TOC | Previous Section: Chapter VII | Next Section: Chapter IX
History of Communications-Electronics in the United States Navy, Captain Linwood S. Howeth, USN (Retired), 1963, pages 85-106:


Early  Expansion  of  Naval  Radio  Communications


By the beginning of 1904 all the radio equipment which the Navy had purchased had been installed. The assigned responsibility to provide radio communication service to the other Government departments necessitated considerable expansion and, in numerous cases, the establishment of circuits over distances not yet conquered. Politically, the international situation had deteriorated and our relationship with Germany was questionable.1 As a country, the United States was becoming more and more self-sufficient from a manufacturing viewpoint, and with this there came a stronger feeling of nationalism.
    There is nothing of record to indicate that a decision was reached to cease, if possible, the purchase of radio equipment from foreign countries. Such a decision would have been logical, for, under the existing circumstances, we were dependent upon Germany for the necessary spare parts for our radio equipment. In event of a war with Germany or with a country she favored, that supply could be cut off.
    In its endeavor to secure equipment manufactured in this country the Navy Department on 2 April 1904 revitalized its Wireless Telegraph Board which had practically ceased to function after September 1903. The senior member and the member-recorder were assigned full-time duty with the Board, and the former was given the authority to convene the remaining members when and at such places as might be necessary.2 The naval radio stations at the Highlands of Navesink, N.J., and the Navy Yard, Brooklyn, N.Y., were made available to the Board for conducting tests, and training vessels were made available to assist. The original instructions to the Board, except where inconsistent with special conditions, and augmented by instructions relative to interference, interception, secrecy of transmission, and compatibility with other systems, were to govern all tests.3 With the single exception of Jayne, Head of the Radio Division, Bureau of Equipment, new members were appointed to the Board. These were Capt. J. A. Rodgers, USN, senior member; Comdr. George H. Peters, USN, Superintendent of the Compass Office; Comdr. Bradley A. Fiske, USN, who had as a younger officer conducted experiments with induction telegraphy; and Lt. Webster A. Edgar, USN, who was also the recorder. Chief Electrician's Mates Bell and Scanlin were assigned in charge of the Brooklyn Navy Yard and Highlands stations, respectively.4
    Earlier, the Navy had purchased the equipments for the comparative tests. Beginning in 1904, the companies participating in tests were required to furnish, operate, and bear all expense except for electrical power. However, the tests were to be under the complete control of the Bureau of Equipment, with representatives of the companies privileged to be present at all times when their apparatus was being operated.5
    Manufacturers were advised to inform the Bureau of Equipment should they desire to participate. The following firms or individuals expressed their desires to submit equipments: Messrs. Anders Bull, Charles S. Piggott, and James F. King, the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Co. of America, the National Electric Signaling Co. (Fessenden), the International Wireless Co. (Shoemaker), the De Forest Wireless Telegraph Co., the Telefunken Co. (Amalgamated Slaby-Arco and Braun-Siemens-Halske).6


