Denial of Their Right to Operate as Well as Their Usefulness.
To the Editor of The New York Times: I have noted with surprise the wild claims brought forward by Mr. Gernsback in support of the wireless amateur. The only one of them deserving the least consideration is the claim that dabbling with wireless telegraphy will keep the boys "from something worse." But why make every wireless operator in commercial or Government service the victim of such children as may be desirous of playing with what should be reserved exclusively for those using it for serious and important purposes, namely the ether path of communication? It is all very well to say that Government and commercial sets should be so well built and so selective in their operation that the "harmless amateur" will not be heard when he sends with his weak set. But the fault actually lies with the extremely high damping of the waves which are emitted by practically all amateur stations. To use a simple comparison, imagine two men at a distance of several hundred feet trying to communicate with each other by means of vibrating tuning forks, which give out but a single tone. No third man using a tuning fork of different pitch would in the least interfere with them provided they used as receivers some highly selective device such as a Helmholtz resonator. But let a child even mildly beat several tin pans emitting all sorts of tones over a wide range of pitch near one of the men, and the communication is immediately disturbed. One cannot tune out a note consisting of a wide range of pitches including the one on which one is receiving.
The case of the amateur is completely similar. His sending set cannot be tuned out effectively because he does not send anywhere near a definite wave length. This might have been excusable in the past when even commercial and Government stations sinned considerably in this respect, but with the modern quenched spark, rotary gap, and high frequency alternator sets which are used in practice, transmitting is done on practically a single pitch. And the amateur cannot help to obtain such sets, which are of necessity expensive and require deep technical knowledge to design properly. And he should therefore be kept out of a field where his limited possibilities for experimentation inevitably make him a nuisance to those attempting to conduct their legitimate business in an orderly fashion.
As to the claim that improvements in wireless have ever emanated from the amateur, the most cursory examination of the history of the development of that art shows this claim to be completely and absolutely false. The master minds to whom wireless owed its theoretical and technical development were all either university men equipped with proper apparatus and full scientific knowledge or skilled engineers working with companies engaged in this art. One cannot point to a single part of any modern set which is due to the amateur. It seems to me that before any one should be granted permission to set up a wireless outfit for any purpose whatsoever he should satisfactorily show his thorough knowledge of the art and prove that this apparatus is at least as good as regards freedom from interference as the modern commercial sets. And then the wave length which he should be permitted to use, and the hours during which he might use it, should be subject to regulation in the interests of the public welfare.
I appreciate heartily the valuable service which THE TIMES has rendered wireless telegraphy in its enterprise of trans-atlantic news transmitted practically entirely by radio-communication, and by the equally valuable service it is rendering in supporting proper measures to protect those who are rapidly advancing the art and not merely ignorantly dabbling with it.
ALFRED N. GOLDSMITH, Ph. D.,
Secretary of the Wireless Institute.
New York, March 29, 1912.