Telephony, October 11, 1913, pages 21-23:
Increasing the Revenue Producing Efficiency of a Plant
One Means of Increasing the Revenue of a Telephone Company by the Utilization of the Wire Plant During Its Non-Busy Periods--Commercial Application of News Bulletin and Musical Service to Telephone System in Chicago
By Stanley R. Edwards
The tendency nowadays, among all classes of people, is to have as many conveniences and comforts in the homes as circumstances permit, in order to obtain the fullest possible enjoyment out of life. Many things which but a short time ago were looked upon as luxuries, are now classed as necessities. In the days of our forefathers, persons desiring to listen to a musical program, found it necessary to walk, and in many cases ride, great distances to attend concerts. Since those days, improved methods of transportation have been developed, the telephone has come into extensive use, and the phonograph has been invented and perfected so that an entire evening's diversion may be had in our homes, listening to celebrities, grand opera singers, bits of comedy, political speeches and other forms of entertainment.
For many years men have dreamed about, and worked upon, equipment looking to furnishing entertainment in private homes over telephone wires from a central studio or music station. Music and speeches have been transmitted over telephone wires but listeners had to be provided with individual receivers and the plan was not adapted to commercial use. Experiments have been under way for some time in Chicago, looking to the furnishing of a concert program by local artists, music, accounts of baseball games, news information, etc., over the telephone wires without the necessity of individual receivers for each person. A privileged few residents, on the south side of the city, for a few months have been receiving an experimental service of this kind. It has proven so satisfactory that arrangements have been made for furnishing the service commercially to persons who have telephone connection with the lines of the Illinois Telephone & Telegraph Co. (the automatic system).
On the top floor of one of the new office buildings in Chicago, is a studio, or central music station, from which three classes of service are furnished, namely, first-hand music, recorded music, and general information which includes baseball and football returns, also election returns. To furnish the first-hand music, singers, violinists, and other musicians render a program which is sent out directly over the telephone system to the homes and places of business of the subscribers.
It is interesting indeed, to be present in the studio at the time one of these concert programs is being rendered, and to see the manner in which the program is sent out over the wires. Those performers having to furnish either a vocal or dialogue number, sing or speak into a curiously-shaped double telephone transmitter. All musical instruments are provided with transmitters, so placed as to obtain the maximum volume of sound. For instance, the transmitter used with the cello is placed at the center of greatest vibration of the instrument as has been determined by experiment. The transmitters may be seen on the instruments in some of the illustrations.
The apparatus used to accomplish the rendition and transmission of the program to the places where the audiences are assembled, consists principally of two distinct parts, a special transmitter used at the studio, which is put up in several different forms, some of which are shown in the accompanying illustrations, and a loud speaking receiver or reproducer, which is placed at the other end of the line. The transmitter is of such construction that the sibilant tones, such as U, S, R and Z, are distinctly reproduced at the receiving end of the circuit.
Intermediate between the transmitter and reproducer is place equipment by which the volume or loudness of the tone is regulated and use of the circuit controlled. This includes a switch, or rather push button, at the subscriber's station, by means of which the service may be turned on or cut off. The most important part of this auxiliary equipment consists of the amplifiers or repeaters, which are used when a large number of reproducers are served from one transmitter or when transmission is made over long distances. The use of the amplifier greatly increases the efficiency and scope of each transmitter and one repeater will serve between five and eight stations or reproducers. As something like 100 amplifiers can be used in connection with a messenger transmitter, it is seen that approximately 800 reproducers or stations can be furnished service from a single sending transmitter.
It is owing to this combination of amplifiers and reproducers that the service can be given in large halls or other assembly rooms. The reproducers are all connected in multiple, and sounds issuing from one reproducer do not interfere with those from another as all of the instruments operate in synchronism. In this connection it is interesting to know that satisfactory results have been obtained in a hall seating 7,000 persons with the use of but three reproducers. As illustrative of the distance over which the use of the instrument is effective, it is said that a message has been satisfactorily transmitted over a loaded artificial line, the equivalent of 900 miles, through the repeater and then into the reproducer.