Despite the offer of the Marconi Co. to participate in the tests, when they were requested to provide equipment they interposed objections to having its efficiency judged by short-range tests and stated in a letter to the Bureau of Equipment:
We are, however, not prepared to equip stations at our own expense for the purpose, of demonstrating our ability to communicate across 21 miles, unless under satisfactory contract; because we are doing commercial work at numerous stations in the United States over greater distances, and, as we are communicating regularly and reliably between Cape Cod and Cape Breton, over 800 miles, no outlay for the purpose of demonstrating only commends itself to us.7
They further stated that it was their desire to demonstrate reliable communications over great distances, under varying circumstances, and the working of several circuits simultaneously. They presented, as examples, the recent transatlantic voyages of the steamships Lucania and Duncan. The Lucania had recently received messages the entire voyage from either English or American stations. The Duncan had maintained continuous communication all the way to Gibraltar and while at anchor there.8 Although these accomplishments were of interest to the Navy, it informed the Marconi Co. that the stations selected had been chosen because interference in the vicinity of New York City was probably greater than in any other locality, and that one of the objects of the test was to determine if any of the equipment would operate through interference, and, further, that it preferred to conduct tests in the manner presented, whatever the shortcomings of its modus operandi in the opinion of others. The Bureau further assured the Marconi Co. that, should it desire to enter the competition, it would be given the same opportunity as others to demonstrate its claims, there being no desire to discriminate in favor of anyone. They were advised that after the New York Navy Yard-Navesink tests it was planned to carry out distance tests between ships and shore stations. In further correspondence, the Bureau of Equipment intimated that non-participation in the competition by the Marconi Co. might place them in the position of being open to the suspicion that they feared to compete with other manufacturers of radio apparatus under the prevailing interference conditions in the vicinity of New York.9
    In reply the Marconi Co. stipulated that, prior to undertaking any tests for the U.S. Navy, it required the assurance that successful performance would result in a pecuniary reward proportionate to the service rendered. The same letter contained a veiled warning, which stated that the company was aware that several other "so-called systems," exploited by persons who had, in varying degrees of exactness, copied Marconi apparatus, were claiming the attention of the Bureau. The Marconi interests considered that the Navy should be advised that they had already commenced an action of infringement of patents against the manufacturers of one of these "so-called systems."10 The Bureau of Equipment, in reply, stated that it did not propose to enter into any contingent contract prior to the tests.11
    The American Marconi Co. replied to this by reverting to their old contract procedures and informed the Bureau that it was prepared to contract with the Navy for the use of its system under the following terms:
That the Bureau shall be entitled to use apparatus of the Marconi system having a maximum range of 240 miles, for naval stations on shore in the United States of America and dependencies, and on board U.S. vessels, at a yearly royalty of $50,000 per annum; which annual royalty shall entitle the Bureau for the duration of this contract to the use of all the Marconi apparatus and inventions now in use or which may be acquired later, applicable to such stations.
    That the Bureau will install apparatus of the Marconi system at their stations, paying therefore the current market price--it being understood that the royalty mentioned above shall cover all claims by the Marconi Co. for royalty on apparatus installed by the Bureau.
    That the Bureau will, as far as may be possible, agree to accept messages from vessels equipped with Marconi apparatus and will make such arrangements at naval stations as will:
        (a) Enable intercommunication with vessels of the mercantile marine equipped with the Marconi system.
        (b) Prevent the interference with vessels of the mercantile marine equipped with the Marconi system when communicating with naval vessels.
    That the Marconi Co. agrees to give the Bureau certain preferential rights in the dispatch of naval messages over ordinary messages from their commercial stations now existing or established in the future, which shall, at the convenience of the Marconi Co. remain in operation for the benefit of the Marconi Co.
    That the Bureau shall use such powers as they may have, from time to time, to prevent the interference by other systems with Marconi commercial stations and with naval stations, working together or independently.
    Except in time of either emergency, or war, or in the case of war vessels, the Bureau shall not use the Marconi Wireless apparatus fitted at their stations for the interchange of signals with vessels or stations not equipped with apparatus provided by the Marconi Co.
    That the Bureau shall have the use of a long-distance station, (which term is understood to mean--a station capable of transmitting a message 500 miles and upwards to vessels fitted with suitable receivers) at certain periods on certain terms.
    That the period of the contract shall be for a number of years which will be determined after consultation with the Bureau.12
    The Bureau's reaction to this proposal was decidedly unfavorable, so Marconi officials next addressed an 11-page letter to the Secretary of the Navy, discussing radio-telegraphy from the points of view of the Navy alone, and of the mutual relations of naval and commercial interests, and concluded by stressing why the Marconi system should be adopted.13 This the Bureau considered an "audacious attempt to induce the Government to participate in a monopoly calculated to extinguish other systems, some of which are more promising than the Marconi." Further, the Bureau reiterated the opinion that no radio-telegraph station should be allowed to be established on the coast of the United States which would not receive messages from any properly tuned ship's apparatus, whatever the system.14
    Thus, the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Co. of America effectively eliminated the possibility of early use of its equipment by the branch of the Federal Government which had been assigned the primary governmental responsibility in this field. This condition continued to exist until 1906, when that company, realizing that the Navy would not be a party to the establishment of a radio monopoly, and especially not to a company under the domination of foreign interests, abandoned their policy and offered the outright sale of its equipment.


