The original scan for this article is located at: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85066387/1899-10-04/ed-1/seq-2/.
San Francisco Call, October 4, 1899, page 2:
CALL'S SUCCESSFUL BULLETIN SERVICE A TRIUMPH IN WIRELESS TELEGRAPHY.
THE efficacy of wireless telegraphy as an aid to modern journalism has again been demonstrated by The Call to the satisfaction of the people of San Francisco. This paper was the first to see the journalistic possibilities in the experiments of Marconi and was also the first to harness the newly developed electrical current to the car of progress. For weeks preceding the return from Manila of the California Volunteers a corps of experts in its employ were setting up and perfecting apparatus that would herald, ahead of all other agencies, the near approach of the transport. How well the work was done is matter of history. It is hardly necessary to recall that slow-going competitors got their only intimation of the arrival of the Californians from the booming of a Call cannon and their news of the same event from a Call bulletin.
The first of the international yacht races between the cup challenger, Shamrock, and the defender, Columbia, has afforded this paper a second similar opportunity to distance competitors grown yellow from age and to establish beyond cavil the ready adaptability of wireless telegraphy to the needs of the modern newspaper. Extraordinary preparations were made to furnish to the people of San Francisco the clearest picture and the best description of the race and the results exceeded the expectations of even the most sanguine. In conjunction with the New York Herald The Call secured the services of Signor Marconi and his corps of assistants in order that the discoverer and foremost experimenter in the new system of electrical transmission might himself superintend the details and launch his discovery on the world as an accomplished news agency. The story of the preparations made at the eastern end of the continent have been told in full. It only remained for this paper to take advantage at this end of the preparations at the other. How well that was done was attested by the crowds that gathered early yesterday morning in front of The Call business office to watch the start, the progress and the finish of the race, upon the result of which two worlds are hanging breathless.
No similar successful attempt at picturing and describing a passing event has ever been recorded in journalism. The apparatus was not particularly elaborate, but it was so perfect, that those who witnessed its workings needed nothing but the power to take out of their considerations the three thousand odd miles that separated them from the Jersey coast to imagine they were witnessing the actual struggle. Across the main arch of the building was stretched a canvas forty feet long by eight feet high, on which had been painted that part of the ocean over which had been laid out the cup course and the coasts bounding it. In front of this picture, hanging by endless cords, were suspended miniatures of the contending yachts, so arranged as to be carried over the course as the bulletins to be received should indicate the challenger and defender were moving. In addition to this a large stretch of white muslin had been arranged on rollers on the side of the building upon which the bulletins were to be painted as fast as received in order that those not up in the maneuvers might be fully informed of the progress of the race.
Eleven o'clock, New York time, 8 o'clock in San Francisco, was the hour set for the start: As early as 7 o'clock, however, The Call's yachting expert and his assistants were on deck awaiting the signal to manipulate the miniatures, and the crowd began to gather. At 8 o'clock the street was packed with a multitude that was not slow to manifest its disapproval of the slowness of the Eastern racing officials in giving the signal for the start. The Call skippers could be seen giving jerks at the cords preliminary to the opening of the event.
At 8:05 a. m. the first bulletin was displayed on the muslin. It read: "The wind is northwest and blowing eleven knots an hour," which was readily taken by the crowd to predicate that "Lipton luck" was on the decline and that the Columbia was a winner. Seven minutes later another bulletin announced the start and The Call skippers trimmed their sails accordingly, the little boats starting out on the sea of canvas. The Shamrock was slightly in the lead, the next bulletin announcing that she had crossed the line at 11:15:35, the Columbia following five seconds later.
"They're off:" yelled the crowd, The Call skippers pulled the cords and the challenger and defender were soon running before the wind, which had died down, the next bulletin announced, to eight knots. For the next five hours and a half the crowds stood and grew and watched The Call's miniature yachts struggle for the supremacy on the canvas sea. During that period more than 150 bulletins were borne along Marconian waves to a through land wire and flashed through to The Call office. Every foot of the course, every movement of the racers was noted and "wired" for the information of the hundreds and hundreds of people crowding in front of The Call bulletins. Every taking in or crowding on of sail was noted, every movement of the wind, every tack was recorded by the bulletins of wireless without a hitch.
The waiting crowds were all eyes. Bulletins or a Presidential election could not have attracted more attention than those that recorded the spilling of wind or the flapping of a sail. For all the time of the race the street in front of The Call business office was a solid jam of humanity with the exception of one thick-headed policeman, who seemed to be entirely ignorant of the meaning of that word. He was officious to the point of insult, pushing and hauling people about without justification, for all of which there is the consolation that he will probably have a chance to answer to his official superiors.
At one other newspaper office a feeble attempt was made to draw a crowd, but it was too weak. It lacked all the elements of realism. Small boats were chased along a narrow cornice of blue canvas regardless of the positions of the racers and in imminent danger of tacking into a yellow porthole or jibing into the nearest office window. It was a clear test of the wired against the wireless telegraph, and the journalism that is in the sere and yellow was plainly wired. Early in the race it gave up attempts at furnishing bulletins for the very good reason that n received none and the skippers in a fire-escape to the sou'-sou'east got tired of chasing to The Call board for their acts.
During the entire course of the race, from the firing of the signal gun until the posting of the bulletin that announced "no race" the arrangements made by this paper worked to perfection. The elements all were favorable, not to speak of the gentle breeze wafting down Market street to fill out the sails of the mimic yachts n fair imitation of the swelling canvas of he actual racers. The excitement at all imes was intense, particularly in the first stages of the race, when the Shamrock seemed to be getting the better of the Columbia. There were groans of disapproval when the bulletins announced that the excursion boats were shutting off the Columbia's breeze. It was plain before all eyes that both boats had sailing qualities far in excess of expectations, and when the Columbia showed her heel to the Shamrock shortly after 12 o'clock the waiting crowd assumed a cheerful aspect, which it maintained till the end, receiving with every manifestation of joy the receipt of bulletins from Marconi announc ing the Columbia's leadership.
No greater triumph for wireless telegraphy could have been arranged. For the second time through its agency The Call distanced all competitors. It was enabled to announce the start so long before all competitors that the yachts had sailed nine miles of the course before their boats were set in motion; it was enabled to post and to picture accurately the progress of the race, while would-be competitors were unable to do either; and, to conclude, it put forth the final bulletin announcing "no race" just ten minutes in advance of others.
That is The Call's second record made with wireless telegraphy. The people of San Francisco can testify to it.