As previously stated, the regular use of the telephone line used in connection with furnishing the varied service provided by this equipment, is not interfered with, for as soon as connection is made in the telephone exchange to the subscriber's line upon which the service is being given, the other equipment is automatically disconnected. When the subscriber desires to use the telephone, disconnection from the Musolaphone service, as it is called, is obtained by the operation of a push button installed at the telephone instrument.
Statistics show that of the total time telephone circuits could be used, they are in use only from 5 to 10 per cent. of a possible 100 per cent.; in other words, the wire telephone plant is idle from 90 to 95 per cent, of the time. Electric light companies in the earlier days only operated for a few hours during the night and such is the custom even now in many of the smaller towns. This was decidedly unsatisfactory both to the company officials and the public the former on account of the machinery, representing a large investment, being idle and non-revenue producing, and to the latter because of the limited service. Hence steps were taken to introduce a 24-hour service, that is, day and night service.
This was accomplished by a study of conditions with a view to extending the utility of electricity in these towns and localities. Thus a day power load was developed and now many small towns and all cities have day and night service. As a result of this development, the electric companies' equipments are now being operated on a basis tending towards the elimination of the low points in the load curves thus to derive the greatest revenue possible from the investment.
The operating condition of the plants of telephone companies is much the same as that of the power companies before their day loads were built up. Some telephone managers endeavored to decrease the enormous amount of idle equipment and turn it into a revenue producer by use of the so-called by-products, of which this music service is a prominent feature. As was the case with the electric plants, both the telephone user and the telephone company are gainers by this new use to which the idle plant equipment may be placed, now that the experimental stage has been passed and the apparatus is ready for commercial exploitation.
The use of the Musolaphone equipment is not limited to the lines of telephone companies, as it can be installed in connection with its own separate system of wiring and used for various purposes such as making announcements at baseball games, athletic meets and other assemblages in the open air or in buildings. As an instance of this use, may be mentioned the system installed at the White Sox Baseball Park, in Chicago, which is said to be the finest park of its kind in the world. It is used for making general announcements, paging patrons and providing concert programs before and after the games.
It would be useless to attempt enumerating the many diverse utilities, both in connection with the regular system and as separate installations, as every reader could think of many which were not mentioned.
In listening to the program furnished over the telephone lines, by this equipment, the listener may well allow his mind to revert to the prophecy made about 25 years ago in Edward Bellamy's book, "Looking Backward," which describes a program identical with such as now may be obtained by Chicago residents.
In Bellamy's words:
"Following my hostess into an apartment with a floor of polished wood, I was prepared for new devices in musical instruments. I saw, however, nothing in the room which by any stretch of imagination could be conceived as such.
Writers of fiction have frequently described the apparently impossible, but which in the course of time developed into actualities and this dream of Bellamy's has come to pass in much less time than the Utopian project of his imagination.
"A card bore the date 'Sept. 12, 2,000', and contained the longest program of music I had ever seen. It was as various as it was long, including a most extraordinary range of vocal and instrumental solos, duets, quartets, and various orchestral combinations. I observed the prodigious program was an all day one, divided into 24 sections, answering to the hours."
"The hour being 5 p. m. I selected a waltz under that hour. My hostess merely touched one or two screws and at once the room was filled with the music of a grand organ anthem; filled, not flooded for by some means the volume of melody had been perfectly graduated to the size of the apartment. I listened, scarcely breathing to the close.
"'There is nothing in the least mysterious about the music,' said my hostess. 'It is not made by fairies or genii, but by good, honest, and exceedingly clever human hands. We have simply carried the idea of labor saving by cooperation in our musical service as in everything else. There are a number of music rooms in the city perfectly adapted, acoustically, to the different sorts of music. These halls are connected by telephone with all the houses in the city whose people care to pay a small fee. Either one of the four pieces now going on, may be heard by merely pressing the buttom, which will connect your house wire with the hall, where it is being rendered."
"An hour or two later I again accompanied the hostess to the music room. We had not more than seated ourselves, when a tinkle of a bell was heard and a few moments after, the voice of a man, at the pitch of ordinary conversation, addressed us, with an effect of proceeding from an invisible person in the room."