a long trunk line, it was not so easy to determine. The company's officers assert that their instruments are ample. They explained, however, that it was not planned to make any phonographic or other connections so that the subscriber could loosen the flow of music or news for a group of dinner guests.
Alarm for Big News.
"But we have a device," he continued, "by which we can startle subscribers into the consciousness that we have something extra-special for them. We can make our receivers repeat a whistle loud enough for it to be heard some distance away. Let some big news event break and we'll whistle 'em to their instruments to catch it, and then send it over."
Came From Budapest.
The inspiration of the plan to serve drama and the news over the telephone come to this country from Budapest and the holders of the American patents for the instruments in use in Budapest hit upon Newark as a likely town to give the plan a first American trial. If it succeeds in Newark it will be tried in other cities. To make music for the service a specially constructed music room has been provided with sounding boards and a number of sending instruments attached to music stands. A violinist was performing at one stand and a pianist at another when the door was opened to admit an inquirer yesterday.
It was the opening of the before dinner service for young folks and children. The performance of both instruments was blended into a duet on the
wires. It was to be followed by some fairy stories for children talked into a sender by an elocutionist of the professionally reciting kind. After the bedtime of the children--from 8:30 to 11 o'clock--vaudeville jokes were to be sent, followed by orchestral music until 1 am m.
The morning schedule, opening at 8 o'clock, calls for the announcement of exact time by whistle, and the forwarding of stock exchange reports and bulletins culled from the cables and telegraphic reports to morning newspapers. After 9 o'clock, when the husband, presumably, has gone to his office, the housewife is to be informed of the special bargain sales announced for the day, the location of theatres in which matinees are scheduled, the social calendar for the day and local personals.