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History of Communications-Electronics in the United States Navy, Captain Linwood S. Howeth, USN (Retired), 1963, pages 37-49:
The Unhurried Search for Radio Equipment
1. WATCHFUL WAITING
After rejecting the monopolistic tenders of the Marconi interests, the Navy decided to study the situation carefully, prior to making a decision, believing that a policy of watchful waiting would prove more beneficial in the long run and that the time lost would be regained by the eventual acquisition of improved equipment. Two years were spent in this manner.
2. ORGANIZATION OF EARLY U.S. RADIO COMPANIES
During this time, several American scientists and engineers began endeavors to develop equipment, which they hoped would not infringe the patents of Marconi, and companies were organized to exploit their work. As previously mentioned, W. J. Clarke had already demonstrated equipment to the U.S. Lighthouse Board.1 The American Wireless Telephone & Telegraph Co.2 was incorporated in September 1899 and thereby earned the distinction of being the first radio firm in the United States. This company was organized by a clique of promoters in Philadelphia, Pa., headed by Dr. G. P. Gehring, a broker of questionable real estate and gold mines. His first move was to obtain control of some patents taken out 15 years earlier by Professor Dolbear, which had been forgotten but were revived by the increased interest in radio. Subsidiary firms were incorporated in the areas in which they purported establishing radio-telegraph circuits. To provide the promoters with a veil of honesty, these firms were officered by prominent and honest personages living in the area covered by each. Gehring's primary interest in radio was its exploitation for stock-promotion purposes.3 The Dolbear patents were soon discarded in favor of equipment developed by Prof. Harry Shoemaker and Mr. John Greenleaf Pickard, the capable and honest engineers of the corporation.4 Had Gehring and his associates endeavored to sell this equipment, instead of worthless stock, the company might have developed into an important factor in the radio field.
At the time Marconi was getting firmly established in the radio field, Mr. Lee De Forest was an undergraduate student of Yale University. Following completion of his undergraduate work, he entered the Sheffield Scientific School of that university. In 1899, he received his doctorate, after the submission of his thesis, "Reflection of Hertzian Waves From the Ends of Parallel Wires." With his graduate work completed, he straightway entered the radio field, where his work would, in future years, have considerable effect upon the radio industry of this country and still greater effect upon the electronics industry. Unfortunately, he was almost entirely devoid of business acumen and soon fell into the hands of unscrupulous associates, whose actions, to a large extent, nullified his efforts. Moreover, his own business ethics could be questioned, a fact which further nullified the effects of his work. In 1901, with $1,000 in capital, he formed a partnership with Mr. Edward Smythe and Prof. Clarence Freeman. De Forest and Smythe developed a responder to take the place of the coherer used by Marconi. Freeman produced a transmitter. In this same year they obtained a contract with the Publisher's Press Association to provide radio reports of the 1901 international yacht races. De Forest proceeded to New York and worked feverishly in preparing the equipment to report the races. While in the process of accomplishing this, he became acquainted with Col. John Firth who, in future years, was to exert great influence in American radio circles. Firth became quite interested in De Forest's activities and was able to interest four other promoters in investing $500 each, to form the Wireless Telegraph Co. of America, capitalized at $3,000. Freeman, Smythe, and De Forest were allotted $500 worth of stock in the company and applied for patents covering their equipment.
3. THE INTERNATIONAL YACHT RACES CREATE A RADIO FIASCO
In addition to the De Forest contract with the Publishers' Press Association for the reporting of international yacht races, Marconi was reporting for the Associated Press, as was another concern without sponsorship, the previously mentioned American Wireless Telephone & Telegraph Co. De Forest's contract provided for the payment of $800, if the results proved satisfactory. So unprepared was he for the competition that, had it not been for the long postponement of the races caused by the assassination of President McKinley, he would not have had his apparatus ready.
During the contest both the Marconi and De Forest mobile stations noticed their shore units signaling frantically with flags asking, "What is the matter? Signals confused. Cannot read." De Forest tried to improve his transmissions, and, seeing no more signaling, gained the impression he was getting through satisfactorily. When his tug docked he expected to be overwhelmed with congratulations, feeling he had made a great showing against his competitors. However, the event had produced three losers, Lipton's Shamrock II, Marconi, and De Forest. The American Wireless Telephone & Telegraph Co., having no sponsor, had nothing to lose and everything to gain by preventing the reception of their competitors' transmissions.5 The simultaneous broadband transmissions of the spark sets simply jumbled each other into both illegibility and incoherency.
The failures of the race-reporting efforts of the Marconi and De Forest interests proved of great value to others and, by experience, even to the losers. Shoemaker, who had developed the American Wireless Telephone & Telegraph Co. equipment, was catapulted into prominence in the radio world. The Navy, later, would find considerable use for his equipment.6
4. THE NAVY'S POSITION, 1901
The Navy's position during this period is best described in the 1901 Annual Report of the Secretary of the Navy:
At the request of the Bureau, the Department in April last ordered a board for the purpose of considering and reporting upon the advisability of discontinuing the homing-pigeon service used for the transmission of messages from distant points and substituting in lieu thereof some system of wireless telegraphy. After various changes in its membership the board reported in May to the effect that the homing-pigeon service should be discontinued as soon as some system of wireless telegraphy is adopted. In the opinion of the Bureau the pigeon service should be discontinued at once, since it does not appear to be of any practical use at present, nor has it in the past developed any great promise of success in naval operations.
