Thrilling Days of Trial and Error in the True Pioneer Wireless Times--A Ten-Kilowatt Set that Sent Four Miles--Thrills for the Natives at the St. Louis World's Fair--Twenty Years of Wireless in Retrospect
At least that is what almost everyone thought of Dr. Lee De Forest back in those early pioneer days, more than twenty years ago. Then, you could easily count all the men in the country who even pretended to know anything about wireless. No one of the few who were working with wireless then, knew whether a set carefully put together would work at all, and how far the signals could be heard was nothing but a guess. Transmissions of a hundred miles or more were hailed as remarkable. Present-day radio listeners are quite prone to think of radio as nothing more than telephonic broadcasting. But before the wireless telephone, came tremendous amounts of hard, sometimes discouraging, but always fascinating and essentially romantic work. Dr. De Forest is one of those pioneers. Mr. Butler's memories of the early days are mightily worth reading, since he not only saw the early wireless drama, but himself acted in it.--THE EDITOR.
|EAGER CROWDS SEE|
|MESSAGES FLASH FROM|
Flashing messages through space from the Fair to the office of the Post-Dispatch continues to be the wonder of Fair visitors and crowds watch the process from morning until night.
The flash of 20,000 volts every time the operator presses his key is to them a thing of fascination. Then they turn from it to look from the great De Forest tower out eastward across the large city, but they see no sign of the message which the clicking instrument is sending out there through space.
Sometimes they stop the operator at his work to ask him if it is really so. They shake their heads in amazement when he answers yes, and explains that in the Post-Dispatch office another instrument is ticking in response to his, and thus carrying Fair news to the newspaper and the world. The loud
|buzzing of the powerful instrument surrounding the operator 200 feet above the ground in the De Forest tower does not prevent the visitors from crowding about him.
It is so loud that the operator must keep his ears full of cotton. It fairly deafens visitors and sending them away with a headache if they stay too long, but nevertheless they stay, for the power of the mystery is very great.
This buzzing is caused by the powerful electric spark which the operator's key releases and corresponds to the click of the ordinary wire telegraph instrument. The dots and dashes are so audible that operators for telegraph companies and the police and fire departments anywhere within two blocks of the wireless tower amuse themselves with reading the wireless messages as they are buzzed off by the sending operator.
--Published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch during 3rd Week of June, 1904.