The March 1903 issue of Scientific American contains an article by Mr. A. Frederick Collins on the Bull system of wireless telegraphy which describes the system and concludes with the following paragraph:
This is the first time in the history of wireless telegraphy that three messages have been transmitted and received simultaneously and selectively and it is also the first time in the history of the art that mechanical methods have been successfully employed in obtaining selectivity. The sending and receiving instruments may be set up at different points and at varying distances, which is a decided advantage over those systems based on pure electrical resonance.
    When brought to their attention, this article evoked considerable interest from the members of the Wireless Telegraph Board. Mr. Anders Bull, of Christiania, Norway, had through his American representative, Mr. O. L. Nichols, of Coudersport, Pa., offered his equipment for tests. The Board accepted this offer and arrangements were concluded for the tests, which began on 12 May 1904. Bull termed his transmitter a "dispenser" and his receiver a "collector." The unique feature of the system was the use of synchronized disks in the "dispenser" and "collector" which controlled the periodicity and length of the emitted waves. During the tests messages were successfully transmitted and recorded, the maximum speed being seven words per minute and the average six. A Morse recorder attached directly to the relay actuating the synchronized portion of the "collector" indicated that a message sent by the "dispenser" could not be intelligently received without the use of the complete "collector." Tests were made to determine the degree of synchronization required. With the "collector" speed varying from 3½ r.p.m. slower to 3¾ r.p.m. higher than the "dispenser" speed, accuracy or reception was not impaired. Tests were also conducted sending messages through different series of the "dispenser," with separate recorders attached to the several series of the "collector" for the purpose of determining that a recorder attached to one series would not print an intelligible message transmitted by a different series. This test was not entirely successful because some of the recorders which should not have recorded did record. No tests were made for distance or interference. Bull did not claim his system immune from interference. During the tests messages were interrupted by transmissions from other stations in the vicinity.15 Upon the completion of these tests, the Bureau asked for a tender for two sets of the Bull apparatus, with certain modifications to permit its successful use at sea.16 In reply, the U.S. Government was offered the exclusive rights to the Bull patents in the United States for the sum of $480,000, or, for $400,000 the right to the manufacture and use of equipment under the Bull patents with the firm reserving the right, and the exclusive right, to sell the use and manufacture of said patent in any other manner it desired.17 The Navy did not deem it advisable to accept either of these proffers.18 Figure 8-1