The Secretary's report went on to note that the Marconi apparatus had been improved considerably over the past year, but that while claims had been made that the difficulty of "interference" could be overcome, the Bureau was not aware of any positive exhibition or demonstration of this. One of the practical improvements reported was the grounding of the antenna circuit through the primary of an induction coil. The report also mentioned that communications had been successfully conducted between British warships, up to a distance of 160 miles.
The board above mentioned did not in its researches include any practical tests of the various systems of wireless telegraphy used in this country. The Bureau has taken the matter up and investigations are now in progress with a view of carefully ascertaining the exact condition of the many systems of wireless telegraphy more or less used or recommended.
An officer of the Bureau recently witnessed the efforts of various press companies to report by means of wireless telegraphy the progress of the international yacht races. The systems in use for that purpose were those of the Marconi Company, the American Wireless Telegraph Company (De Forest system), and the American Wireless Telegraph and Telephone Company. It was clearly shown during the races that the difficulties of "interference" could not be overcome with the apparatus used by the above-mentioned companies. When there was no interference, however, generally speaking, the appliances of all companies worked successfully.
It was observed that the New York Herald had installed Marconi equipment on board the Government lightship anchored off New South Shoals, for the purpose of reporting arrivals of transatlantic steamers. Near the village of Seasconset on Nantucket Island, a smaller installation had been established to relay the messages received from the lightship. With several of the major transatlantic steamers having installed Marconi sets, that system was attracting the attention of the commercial world. Lloyds, failing in attempts to develop a practical system of its own, found Marconi equipment best suited for its needs and had contracted for its use.
Continuing, it stated:
Most of the principal naval powers have adopted some form of wireless telegraphy for their ships. Great Britain and Italy use the Marconi system; Germany the Slaby system, and France and Russia the Ducretet system. It is believed, however, from the reports received, that none are satisfactory.
In conclusion, the Bureau did not deem it advisable to adopt any particular system at the time or to acquire any more radio apparatus than was needed for purposes of instruction. It was obvious that no system had advanced beyond the experimental stage.
Claims of superiority are made for certain features adopted by some of the American wireless companies. For example, the De Forest system includes the use of a motor generator for transmission, by the aid of which it is expected to obtain a mechanical tuning between the sending and receiving stations and thus avoid interference. It is not believed that this mechanism has passed beyond the experimental stage. Experiments in the same field, for the same purpose are being conducted by Mr. Nikola Tesla, and the results are awaited with much interest.
5. REAPPRAISAL AND STUDY OF THE SITUATION
Sometime during the fall of 1901, the Navy Department reached a decision to study the situation and, if results warranted it, to conduct tests of available equipment.7 It did not appear that any American firm had succeeded in the development of apparatus fitted to the Navy's needs. There seemed to be few basic improvements in Marconi's equipment and, moreover, his firms held steadfast to their leasing policy. These factors made it necessary that a study of the apparatus of other European manufacturers be conducted, and Comdr. Francis Morgan Barber, USN (retired),8 then residing in Paris, was called to active duty on 1 October 1901, for the purpose of studying and making a report on European radiotelegraph apparatus and methods of operating.9
Following the issuance of the orders to Barber, questions arose as to the propriety of ordering him to this assignment, it being possible that it was not in accordance with the spirit of the reciprocity arrangement governing information exchanged with foreign countries. The Office of Naval Intelligence considered that the U.S. naval attaches could better pursue the matter, and that such activities were one of their functions. It was further opined that the detailing of another officer to conduct such work would diminish the influence of the naval attaches in the countries to which they were accredited. It was stressed that the acquirement of knowledge of radiotelegraphy by officers on the active list would be of greater value to the service than by a retired officer.10 Despite the objections, the nominee of the Bureau of Equipment was deemed to have the best qualifications for the duty and, moreover, could devote his full and undivided attention to the project. Secretary of the Navy John D. Long adhered to his original decision and requested the State Department to issue Barber a special passport11 to permit him to travel in connection with radio investigations and to provide him with a letter of introduction to the diplomatic and consular officers of the United States throughout Europe.12
Barber assumed his duty with zeal and efficiency, but in spite of his enthusiasm he encountered numerous obstacles. Misunderstanding concerning the nature and scope of his mission often resulted in a lack of cooperation by U.S. officials abroad.13
In his first reports dated 4 and 6 December 1901, he outlined the existing state of radiotelegraphy in Europe. He stated that all the continental navies maintained a high degree of secrecy concerning the results of their experiments and in his opinion it was a lack of definite accomplishments, rather than successes, which they were attempting to hide from each other. He felt that for maritime purposes radio was invaluable, in spite of its defects, and he believed the U.S. Navy was the only one in the world that was not hard at work on it. He recommended that the Navy should cease wasting time in determining which apparatus to purchase. In carrying out his recommendation he suggested the Navy Department should:
Obtain a special appropriation from Congress for the investigation of equipment;
Appoint a board of officers on the active list for a study of equipment;
Establish two experimental stations--one between Newport and Montauk and the other between Key West and Tortugas in order that the behavior of the electrical waves where there is a change of seasons may be compared with their behavior where there is always warm weather so that when a vessel fits out at New York it will be already known what adjustments or additions are necessary to hear wireless telegraphic apparatus if she is to go into the tropics. Hot weather does make a difference, and,
