National Magazine, June-July, 1910, pages 425-429:
Merging the Wireless Companies
IN the early part of May was announced the consolidation of four wireless telephone and telegraph companies operating in various parts of the United States. Naturally this announcement occasioned considerable interest, and the public became eager to learn what the consolidation portended in the way of electrical feats. During the past few years the public has been treated to many surprises in this line--it has seen the telephone rise from an insignificant toy to an indispensable public utility; it has watched with keen interest every innovation in electrical science; and particularly has it been interested in every wireless feat which scientific men have performed.
Wireless telegraphy by induction--the transmission of electric impulses without any apparent conductive medium--has been a scientific and commercial success. It was first suggested by Dr. Henry, who, in 1838, when a professor of mathematics and natural philosophy at the Albany Academy, established wireless communication between two rooms in his house. These rooms were situated eighteen feet apart and were separated by two thick walls.
During the succeeding fifty years many scientists attempted to solve the great problem of wireless telegraphy, but it was not until 1888 that Professor Hertz of Bonn, by discovering the waves that bear his name, established the correctness of the hypothesis often advanced, though never with any great degree of conviction, that electric impulses might be transmitted to unlimited distance without artificial conduction. In reality, it was a wonderful discovery, and one that theoretically, at least, revolutionized the whole science of electrical communication; never before had it been dreamed that an electric impulse could travel 180,000 miles a second, passing through every opaque substance but metal, and making at the same time over 245,000,000 distinct impingements on any object susceptible to its influence.
Science the world over immediately recognized that in the practical utilization of this marvelous force would lie the solution of the great problem of wireless telegraphy, and their efforts were directed to this end.
Another invention which is destined to play an important part in the world of communication is the wireless telephone. The wireless telephone has been brought to a remarkably high state of development, and is by no means in an embryonic stage. Thomas E. Clark of Detroit has demonstrated the tremendous value of the wireless telephone and telegraph to the shipping interests of the Great Lakes. It has been estimated that eighty per cent of all the water tonnage of North America is carried on their waters. This, computed, means nearly seven times as much freight as the combined mercantile fleets of the world carry through the Suez Canal. At the present time over 4,000 freight, 250 passenger and 2,500 pleasure and other craft compose the fleet of the Great Lakes. Every year there are hundreds of accidents, for their waters are among the most treacherous in the world. Many vessels have left their docks never to be heard from again; storms arise without warning to the sailor. True, the United States Weather Bureau has posted warnings hours before the storm broke, but hitherto it has been impossible to carry these warnings to the sailor out on the mighty deep, far from any source of communication.
At present, the future and possibilities of the wireless cannot be predicted. That it is destined to be an important link in intercommunication, no one can gainsay.
The consolidation of companies previously referred to includes the Collins Wireless Telephone Company of Newark, New Jersey, the Clark Wireless Telegraph-Telephone Company of Detroit, the Pacific Wireless Telegraph Company of Los Angeles and the Massie Wireless Telegraph Company of Providence, Rhode Island. The operations of the companies in the new corporation cover New England and the Middle Atlantic Coast, the Great Lakes and Middle Western region, and the Pacific Coast. Ultimately, it is declared, the operation of the Continental will be extended so as to allow for the transmission of wireless messages from New York to San Francisco, or a dozen other places on the Pacific Coast, and to hundreds of intermediate stations.
In the consolidation of these companies is ample capital to back the venture; there is a volume of meaning in the combination of four concerns whose business is the transmission of wireless intelligence, and it is a significant step in the world's progress. Wireless, the greatest distance eliminator that has come to mankind, is in its present state like an unbridled colt. Its tremendous energies have not been fully utilized, and the best method of directing those powers is the present-day study of scientists. Three men, prominent in the art of wireless; each of whom has traveled ahead of public knowledge regarding this new means of communication, have now determined on concerted action to establish trans-continental wireless telephone-telegraph service and to give an immediate wide field of operation. They are A. Frederick Collins, inventor of the Collins Wireless Telephone; Walter W. Massie, inventor of the Massie Wireless Telegraph system, and Thomas R. Clark, inventor and founder of the Clark Wireless Telegraph-Telephone system.
Mr. Collins's laboratories are at Newark, New Jersey, Mr. Clark's at Detroit, Michigan, and Mr. Massie's at Providence, Rhode Island. These scientists form the technical directorate of the Continental Wireless Telephone & Telegraph Company, which is to furnish a means of wireless communication on land and sea, but primarily on land. The object of this organization is worthy, as all such ventures make for the ultimate good of humanity. It will bring men closer together, expedite commerce and serve as savers of lives, in times of danger, by quick communication.
