In establishing this group the Bureau of Steam Engineering, in its "Plan for Coordination of Work at Navy Yards," issued 15 June 1915, stated:
Navy Yard Expert Radio Aid Responsibility Boston, Mass. Mr. Walter Chadbourne Keys; condensers. Philadelphia, Pa. Mr. E. D. Forbes Antenna design and construction; rotary spark gaps; radio direction finders. Brooklyn, N.Y. Messrs Guy Hill, George Lewis, and Lester Israel Frequency changers. Washington, D.C. Messrs. George H. Clark, Lester Israel, W. H. Preiss, and C. Carpenter Receivers; detectors; amplifiers; frequency-meters; transformers. Norfolk, Va. Mr. H. E. Hallborg Reactances. Mare Island, Calif. Mr. George Hanscom Transformers; quenched gaps; motor-generators. Puget Sound, Wash. Mr. W. H. Marriot None.1
The success or failure of the Bureau's project for government manufacture and government development of radio apparatus rests largely upon the personal qualifications of those men as regards both ability and effort, and upon the Bureau's intimate knowledge of the same . . . Recognition of the individual character of the work performed should prove a strong incentive to increased effort.Before relating the achievements of this organization it is fitting that tribute be paid to its organizer Lt. Comdr. A. J. Hepburn, USN. This can be best done by quoting the writings of George H. Clark, his subordinate and close personal friend:
Design, manufacture, operation! For the smooth building of a military system to handle the first, chief praise goes to Lieutenant Commander A. J. Hepburn, whose clear, incisive thinking led to the building of a smoothly-working technical corps which was operative from its very start.2Hepburn completed his tour of duty in the Bureau at the time these additional civilian experts were employed and was relieved, in April 1915, by Hooper who had returned from his assignment as an observer of radio activities in the European war zone.
. . . it could not take cognizance of patents. It must have certain apparatus and must go on buying it from whomever can or will supply it until it is informed by the Department of Justice or some other authority that we must stop it.5Regardless of this official expression of policy made by the Head of the Radio Division, all Navy contracts for radio equipment continued to carry a clause requiring the supplying firm to guarantee defense against patent infringement actions. The Bureau was fully aware that the manufacture of equipment by the Navy would place it in the position of having to defend itself against any infringement actions which might be brought before the U.S. Court of Claims. The major obstacles standing in the way of manufacture were the Marconi four-circuit tuning and the Fessenden heterodyne patents.6
Without going into details, the point may be sufficiently emphasized by stating that the tests could not be held if it should prematurely transpire that the proprietors of the system are interested in radio matters, or that any test of apparatus made by them is contemplated. The Bureau has taken steps to insure that in the work of preparation for the test, including all correspondence on the subject up to this time, knowledge of the plan in view shall be restricted to the fewest persons possible, and that all such persons may be personally identified.Proprietor's representatives were authorized, upon producing a copy of the referenced letter, to assist at the cooperating stations as follows: Messrs. R. L. Hartley and B. W. Kendall, Mare Island; Lloyd Espenschied, Honolulu; and R.H. Wilson, Colón.
The Bureau requests that a competent officer at each of the stations mentioned be assigned to supervise the tests and that all necessary facilities for the same be afforded. The Bureau desires not only to provide every convenience for a trial of the apparatus under the most favorable conditions, but also that a positive effort to assist should be made, freely offering such advice, services or use of special naval apparatus as the circumstances may suggest. The commercial representative is in immediate charge of the test and all technical details of the apparatus in question. It will probably be impractical to confine knowledge of the test and of technical details to a single naval representative at each station but every effort should be made to restrict this knowledge to the fewest persons possible.
. . . there he saw for the first time the arrangement for obtaining "feedback" in a circuit so as to cause an associated vacuum tube to oscillate. Simply described, this consisted of a coil in the plate circuit of the vacuum tube, which coil was coupled to the secondary receiver coil, or other coil in which oscillations were to be produced. Since variation of coupling had a direct bearing on results this at once was seen to provide a positive method for making a tube oscillate, whereas with the De Forest ultraudion scheme, which had no variables, oscillation was a matter of hit or miss.13