Buy two complete sets of apparatus from Marconi, Ducretet-Popoff, Rochefort, Slaby-Arco and Braun-Siemens and such other instruments as the Naval Attachés or myself may from time to time discover and recommend. These purchases will doubtless represent the very best that the foreign navies are using for the reason that each manufacturer will know that he is practically going into competition and being protected by patents he can hope to win a large order for a part or all of his kind of instrument. But he can only hope to win if he furnishes what he knows is the very best and that is certain to be similar in effect to what the Navy of his country is using. I doubt if any nation has the necessary plant at its navy-yards or elsewhere to make its own electrical apparatus unless it be some small matter involving a cipher code which is not what we are after anyway. A practical business connection being thus formed with all these manufacturers, I think there will be little difficulty in keeping touch.14
6. PURCHASE OF EUROPEAN EQUIPMENT FOR TESTS
Based upon his studies, investigations, and recommendation the Navy Department decided to purchase, for the purpose of conducting comparative tests, two sets each, from four European companies: Slaby-Arco, Braun-Siemens-Halske, Ducretet, and Rochefort. The first two were German companies; the last two, French. In January 1902 he was authorized to arrange terms for the purchase of the above sets, complete with spare parts.15 Allgemeine Elektricitats-Gesellschaft (Slaby-Arco) quoted prices on its types A, B, and C sets at M5,000, M6,000, and M7,000, respectively.16 The type A was guaranteed for sea distances up to 31 miles. Type B, which was in use by the German Navy, was guaranteed for distances up to 62 nautical miles, while type C was guaranteed for 74 nautical miles.17 The Bureau had specifically instructed Barber that "it is desired to duplicate, as nearly as possible, the apparatus usually supplied German warships."18
During the course of the negotiations, the Slaby-Arco firm attempted to increase the price of the type B sets from M6,000 to M7,000 and, in addition, endeavored to make it a condition of the sale that the Navy bear the trip and per diem expenses of two of its men to the United States in lieu of one, as originally planned.19 This, according to the firm's manager, was for the purpose of insuring the complete success of the installations. Informing the Chief of the Bureau of Equipment of this, Barber commented, "The amount of information that can be gathered from experts like that on the ground cannot be overestimated," but he added that the practical thing to do was to demand that the firm stick to its original price, and that the Navy offer to pay only the expense of one engineer.20
The Bureau's reply to Barber was emphatic,
Please inform the Allegemeine Elektricitats-Gesellschaft that the Bureau expects the fulfillment of its orders as originally placed and at the prices quoted when the orders were placed. If they are not prepared to do this the Bureau will consider their letter to you of April 2, 1902, as a cancellation by them of this contract.21
Faced with the possibility of the cancellation of their contract, the company quickly acceded to the Navy's demands and, as further assurance, provided their engineers without charge.
While negotiating with Ducretet for the purchase of two sets of his equipment, for which the Navy paid $2,614.37, Barber asked him, "In case the services of an expert are required to proceed to the United States and install the apparatus, what would be the total cost of his employment?" M. Ducretet replied, in his conditions regarding the sales of his apparatus, "It will suffice to your Government to send me one or two intelligent men. They will be instructed in these apparati for wireless telegraphy in our laboratory--that will suffice. Many governments have already done this."22
Two sets were purchased each from Braun-Siemens-Halske and Rochefort for $3,470.04 and $2,285.30, respectively.23
Following the decision to purchase eight sets of European radio equipment, the Chief of the Bureau of Equipment took steps to carry out the third of Barber's recommendations.24 While the fleet was adequately supplied with signalmen well versed in wigwag and in the operation of Ardois night lights, and with able electricians, the problems involved in the care and operation of radio equipment were more complicated. Admiral Bradford informed the Secretary of the Navy in February 1902 that it would be necessary to employ at each station a competent person to act as operator and instructor, who should be an educated electrician, skilled in the care and adjustment of delicate electrical apparatus.25 Since there were no stations or laboratories in this country where persons could be instructed in the special care and adjustment of the sets of the particular types of apparatus the Navy was purchasing, it was suggested that a team consisting of one officer, not above the rank of lieutenant, and two enlisted men be sent abroad for instruction in the care and adjustment of the sets. He brought out that this was the practice followed by foreign governments. The two enlisted men would ultimately be ordered in charge of the test stations to be established at the Washington Navy Yard and at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md. It was also suggested that a special rating be created for radio operators, and that this rating be granted only after careful training and demonstration of competence at one of the testing stations.26
7. BASIC TRAINING OF NAVAL PERSONNEL IN MAINTENANCE AND OPERATIONS OF EUROPEAN EQUIPMENT
The Secretary approved the recommendations of the Bureau Chief. Lt. J. M. Hudgins, USN,27 and two chief electrician's mates, James H. Bell and William C. Bean,28 were ordered to Paris to report to Barber for duty, in connection with witnessing tests of wireless telegraph apparatus, and for making detailed study of this apparatus, especially the four systems which had been purchased by the Navy Department for competitive tests.29 The knowledge and experience so gained was to prove of great value in installing the apparatus for testing purposes and in instructing Navy personnel in its use, care, and maintenance.30
On 2 May 1901, Hudgins and his two students sailed for Europe on the SS Fuerst Bismarck and arrived on 9 May, in Paris where Barber took the trio in charge. Barber's functions at this stage were mostly of a diplomatic nature. Hudgins was the engineering head of the group. The first months the men devoted their time to studies of the Rochefort and Ducretet equipments. Hudgins was occupied in obtaining information concerning other French makes of radio apparatus and its use in the French Navy. In this quest he was handicapped by "In Defence Nationale." All the data he obtained relative to its military use was necessarily gleaned from outside sources.31 The French Government, at that time, exercised strict control over all individuals engaged in long-distance radio experiments.32 This was quite a contrast to the situation then existing in the United States, where our Government found itself unable to prevent the establishment of foreign-controlled stations.
