Although this article appeared in the 1902 edition of the Hawaiian Almanac, the publication was copyrighted on November 4, 1901, so the article was likely written in late 1901. Farrington was later appointed territorial governor of Hawaii--the current newsletter of the Wallace Rider Farrington High School in Honolulu is "The Farrington Wireless".
Hawaiian Almanac and Annual for 1902, pages 189-193:
WIRELESS TELEGRAPHY ESTABLISHED IN HAWAII.
Written for the Annual by W. R. Farrington.
THE history of wireless telegraphy in Hawaii is very much like that of all new inventions in that it had its failures and partial successes and the final result has been a complete success. Wireless telegraphy is now in operation between the different islands of the group transmitting commercial messages with equal accuracy and regularity if not with equal rapidity of the regular wire telegraph as generally known.
To Mr. Fred J. Cross, a former resident of Buffalo, N. Y., an electrician of considerable repute who came to the islands about three years ago, is to be given the credit for the success of the system for the Hawaiian Islands and the carrying it through to final success. He had kept track of the various experiments which had been made in wireless telegraphy and immediately on touring the islands saw the splendid opportunity for establishing communication between the different islands at much smaller expense than would be required to connect them by cable.
When in 1899, Marconi came to the United States to demonstrate the practical uses of his system of wireless telegraphy, it will be remembered that he made a demonstration of his system for the United States Navy and also operated it at the time of the international yacht races. Mr. Cross left the islands for New York, arriving in San Francisco in September, 1899, and immediately telegraphed to Mr. Marconi that he desired to secure the franchise of his system for the Hawaiian Islands. The reply from Marconi's representative was very discouraging, but Mr. Cross was not deterred in his effort. Going on to New York, he met Mr. Marconi, and was present on the warship New York when the demonstration was made for the United States navy. The result of his conference with Marconi was an agreement by which the franchise of the Marconi system for the Hawaiian Islands was secured.
This contract was signed October 31, 1899, whereupon Mr. Cross returned to Honolulu. Under the contract, the Marconi company was to install the system complete on the different islands of the group. Mr. Cross associated with himself Mr. R. D. Silliman and organized the Inter-Island Telegraph Co., Ltd., to take over the franchise which he had secured and operate the system. The company was capitalized at $100,000. Assessable stock was quickly taken up. The people at that time while being somewhat doubtful as to the practicability of the system, were ready to take up with any plan offering reasonable assurance of success. They were satisfied to expend a certain amount of money thereon, considering the great good it would be to the business interests of the islands if it finally proved practical.
A very long delay ensued in establishing the system owing to the outbreak of plague resulting in the refusal of the Marconi company to send their experts out here, they having had an unjustifiable fear of the danger to which their experts would be exposed. Not until May 2, 1900, did Mr. Trios. Bowden, chief expert for the Marconi company arrive in Honolulu, followed ten days later by Messrs. Pletts and Hobbs whereon they immediately began with the installation of the system.
Stations were erected on Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Maui and Hawaii. For some reason best known to himself, Mr. Bowden proceeded to erect all the stations before making a trial across any of the channels which he had to span. In August, 1900, the stations had all been erected and equipped with such instruments as the Marconi company had sent out. It was at this time that the first failure was registered. Only two stations would respond, these being the stations on Lanai and Maui.
This apparent failure caused a lack of confidence in the system and established the belief in the mind of the average citizen that while wireless telegraphy might be practical for occasional signalling, it could not be used for regular commercial business.
The Marconi company was communicated with who sent out Mr. Andrew Gray, one of their chief experts who was in South Africa conducting experiments when Mr. Bowden was first sent out to the islands. Unlike his predecessor, Mr. Gray immediately went to work to establish communication between the Islands of Oahu and Molokai, the first link of the system. Mr. Bowden had placed the first station on the heights of Kaimuki, Oahu, some 200 feet above sea level. Mr. Gray in his experiments went to the water's edge and by means of kites found that communication could easily be established by placing the station almost directly on the beach where, the receiving wire of the station had constant connection with damp earth.
