The Electrician (London), October 14, 1898, pages 814-815:
Elsewhere in our issue this week will be found a lengthy report of the second ordinary general meeting of the Wireless Telegraph and Signal Co. (Limited), which was held on Friday, the 7th inst. The speech of the Chairman and Managing Director (Mr. H. J. DAVIS) will, we are sure, be read with great interest by our readers, and especially by those who have been watching the development of wireless telegraphy from its earliest stage. These latter are now able to recognise in the formulæ of the electromagnetic theory of CLERK MAXWELL the tiny germ of a commercial system for the transmission of intelligence. Commencing thus as a mere mathematical theory, based upon the experimental investigation of the relation between optical and electro-magnetic phenomena, the science and industry of wireless telegraphy has undergone a process of development which cannot fail to interest equally the pure scientist, the practical engineer and the man of commerce. Succeeding the purely theoretical aspect in which it was viewed in the Maxwellian formulæ, its next development was the practical experiments of HEINRICH HERTZ, who was really the first actually to transmit energy across non-conducting space in the precise manner in which it now serves to convey the signals used in the Marconi and allied systems of wireless telegraphy. For some considerable time the scientific aspects of this development completely obscured its more practical applications. Scientists were so charmed with the experimental evidence it afforded as to the validity of MAXWELL'S electromagnetic theory, that for many years the fact that these experiments possessed any practical value as a means of signalling between two pieces of disconnected apparatus almost escaped their notice. Thus all the essential features of this method of signalling were really outlined in scientific laboratories long before any idea of utilising them for commerce had occupied prominent attention. It is true that the suggestion was cursorily thrown out, by one or two leaders of science, that the Hertzian waves might be utilised for signalling; but this suggestion was never more than a mere bald idea, conveying no practical directions as to its detailed working, and it was generally received with curiosity rather than with any serious idea of putting it into practical use. Although, therefore, as we have said, the principles of wireless telegraphy and the essential details for its operation were worked out in scientific laboratories, all honour is due to Signor MARCONI for having been the first to bring prominently forward before official bodies and the public the possibility, and, indeed, the eminent practicability, of using Hertzian waves for telegraphing between two places not connected by an electrical conductor. For some considerable time experiments on the Marconi system were carried out in this country by the inventor under the ægis of the Post Office but, from various causes, this fraternisation did not lead to the new system of telegraphy being generally taken up by the Post Office. Eventually Mr. MARCONI'S patents were acquired by a Company, an ordinary general meeting of which we have just alluded to. This Company owns not only the British but a very considerable number of foreign patents, having actually sealed no less than 22 out of applications for 29. Its operations, therefore, extend considerably beyond the area controlled by the Post Office. Indeed, as will be learned from the Chairman's speech, the major part of its operations have recently been--and give, promise of being even more markedly in the future--greater at sea than on land. We need not particularise in this respect the successes which have been made in the communication between moving vessels and coast stations, for details of these will be found in our report of the meeting.
We have more than once discovered not a little curiosity among the public, and in the electrical profession, as to the particular means by which the Wireless Telegraph and Signal Co. proposes to obtain a dividend-bearing revenue. In order to pay a reasonable dividend upon the original capital of £100,000--which it is now proposed to increase to £200,000 by the creation of a further batch of £1 shares--a very considerable annual revenue would have to accrue; and where this is to come from is, in the minds of some individuals, somewhat of a riddle. We think, however, that it is not as insoluble as the riddle of the Sphinx; for although at present the operations of the Wireless Telegraph Co. are being carried on apart from any licence from the Post Office--which, it will be remembered, holds the monopoly of all systems of electrical signalling for the business of transmitting messages in this country--a wide field of activity for this company might very well be profitably tilled outside of the particular area which would have to be sanctioned by the Post Office. In other words, even though the Post Office should place a veto on the transmission of inland telegrams by wireless telegraphy, there are a number of other applications quite sufficient, if properly developed, to pay a handsome dividend upon the comparatively modest capital of this undertaking. It will be observed, for example, that negotiations are now on the point of being concluded between the Company and Lloyds, which, if carried into practical effect, will probably result in an extensive application of wireless telegraphy for signalling between Lloyds' stations and outward and homeward bound vessels passing along the coast. When it is remembered that the radius of practical working of the Marconi system over the sea has been proved to be at least 25 miles, and has been shown to be not injuriously affected by changes of weather, there will be no difficulty in recognising that, from this application alone, an extensive revenue from royalties might be acquired. Indeed, it is not at all beyond the bounds of practical possibility for the whole of the English coasts--as, indeed, also foreign coasts--to be dotted with wireless telegraph signalling stations keeping up a constant communication with the mercantile and naval fleets near the shores. Then, again, there is the application of wireless telegraphy for lighthouses and lightships, and for communicating between these and the shore. The lighthouses and lightships themselves can now be equipped with an apparatus more far-reaching and more certain in its action than the fog-horn or the lantern. Ships carrying wireless telegraphic receiving apparatus could be warned, at a much greater distance than hitherto, of the approach of danger; and captains and masters could carry on a definite conversation with the occupants of the lighthouse or lightship. That this might, in certain circumstances, be infinitely more serviceable than the short signal of a ray of light or the fog siren, it will readily be seen. Again, it seems not improbable that the commercial development of ship's apparatus for wireless telegraphy will speedily lead to the abandonment of the time-honoured nautical practice of signalling with flags--a tedious process at the best, and one that is often full of uncertainty, if not of absolute error. We recollect, for example, an ocean tramp signalling to a liner in mid-ocean "What is your longitude?" and being tendered in reply, "Have you seen any ice?" the first question being completely misunderstood. Had the two vessels been equipped with efficient Marconi apparatus, not only would the error not have arisen, but copious information as to the whereabouts of the unfortunate tramp could have been supplied to her all the time she was above the horizon of the liner.
Turning from sea to land, we find, as we have already indicated, a more circumscribed field of application for telegraphy without line wires. Even were the Post Office to grant a licence for the ordinary business of transmitting inland telegrams, we doubt whether much more would be done than can probably be legally undertaken without that licence. True, there are rare cases where, as Dr. LODGE once expressed it, it might be advantageous to "shout" the message, spreading it broadcast to receivers in all directions; and an instance may arise in the case of press messages. Little or nothing is to be generally gained by using ether waves radiating in all directions; and, indeed, some inventors have sought to discover means whereby the waves might be focussed. We are inclined to accept the view confided to us by a well-known physicist, that the most effective mode of directing and focussing ether waves is to use a conducting wire--ordinary line telegraphy, in fact. There is nevertheless one application of telegraphy on land which has not received the attention it merits, and the efforts to accomplish which have hitherto not been commercially successful. We refer to the sending of messages between a moving train and any other point either stationary or in motion. The most obvious example is the establishment of continuous communication between a signal-man in his box and a driver in his engine cab. Hitherto this has been attempted by various systems of electro magnetic or electrostatic induction; but there would appear to be far more chance of success with the use of Hertzian waves. Other applications of wireless telegraphy it will require but little technical knowledge and scant imagination on the part of any reader, to discover; and it is not difficult to perceive that the Wireless Telegraph and Signal Co. possesses a property which, if carefully developed, can readily be made to flourish, as well for the shareholders as for the benefit of the community at large.