On the advice of Barber, Hudgins left his two assistants studying under Messrs. Rochefort and Ducretet, while he witnessed tests being carried out by M. Popp, president of the Compagnie General Telegraphie et Telephonie Sans Fil, between two stations, one of which was on the steam yacht Lysistrata, owned by Mr. James Gordon Bennett, who had made it available to the U.S. Navy to conduct experiments with new Branly apparatus.33 The other station, first located on shore, was later transferred to USS Nashville, then at Villefranche. These tests were to compare Professor Branly's new "tres-piede" detector with the coherer in order to determine which was the superior. With a Ducretet set at one station, first ashore, and then on Nashville, and a Rochefort on the Lysistrata, the new Branly device was used as an alternative detector at either end. The information gathered from these tests was negative in character, with numerous mishaps disclosing the extreme care necessary in installing and operating the equipment, and the unfitness of the "tres-piede" detector for use on board ship or other unsteady platforms.34
The team moved to Berlin on 7 June and began studies of the Braun-Siemens-Halske and the Slaby-Arco equipments. The Slaby-Arco Co. had three outlying receiving stations in addition to the transmitting unit at the plant, and it was with these that the Navy team received its introduction to effective German wireless. Entering upon an intensive study of the Slaby-Arco transmitter and receiver, they gained a complete knowledge of the mechanical construction and a thorough insight into the adjustment of receiver, coherer, and relay. From copying nearby German Army stations, which used Slaby-Arco equipment, as did also the German Navy, they developed "coherer technique." They concluded there was little difference between the German sets, which they considered superior in design and construction to the French.35
Hudgins found the German naval personnel far more cooperative than the French and reported,
I wish to refer to the courtesy of the German Navy Department in granting me permission to inspect the station on board the German man-of-war Neptun at Kiel, and also the courtesy of the officers of the Neptun in explaining fully the working of wireless telegraph apparatus in the German Navy.36
From Germany the trio moved to England, where it spent the period 6 through 16 July examining Marconi devices manufactured at Chelmsford and the installations there, and at Frinton-on-Sea, and at North Forelands. At the Marconi Chelmsford factory they were restricted in their observations, being shown only the masts and the outsides of the buildings. They were not permitted to see the Poldhu station, it being explained to them that the British Admiralty had issued such orders. In reference to this visit Bean said, "The Marconi people didn't seem to want to let us see anything," and "They seemed to feel that we were spying."37 They obtained data from other manufacturers and experimenters, including the Lodge-Muirhead firm at Elms in Kent, where they were treated courteously and were willingly shown apparatus developed by Sir Oliver Lodge and Dr. Muirhead, of London. The principal novelty of the Lodge-Muirhead equipment was a coherer consisting of a very thin, clockwork-driven disk of hard steel, about one-half inch in diameter, revolving in contact with mercury. Hudgins purchased one of these detectors and brought it back to this country. The products of the Hozier Braun people and Mr. H. W. Sullivan were also inspected. Sullivan, at that time, was manufacturing radio apparatus for the Admiralty, based upon designs of Captain Jackson, Royal Navy. This equipment closely resembled that made by the British Marconi Co.38
8. COMMENTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS CONCERNING EUROPEAN EQUIPMENTS
On 7 August 1902, Hudgins submitted the final report of his trip to the Chief of the Bureau of Equipment. In this he listed, in order of merit and adaptability to naval service: Marconi, Braun-Siemens-Halske, Slaby-Arco, Rochefort, and Ducretet.39 He attributed superiority of the Marconi installations over the German makes as being due to the greater skill and experience of the engineers in installing and operating the apparatus itself and the use of better tuning devices.40
He went on to note that the Braun sets could be tuned much sharper than the Slaby-Arco and Marconi, but the frequency could not be easily changed in either the transmitter or the receiver. The Slaby-Arco equipment was superior to the Braun for distance. Neither of the French systems were tunable. He felt that, while some of the apparatus was good in design, it appeared rather clumsy, as did most of the devices inspected. In discussing this matter later, Hudgins was of the opinion that the French, in trying to give their equipment an artistic appearance, had succeeded only in making it look fantastic, while the Germans, who stressed efficient design and fine mechanical construction, failed in the artistic touch. The Americans favored a combination of the French flair for the esthetic with the skill of German engineering.41
In all the installations and tests witnessed abroad, Hudgins was forced to the conclusion that the published reports on European radiotelegraph apparatus were willfully misleading, with no experimenter publishing anything but his best results. He found no apparatus which worked in an entirely satisfactory manner, there being always interference, lack of adjustment, or some fault either in the transmitter or receiver which rendered accurate reception of a message difficult or doubtful. Four or five repetitions of transmissions were not unusual.42
9. FURTHER CONTROVERSY WITH MARCONI INTERESTS
While Hudgins was visiting their plant in England, the disagreement between the Marconi interests and the U.S. Navy flared anew. This developed in connection with statements attributed to Barber and published in the New York Herald of 18 June 1902:
There will be no tests of the Marconi system because we have been unable to make terms with the Company. They demand a royalty of $500 a year for every instrument while other companies make no excessive demands. It is not improbable that wireless communication may form the basis of an international trust. There is a company now forming, the purpose of which, I am told, is to obtain rights to erect stations and conduct wireless telegraphy on a commercial basis. As for the claim that Mr. Marconi or any other inventor can demand exclusive privileges through patent rights, I do not believe any monopoly can be secured by infringement suits or similar procedure.