On November 13, 1900, Mr. Gray and his assistants sent and received the first messages between Oahu and Molokai across an ocean channel of twenty-eight miles. The station was moved to the lower level and thus the first link of the chain which was to connect the Islands was complete. He then found that the Lanai station being on the water level would work perfectly and thus in a very short time the line from Oahu to Molokai and Lanai was complete. The distance between the Molokai and Lanai stations is thirty miles. Gray then moved the Makena, Maui, station to the water level and found that communication could be had with Lanai, thirty miles distant. The same idea was followed out in the Mahukona, Hawaii, station, the distance between Mahukona and Makena being forty-three miles. After various changes had been made in these stations, the line worked perfectly between Oahu and Hawaii, thus connecting the main islands of the group, Oahu, Maui and Hawaii. The distance of the Makena station from the business centre of Maui made it advisable to put in another station at Lahaina to connect with the Lanai station. The distance across that channel is eleven miles.
Mr. Gray having proved beyond doubt that communication could be carried on regularly across the channels, the work of instructing the operators began in Honolulu. All the operators are young men and women of Hawaii. They had no previous knowledge of telegraphy, it being the contention of Mr. Gray that in operating wireless telegraphy, it was much better to take green hands and instruct them in the first principles. A class was held in Honolulu under the instruction of Mr. Gray assisted by Messrs. Pletts and Hobbs.
March 2, 1901, the company opened for business. The rates for messages are two dollars for messages of not more than ten words and twenty cents per word for each additional word. Messages were transmitted easily, accurately and rapidly, but the failure of Mr. Bowden's first trial had so far destroyed public confidence that the people were slow to believe it or patronize it. The various plantation managers, however, made use of it and also leading commercial firms for the transmission of orders.
The company owing to the non-payment of assessments has had something approaching a struggle for existence. The business of the line, however, is steadily increasing and promises excellent returns on the investment. The originator and organizer of the company is the manager of the system and has been unfailing in his confidence in the capacity of the wireless telegraph to fulfill all demands made upon it.
The greatest distance over which this line operated under Mr. Gray's installation was forty-three miles from Makena to Mahukona stations. Mr. Cross, however, conceived an improvement upon Marconi's methods and his ideas have proved to be entirely feasible. By equipping Lanai station and Mahukona station with these improvements which increase the force of the current, he has made it possible to cut out Makena, the Maui station, and work from Lanai to Mahukona, Hawaii, direct, a distance of seventy-eight miles. There is no more difficulty in covering this distance than in covering the twenty-eight miles between Molokai and Waialae, Oahu. It is the intention in the near future to cut out the Molokai station. Messages will then be sent from Oahu to Lanai direct, a distance of fifty-eight miles.
The small expense of installing and operating wireless telegraphy is shown by the fact that the installation of the system, including the changes required on account of the mistakes of expert Bowden, was not over ten thousand dollars. A cable could not be laid between the same points for several times this figure.
The rapidity with which messages may be sent is shown by the time required to transmit the time check through all the stations at the opening of each day's business. At seven o'clock every morning all the clocks in the various stations are checked by the chronometer in Honolulu. To send the signal through from Oahu to Molokai, from Molokai to Lanai, from Lanai to Lahaina, from Lahaina to Mahukona and back to Honolulu through these various stations takes only twelve seconds. This shows that the response from one station to another is just as rapid as telegraphy by wire.
At the present time, the stations are kept open only from seven o'clock in the morning to six at night. As business increases, however, the stations will be equipped with an additional force to enable them to work night and day. The poles at the various stations are from one hundred and fifty to two hundred feet in height and are indeed the most expensive part of the equipment.
The present officers of the company are: Fred J. Cross, President; W. W. Hall, Vice-President ; Wallace R. Farrington, Secretary; Clinton J. Hutchins, Treasurer; E. O. White, Auditor; J. A. Magoon, R. D. Silliman, O. G. Traphagen and W. H. Hoogs, Directors.
It is anticipated that in a short time telegraphic communication will be established between Oahu and Kauai, the Kauai station to be located at Nawiliwili and the Oahu station at Kaena Point. The distance to be spanned is sixty-one miles which is fully within the capacity of the wireless system to cover.