The New York Times, December 11, 1921, page 31:
PREDICT AUDIENCES OF 50,000,000 SOON
Engineers Foresee Amplifiers Bearing President's Voice to Entire Nation.
IN ITS INFANCY, THEY SAY
Current From Arlington Was Multiplied 3,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 Times.
President Harding, who set a record for long-distance oratory on Armistice Day by addressing simultaneously three great throngs of more than 100,000 persons, gathered at Arlington National Cemetery, San Francisco and New York, may easily find himself talking to an audience running high into the millions and scattered through every State in the Union, before he leaves the White House.
Indeed, says R. W. King, one of the American Telephone and Telegraph engineers, whose work on the loud-speaking device made possible the ushering in of a new epoch in space annihilation at the ceremonies over the bier of America's Unknown Soldier, it is well within the range of possibility that President Harding may see the day when a President can sit at ease in the White House and talk at once to every city, town and hamlet in the United States that is tapped by telephone wires. An audience of 50,000,000 perhaps! Or 100,000,000!
They don't even blink at figures like that--these telephone company engineers. For ability to look, unabashed, into the faces of a column of ciphers, marching in threes across great open white spaces, is one of the prerequisites even to thinking about that marvelous contrivance, the electrical amplifier, of which the loud-speaking device is only one in a long list of practical applications.
Sees Nation as Audience.
For instance, the electrical current that carried President Harding's funeral oration to the crowds at Arlington, San Francisco and New York was multiplied 3,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 times before it rolled out, converted into great sonorous sound waves, over the heads at three audiences.
It took 3,000,000,000,000,000 amplifications to convey the oration and the other ceremonies to San Francisco so that they could have been heard through an ordinary telephone receiver. Then they had to be amplified a million million times by the loud-speaking device.
A mere ten-million billions -- 10,000,000,000,000,000 -- of amplifications were necessary to bring the ceremonies out clear and strong in New York. Ten thousand were used to bring the ceremonies here, and a million million to raise them to audibility for the New York audience. The other million million amplifications were used to carry the President's voice to the Arlington crowd.
By providing a few more scores of thousands of miles of wire, some thousands at loud-speaking devices and a few foolscap sheets filled with tiny ciphers indicating more amplifications, the entire country might hear future public ceremonies, Mr. King said.
It would be relatively simple, he declared, to set up equipment in the capitals at the forty-eight States through which 150,000 persons in each city--a total of 7,200,000--could hear a ceremony in Washington or elsewhere as distinctly as if they were seated within a few yards of the speaker.
A Rival of "Canned" Music.
"Canned" music, too, faces a potential rival in the loud speaker. It would be as simple to connect the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House up with the nation at large as to connect a President, once the equipment was set up. Telephone engineers say the Armistice Day experiment proved that music could be reproduced over the wire circuits at least as purely as it is reproduced on the best phonograph records and that it will be a matter of but a few years when the last vestige of metallic ring will be eliminated.
Mr. King believes it will be but a short time, too, until all the principal public halls and large university auditoriums are equipped at least with local loud speakers. These, he pointed out, could easily be switched in on long-distance circuits carrying public addresses and similar events from other cities.
While the loud-speaking device is a development of the last two years, the amplifier which made it possible has been in widespread use, piling up ciphers unseen an every long distance telephone line in the country, since the transcontinental circuits were opened in 1915. A long distance call from New York to San Francisco involves 400,000,000,000,000 amplifications. The number of amplifications necessary between any two points depends not only upon the distance but upon the nature of the circuit.
But the principle at the amplifier is not limited to telephonic use. It is a fundamental of radio and wire telegraphy, of radio telephoning, of all long-distance electrical signaling. It was the amplifier that picked up during the war the water vibrations caused by enemy submarines and translated them into sounds by which commanders of allied warships were able to locate the hidden foe.
It made possible the "fog line" in New York Harbor--that magnetized cable leading up the channel, which properly equipped vessels can follow in the thickest fog. Recently it brought the first music many of them ever heard to a New York audience of persons of defective hearing. Physicians use it to study the beating of the human heart. These are some of it scores of uses.
"And the amplifier is still in its infancy," says Mr. King.