Three days later the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Co. of America wrote Barber calling him to task for his statements. The closing paragraph of this letter asked him to make amends:
We trust, therefore, that in justice to this Company you will, in case you have been misrepresented, deny the accuracy of the interview, demand that the statement you made, if any, be correctly published in the New York Herald and its Paris edition, and protest against being made, as you have undoubtedly been made, the medium of interested attacks upon the Marconi system.43
In a letter to the Editor of the Herald, which appeared in its 21 June issue, the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Co. of America stated that Barber was "imperfectly and curiously informed," as, under date of 22 May, Admiral Bradford, in charge of such experiments, had specifically invited the Marconi Co. of America to participate in this trial, stating, "The Bureau would be pleased to have sets of your apparatus submitted for test." It then went on to attack Barber's purported statement, asking in what respect he believed that sustained patents on wireless telegraphy differed from patents in telephony, or type-setting, or any other field of industry? It maintained that Marconi held the basic patents and that his priorities were beyond question, and that, if the owners of the "so-called Slaby-Arco and Braun systems" offered the opportunity, they would be sued for infringement. They closed with "Why, may we ask, should Marconi be defrauded of his rights?"44
Barber, in reply, said he had been misquoted, his statement being that he had indicated that he had not been ordered to buy any Marconi apparatus since the Bureau was dealing directly with the Marconi Co. Referring to the question of patents he said, he did not specify Marconi patents as being worthless, but rather that he thought wireless telegraphy patents were only good when they pertained to specific apparatus for producing certain results and that "Wireless Telegraphy as a whole system was unpatentable--Every child knows this." 45
The Chief of the Bureau of Equipment did, as stated, invite the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Co. of America to participate in the forthcoming comparative tests. In July the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Co. of America informed him that two complete wireless sets were ready for delivery to the Navy, for tests between two vessels or land stations, but expressed regrets that the Company could not comply with the Bureau's wishes of selling them outright for the purposes of the proposed competitive tests, nor could they quote the cost of 10 or more of its units prior to completion of the tests.46
The Secretary of the Navy's annual report for the fiscal year 1902 contains the following comment:
The Bureau regrets that it has been unable to reach any satisfactory agreement with the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Co., for the purchase of its appliances should it be desired after testing same. The Company has offered a duplicate set for test to be returned after the trials have been completed. This Company requires, however, the payment of a given sum for each set upon delivery and a royalty for each year during the life of the patent. The aggregate cost of a set under such an agreement would be very great. In addition, it is illegal to obligate the payment of money beyond a single fiscal year. The Bureau regrets that it has been unable to reach a satisfactory basis for the possible acquisition of appliances which have such a good reputation as those of the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Co. It appears from this letter that the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Co., of America, which the Bureau is reliably informed is controlled in London, objects to the Department acquiring other wireless telegraph appliances than its own, and yet refuses to supply the latter except under terms which are illegal and of great disadvantage to the Government.47
10. TESTS OF AMERICAN MANUFACTURED EQUIPMENT
The Wireless Telegraph Co. of America, which had been organized in 1901 to exploit the developments of De Forest, was short lived. Firth, one of the original stockholders of this company, innocently interested a very personable and extraordinarily lucky stock promoter, Schwartz, alias Abraham White, in the De Forest system. This unscrupulous gambler, with his magnetic enthusiasm, was to exert a profound and unfortunate effect upon the future of the young scientist and upon the development of the radio industry. By February 1902, White had organized the De Forest Wireless Telegraph Co., incorporated in Maine with a capitalization of $3 million;48 the nucleus of which was the original De Forest firm. Freeman and Smythe were not included in this new organization. Freeman's "sending apparatus" did not amount to much, said De Forest, and, as for the "responder," he felt it was more his invention than Smythe's49 As vice president and scientific director of the new corporation, De Forest received a sizable block of stock and a salary of $20 a week, "more than he had ever earned before."50 De Forest became hypnotized by White's dreams of "worldwide wireless", and the rosy picture he painted of the potentialities of the medium.51
Far from being an entrepreneur in the true sense, White's ideas were exactly the same as those of promoter Gehring; to sell as much stock as possible to the public, regardless of its value, and to reap the maximum personal benefit. White had a moneymaking instinct and the ambition to make a fortune. The success of the Gehring organization in selling large issues of their radio stock convinced him that a $3 million company was too small, so, emulating Gehring, White formed the $15 million American De Forest Co. The new company did not absorb the old one. White simply rented it for $500 per annum, thereby rendering its stock worthless.52 De Forest was also a vice president and the scientific director of this new company, and received a sizable, nonnegotiable block of stock. He was sincere in his efforts and endeavored to improve the equipment and had no connection with the stock-promotion enterprise. The Navy, in the middle of 1902, contracted with the American De Forest Co. for two sets of equipment for comparative testing. These were delivered in December of that year.