Edison said: "All that remains to be invented is the frictionless machine, and the only frictionless machine running now is the world whirling in resistless ether." The man who invents a frictionless machine discovers the secret of perpetual motion--but he is not yet known. Nowadays everything that moves causes friction, likewise innovations cause friction because established conditions resent disturbance. The listless content of "what was good enough for father is good enough for me" is dissipated in the wind of the rush of this progressive age, actuated by the thought "onward and upward." Mutation of human affairs is as inevitable as death, and improvement follows every change. Between man and his fellow-men, communication is the first requisite of progress, and the shortest route to a given point is the straight line. Of all the methods of communication known, wireless is the only one with which it is possible to utilize the shortest distance between two points. Ether is everywhere, and the wireless wave travels with the speed of light, namely, 186,000 miles per second. There is nothing faster.
On May 4, somewhere in the thick fog off Cape Cod, the steamship Santurce, bound for New York from Boston Light, collided with the steamship Ligonier. Through the roaring of the immediate panic on board both steamships, the wireless operator sat calmly tapping out his C. Q. D. calls. Walter W. Massie, at his home in Providence, five minutes later, was awakened by a call from the station at Point Judith, telling him the story of the collision, giving him the names of the two vessels and appealing urgently for help. Immediately, Massie communicated with the wrecking tug, Tasco, and President Scott of the Scott Wrecking Company of New London, and the work of rescue began at once. This was merely one of the hundreds of instances where wireless served as a life saver on boundary and inland waters. On the Great Lakes numerous instances of this kind occur with consequent good results, to the credit of Thomas B. Clark, making the lives of sailors and travelers comparatively safe.
But it is not on the water alone that the three inventors plan their great improvements. At present, it is impossible to telephone from New York City to San Francisco. In the future, it will be possible to communicate over this distance by wireless. If the wire telephone cannot convey speech over the United States, there must be some other means of covering that distance. Everything points to wireless as the solution of difficulties presented to commercial and social life distance, and Collins, Massie and Clark are working at the puzzle.
The Massie Wireless Telegraph System is the result of years of study and experiment by Mr. Massie, and has been in practical operation for over six years, accomplishing much in New England and along the Atlantic Coast. Steamers of the following lines have used the Massie equipment: San Francisco and Portland, Pacific Coast, Matson, Maine, Fall River, Providence, New London, Norwich and other steamship companies and lines. In addition to this service, land stations are located at Wilson Point, Connecticut, Point Judith, Rhode Island, Block Island, Rhode Island, Cape May, New Jersey, New London, Connecticut, Chatham, Massachusetts and Jacksonville, Florida.
The Collins Wireless Telephone Company of Newark, New Jersey, has spent years in developing its wireless telephone under the well-known expert, A. Frederick Collins, and it is the intention of the Continental Company to install the wireless and put it in operation at all the wireless telegraph stations.
A. Frederick Collins is a man of mental force, and judicial scientific publications place him in the class with Morse, Bell, Edison and Marconi in furthering the cause of modern science for the benefit of mankind. Mr. Collins says:
"My wireless telephone represents the last stage known in the evolution of communication. Wireless telephony is a great advance over the wire system because distance between two stations ceases to be an impediment to clarity and reliability, and the cost of maintenance and installation is slight in comparison."
Since its inception, the Collins company has grown from healthy infancy to vigorous youth, through the policies of A. Frederick Collins, technical director, and his associates, owing to the fact that Collins is the pioneer of wireless telephony in America, and is probably the best informed on all wireless matters, being author of five books on wireless, the authority quoted in many encyclopaedias, and his aim being to further modern science. He was awarded the only gold medal ever won by any company or scientist, exclusively for wireless telephone, at the Seattle World's Fair, in September, 1909.
The Clark Wireless Telegraph-Telephone system is the creation of Thomas E. Clark, electrical engineer of Detroit, and has been in practical and successful operation on the Great Lakes of America during the past five years.
On the Pacific Coast, the Pacific Wireless Telegraph Company has been established for several years, and enjoys an excellent reputation for efficient service.
America's broad areas will lose the quality of magnificent distances when the East becomes constantly in instantaneous touch with the West by means of Continental Wireless. Stations are now built and operating in New York City, Buffalo, Detroit, Toledo, Chicago, Oakland and San Francisco, and intervening points may be Salt Lake City, Denver and Omaha. A Northwest Coast-to-Coast wireless line will be arranged from Seattle, taking in the following points: Ellensburg, Spokane, Helena, Fargo, Duluth, Milwaukee, Chicago, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and New York. The Massie service on the New England Coast will be extended from Portland, Maine, to Key West. On the Pacific Ocean, the stations Seattle, Port Townsend, Friday Harbor, San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles and Catalina Island have already furnished a wireless service of great value.
The list of ships using service of the combined companies shows a remarkable development of wireless communication. The Pittsburg Steamship Company, owning 116 vessels, utilizes the Clark wireless for reporting on the Great Lakes.
The future of wireless looms big in the world's affairs, and if development and progress in the next ten years is proportionate to the past ten years its dimensions in 1920 will be magnificent. In 1897 there were in existence two wireless stations, and the longest distance covered was fourteen miles, and in 1909, there were on earth 1260 stations and intelligence had been transmitted wirelessly nearly four thousand miles.