In 1902, two honest Pittsburgh entrepreneurs, Messrs. Hay Walker and Thomas Given, established the National Electric Signaling Co. This firm was formed to support the work of the irascible Prof. Reginald Fessenden, who, with original ideas, had made considerable progress in the development of radio equipment while in the employ of the U.S. Weather Bureau. Walker and Given were not interested in the manufacture or sale of radio equipment nor in establishing a communication network, but hoped to develop a system which could be sold as a package to an operating company.53 On 16 August 1902, the Bureau of Equipment requested bids for two sets of equipment from Queen & Co., Philadelphia, Pa., a firm which was purported to be the manufacturer of Fessenden apparatus. Four days later they replied they would provide prices, guarantees, and dates of delivery within a few days. They failed to follow this letter with further action.54
The Consolidated Wireless Co., whose engineer, Shoemaker, had developed the equipment which had so successfully interfered with the reception of the Marconi and De Forest transmissions during the 1901 international yacht races, was provided with a contract for two receivers. For reasons unknown, they did not desire to provide transmitters.
Nikola Tesla, who claimed his apparatus was equal to and perhaps superior to Marconi's,55 was also asked to submit prices for two sets, but he did not do so.
There were other reliable firms started during 1902, but they were small and lacked sufficient publicity to bring them to the attention of the Bureau of Equipment. Two of these, which would later provide good equipment to the Navy, were the Stone Telephone & Telegraph Co., Boston, Mass. and the Massie Wireless Telegraph Co., Providence, R. I.
Due to the efforts of the Chief of the Bureau of Equipment, twelve radio equipments of 6 different manufacturers, 4 European and 2 American, were ready for comparative tests prior to the end of 1902.56
1 Clarke's equipment never gained favor.
2 This firm was incorporated with a capital of $5 million, and was the parent organization of a group of operating companies, covering the entire Nation, total capitalization of which was planned to exceed $50 million.
3 Frank Fayant, "The Wireless Telegraph Bubble," Success magazine, vol. X, No. 157, June 1907, p. 388.
4 "Radioana," SRM 5-543, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass.
5 There is an account that the true culprit in this fiasco was American Wireless Telephone & Telegraph Co., which, upon failing in its efforts to get the press associations to make use of their apparatus in the 1901 yacht races, set up a very powerful station near the Navesink Highlands. Throughout the races they sent out so powerful a stream of electric disturbances that they produced the results previously noted in the Marconi and De Forest reception. Pickard maintains that the Gehring interests did report these races, saying "And when I say 'reported,' I mean reported and not what the Marconi and De Forest people call reporting; namely, manufactured news that had no basis of fact whatever." He stated that the Gehring group used a plain aerial, 20-inch Queens coil, and a tulip interrupter minus all weights, so that spark frequency was quite high. They put as much current in the primary as their interrupter would stand and, in so doing, radiated considerable energy, their damping coefficient being about 400. Their receiving station was located at Galilee and used aural reception as did De Forest. That, incidentally, gave them an advantage over Marconi with his coherer and inker. Pickard claimed that on the trip down to the race area a bright idea came to him as to the modus operandi to be employed to prevent Marconi and De Forest from receiving the transmissions. He happened to have a newspaper at hand, in which one page had been folded over in printing, so that a large-type headline was superimposed over the fine print of the text. He noted that the small type was almost unreadable but that the headline was undamaged. This gave birth to his idea. Why not use large type--namely long dashes many seconds in duration to smear the small-type ordinary dots and dashes of the competitors? Pickard proceeded to work up a code, which, he said, "was simplicity itself." As an example, one long dash of 10 seconds would mean Columbia was ahead; two such dashes would indicate Shamrock was in the lead; three, they were neck and neck. Following the first series would come other long dashes from one to nine, identified in the code as conveying common actions taking place. Thus equipped, they were able to get their signals through and interfere with the others. "Marconi and De Forest didn't have a ghost of a chance and our clever rewrite men made up a nice long story from our coded simple instructions." Strange as it may seem, they received instructions from Galilee sometime later to split time with Marconi, an order considered cowardly by Pickard. Contacting the Mindora, the Associated Press boat, with the Marconi so-called apparatus on board as Pickard put it, a liaison was arranged. In relating this incident, the professor tells of his encounter with the president of the Associated Press, "When some hundred feet away, none other than Melville Stone came on deck with a megaphone and began to berate us. For fully 10 minutes he cussed us, not repeating one word twice, and would probably be cussing us yet if I had not gone below, gotten an egg, and by a lucky throw applied it to him via his megaphone. Incidentally, he stopped cussing, and at the same time the negotiation stopped." In relating what he called "The final incident of the race 'reporting,' " Pickard said, "When the yachts crossed the finish line, we held down the key and then continued to hold it down, by the simple method of putting a weight on it. Thus, radiating waves, far from practically continuous, though continuous in our sense of the word, we sailed for our home port, and the batteries lasted for the entire hour and a quarter that we utilized to send the longest dash ever sent by wireless." Following the races, Pickard returned home via Navesink, where the lighthousekeeper showed him around and said, "Oh, by the way, we had wireless telegraphy here the other day. The Marconi men were here with a little black box like a stock ticker, and paper came out of it with long black lines running down the middle of it. Every few minutes the operator would pick up this tape, look at a few feet of it, swear unholily, tear the tape off, and jump on it." Of this Pickard stated, "This was the best appreciation of efforts that I ever received." "Radioana," op. cit., SRM 5-543).
6 "Radioana," op. cit., SRM 5-737, p. 2 (Col. John Firth, "The Story of My Life," unpub. mss., n.d.).
7 Letter, dated 9 Dec. 1901, Chief of the Bureau of Equipment to the Secretary of the Navy, files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.; memorandum, dated 4 Jan. 1902, Chief of the Bureau of Equipment to the Chief of the Bureau of Construction and Repair, files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.; Letter, dated 27 Jan. 1902, Chief of the Bureau of Equipment to Commandant, Navy Yard, Washington, D.C., files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
8 Francis Morgan Barber was born in Pennsylvania, appointed to U.S. Naval Academy from Ohio, graduated in 1865. He was a classmate of Bradford. In 1895, he was retired at his own request because of poor health. Following retirement he took up residence abroad. Fluent in French and German, and with a good command of other languages, he had served as naval attaché to various countries and was acquainted with many top government officials of those countries. He was independently wealthy, extremely well poised, dignified, and learned in many ways. At the time of his recall to duty he was living quietly in Paris and was about 55 years of age. Following his release from active duty he was promoted to the rank of captain on the retired list. He died in New York City on 30 Jan. 1922.
9 Letter, dated 1 Oct. 1901, the Secretary of the Navy to Comdr. Francis M. Barber, USN (retired), files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
10 Memorandum, dated 7 Mar. 1902, Office of Naval Intelligence to the Chief of the Bureau of Navigation, files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
11 Letter, dated 29 Oct. 1901, the Secretary of State to the Secretary of the Navy, files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
12 Letter, dated 4 Nov. 1901, the Secretary of the Navy to Comdr. F. M. Barber, USN (retired), files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
13 Letters, dated 10 Jan., 17 June, 20 June, and 11 July 1902; Comdr. F. M. Barber USN (retired), to the Chief of the Bureau of Equipment, files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
14 Letters, dated 4 and 6 Dec. 1901, Comdr. F. M. Barber, USN (retired), to the Chief of the Bureau of Equipment, files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
15 Letter, dated 13 Jan. 1902, Chief of the Bureau of Equipment to Comdr. F. M. Barber, USN (retired), files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
16 At this time the German mark was equivalent to $0.238.
17 Specifications, dated 16 Jan. 1902, the Allegemeine Elektricitats-Gesellschaft, Berlin, on various types of radio apparatus.
18 Letter, dated 11 Mar. 1902, Chief of the Bureau of Equipment to Comdr. F. M. Barber, USN (retired), files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
19 Letters, dated 3 and 6 Apr. 1902, Comdr. F. M. Barber, USN (retired), to the Chief of the Bureau of Equipment, files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
20 Letter, dated Apr. 1902, Comdr. F. M. Barber, USN (retired), to the Chief of the Bureau of Equipment, files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
21 Letter, dated 19 Apr. 1902, the Chief of the Bureau of Equipment to Comdr. F. M. Barber, USN (retired), files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
22 Letter, n.d., E. Ducretet to Comdr. F. M. Barber, USN (retired), files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
23 Letters, dated 30 Jan., 14 Mar., 19 Mar., and 14 Apr., 1902, F. M. Barber, USN (retired), to the Chief of the Bureau of Equipment, files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.; letters, dated and 17 Feb. 1902, Chief of the Bureau of Equipment to the Chief of the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts, files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
24 Supra, 4sec5.
25 Letter, dated 12 Feb. 1902, Chief of the Bureau of Equipment to the Secretary of the Navy, files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
26 Letter, dated 15 Mar. 1902, Chief of the Bureau of Equipment to the Secretary of the Navy; memorandum dated 15 Mar. 1902, Chief of the Bureau of Equipment to Chief of the Bureau of Navigation, files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
27 J. M. Hudgins was born in and appointed a naval cadet from Virginia. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1894. His knowledge of engineering and experience made him a logical choice for the mission. Not only was he a well-informed engineering officer, but in addition he had received post-graduate engineering instruction in Paris, and while there had gone through the Ducretet plant. His contributions to the progress of naval radio were outstanding, one of them being his compilation of the Navy's first instruction book in this field. He became the head of the Radio Division, Bureau of Equipment in 1904. The Navy suffered a great loss in his untimely death, the result of a turret explosion in the U.S.S. Kearsarge, which occurred during target practice off Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
28 James H. Bell and William C. Bean were selected for this duty after a careful study of the records of all chief electrician's mates, as best qualified to quickly assimilate knowledge and possessing the capability to instruct others. These two men became the backbone of the training program and had much to do with the development of naval radio. Both men retired with the rank of lieutenant.
29 Letter, dated 7 Aug. 1902, Lt. J. M. Hudgins, USN, to Chief of the Bureau of Equipment, files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
30 Annual Report of the Secretary of the Navy, 1902, p. 375.
31 Letter, dated 7 Aug. 1902, Lt. John M. Hudgins, USN, to Chief of the Bureau of Equipment, files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
32 Letter, dated 28 Feb. 1902, Comdr. F. M. Barber, USN (retired), to the Chief of the Bureau of Equipment; Letter, dated 13 Jan. 1902, the Chief of the Bureau of Equipment to Commander Barber, files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
33 Letter, dated 25 Apr. 1902, Comdr. F. M. Barber, USN (retired), to the Chief of the Bureau of Equipment, files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
34 Letter, dated 7 Aug. 1902, Lt. J. M. Hudgins, USN, to the Chief of the Bureau of Equipment, files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
35 Letter, dated 7 Aug. 1902, Lt. J. M. Hudgins, USN, to the Chief of the Bureau of Equipment, files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
37 "Radioana," SRM 100-232, SRM 4-547, p. 4, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass.
38 Letter, dated 7 Aug. 1902, Lt. John M. Hudgins, USN, to the Chief of the Bureau of Equipment, files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
39 In later comments on this preferential list, James H. Bell stated: "It may be said . . . that the British Marconi Co. lost its great chance when it refused to sell twenty sets to the United States Navy. Had these been received, workable as they undeniably were, they would have had the advantage of priority, and this is always of great value. The hold which the German wireless interests obtained in the supply of wireless apparatus to the United States Navy, as a direct result of the selection of the Slaby-Arco by the Washington official tests, persisted for almost a decade. Had two sets of Marconi apparatus been included in the purchase of sets by the United States Navy abroad in 1901, Marconi might have won over Slaby-Arco. My own knowledge of the sets of that date would lead me to say that the race would have been a close one, with Marconi a very close second though not clearly and evidently the winner. However, they had their chance under proprietary order a year before, and with twenty sets in Navy use it would have been hard, at least for a foreign manufacturer to have come into too active competition with them" ("Radioana," SRM 100-222, 230, p. 1, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass.)
40 Letter, dated 7 Aug. 1902, Lt. John M. Hudgins, USN, to the Chief of the Bureau of Equipment, files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
42 Ibid. At this time European press utterances by rival manufacturers of wireless telegraphic apparatus were common occurrences. Marconi maintained that his German competitor Slaby-Arco simply copied his method and actually turned out a Germanized Marconi system. The German firm indignantly denied this. To add to the turmoil, Dr. Braun insisted hotly, at regular intervals, that he was the man to whom success of radio communications was due. Siemens and Halske, manufacturers of his apparatus, were of the same opinion. They instituted action against the Allgemeine Elektrstitats Gesellschaft, the owners of the Slaby-Arco patents, and were also preparing to start proceeding against the English Marconi Co. Until this time, the little opera bouffe war found expression chiefly in the refusal of the rival companies to receive one another's messages when sent from ships or shore stations (Scientific American, 19 Apr. 1902 (Munn & Co. New York), p. 275)).
43 Letter, dated July 1902, Cmdr. F. M. Barber, USN (retired), to Chief of the Bureau of Equipment; ltr., dated 21 June 1902, from Executive Committee, Marconi Wireless Telegraph Co. of America, to Commander Barber, files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
44 Letter, dated 19 June 1902, Marconi Wireless Telegraph Co. of America to the editor of the New York Herald.
45 Letter, dated July 1902, Comdr. F. M. Barber USN (retired), to the Chief of the Bureau of Equipment, files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
46 Letter, dated 3 July 1902, Mr. J. Bottomley, general manager, Marconi Wireless Telegraph Co. of America, to Chief of the Bureau of Equipment, files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
47 Annual Report of the Secretary of the Navy for 1902, p. 376.
48 Samuel Lubell, "Magnificent Failure", Saturday Evening Post (Curtis Publishing Co., Philadelphia, Pa.), 17 Jan. 1942, p. 21.
49 Fayant, op. cit., p. 388.
50 Lubell, op. cit., p. 21.
52 Fayant, op. cit., p. 450. One of De Forest's original associates in the Wireless Telegraph Co. of America asked for the appointment of a receiver for the American De Forest Co. This was finally settled out of court.
53 W. Rupert Maclauren, "Invention and Innovation in the Radio Industry" (Macmillan Co., New York, 1949), pp. 63-67.
54 Infra, 10sec3.
55 Electrical World and Engineer (McGraw-Hill Co., New York), vol. 37, No. I, 1901, p. 48.
56 Later, on 30 Mar. 1905, two sets of equipment were ordered from the Lodge-Muirhead Co. of England.
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