Despite the criticism of Fessenden made by the Department of Agriculture, the Navy continued negotiations with him. In March 1904, he agreed, with reservations, to accept the conditions imposed by the Navy. In these reservations he brought out that his company had offered, for the testing of his equipment, to place at the disposal of the Navy Department stations operating a distance of 80 miles overland, employing antenna 35 feet high, and using between one-fifteenth and one-quarter horsepower of energy. He objected to the expenses involved in the transfer of the company's apparatus to the New York and Navesink stations, which, with the work essential to putting them in proper operating condition, would amount to about $1,000. Considering the ranges he had obtained during the previous 6 months, he felt that such an expenditure was an act of injustice to his company. In view of the fact that, when the De Forest, Slaby-Arco, Braun, and other equipment were tested, the Department purchased sets of apparatus from them, he felt that the Department was discriminating against his firm by requesting it to make the experiments at its own expense. He requested that the Bureau reconsider the matter or permit the tests to be made between the company's New York and Philadelphia stations. The Bureau replied that, while it was willing to test his apparatus under its conditions, it was not willing to do so under protest, and that, furthermore, the Bureau had outlined the test conditions which were the same for all contestants, no others having been agreed to by the Bureau.19
    There can be little wonder that the Navy had its difficulties in dealing with the amazing and vacillating Fessenden. On 23 May 1904, he proffered two stations at $1 each, capable of communicating 120 miles over water, with the statement:
Our standard price for two stations such as referred to is $12,000, or $6,000 per station, but that our company has decided under the circumstances to tender for a nominal sum.20
    Ever the optimist, a few weeks later Fessenden assured Adm. Henry N. Manney,21 the new Chief of the Bureau of Equipment, that not only could his equipment maintain practically continuous communication between the Nantucket Shoals Lightship and the Naval Radio Station, Montauk Point, the Torpedo Station, Newport, R.I., and Highland Light, Cape Cod, Mass., but, additionally, his recording and calling instruments would operate over 10 percent longer distances with the same reliability and under the same conditions as recording and calling devices used in any other equipment.22
    Following additional correspondence and a number of misunderstandings concerning the rules and regulations under which the tests were to be conducted, the National Electric Signaling Co. began to install its own apparatus23 at the two test stations on 15 August.
    The test program included transmitting and receiving for accuracy and speed, the elimination of interference, a determination if messages could be received and sent between two stations, one equipped with the Slaby-Arco and the other with the Fessenden apparatus.
    Late in August, the Wireless Telegraph Board assembled for the interference tests, with Rodgers and Edgar at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Peters and Fiske at the Highlands, and Jayne aboard the U.S.S. Topeka. In one test a press dispatch of 861 words was received at the station at Brooklyn at the rate of 20 words per minute, with a loss of 2 words of the headline and 2 mistakes in the text. During the period of this transmission, with the exception of intervals of a few minutes, the Topeka was attempting interference by transmitting continuously, while anchored off Tomkinsville, Long Island, distant about 5½ miles from the navy yard.
    The America De Forest Wireless Telegraph Co. had constructed a station adjacent to the lighthouse reservation at Navesink. This was only 168 yards distant from the Navy's station. The Fessenden engineers were given 1 week to show that his "interference preventer" would permit reception during the transmissions of the nearby De Forest station. The end of the week found the undesired signals coming through as strong as on the first day and completely blocking out those transmitted by the Fessenden equipment at the Brooklyn station. It was stated at the time that they weren't really signals but more like power to run a lighting circuit. By letter and by telegraph Fessenden insisted that the difficulty was not due to his set, in which he had so much faith that he could not believe anything could interfere. He came to the station to show his engineers, Messrs. Charles Pannill and Arthur Isbell, how it should be done. After adjusting the receiver to signals from a distant station and balancing it out perfectly, he handed the headphones to Captain Rodgers in high expectation of success. Just as he did so the transmitting key at the De Forest station was closed. Pandemonium broke loose. A huge flash appeared where the fine wire of the electrolytic detector entered the platinum cup holding the dilute acid. The acid sputtered all over the room. The spark streamed between wire and cup like a miniature arc lamp. Against such "power interference" the preventer was far from a success. Taking his disappointment in good grace, Fessenden not only made apologies to his men, but, in order to alleviate the whole situation, ordered his assistant to remove the top from the black box, the contents of which he had maintained secret. Having disclosed them, he proceeded to exhibit and explain the highly intricate circuit to the Board, much to the disgust of Pannill and Isbell, who had so often lugged the heavy box up and down the steep hill to their hotel.24
    Following these tests, radio equipment was needed for fitting the U.S.S. Alabama, Illinois, and Dolphin. Three sets of equipment were purchased from the National Electric Signaling Co. to meet this requirement. These were guaranteed to cover distances up to 250 miles.
    During the trials of the Alabama installation, conducted during January 1905, considerable difficulty was experienced. The maximum distance that signals were received was 70 miles. The transmitted and receiver were both reported inefficient, and considerable corona effect was noted during transmissions. The equipment was not sufficiently rugged for shipboard use, especially in tropical waters where the temperature in the operating room went so high that it caused the Leyden jar condensers to break down.25
    The Commanding Officer of the Alabama, in reporting to the Commander in Chief, North Atlantic Fleet, included the following statement regarding the Fessenden distance trials:
In my opinion, it will be impossible to get any more satisfactory results until the installation is put in better shape.26
Finally, Manney informed the National Electric Signaling Co. that he had directed the Commander in Chief, North Atlantic Fleet, to permit their representatives to install the firm's latest type condensers on the Alabama and the Illinois. If the guarantee, to successfully exchange messages up to 250 nautical miles between these two ships, was not fulfilled before the end of the present fiscal year, the removal of the apparatus would be requested.27 The equipment was improved and retained by the Navy but was never entirely satisfactory and no further purchases were made from that company for several years.


De Forest's equipment was never submitted to the Board for test, probably because at this time he was being kept busy installing new and useless stations, and exploiting his equipment at the St. Louis Exposition. The International Co. was absorbed by the De Forest interests and their equipment was never submitted.
    The Telefunken Co. must have submitted equipments for the tests, but no positive record of this has been located. Mr. George H. Clark states the Board's final recommendation was favorable to this company,28 but the only substantiation of this claim was that four sets of their equipment was purchased at about this time. There are no records to indicate that the equipments of James F. King or George S. Piggott were submitted for test. No equipment from either of the individuals was ever purchased by the Navy.


The testing, which continued through 1904 and a portion of 1905, culminated with a final report, which, according to a later account of Mr. George H. Clark, stated that Telefunken equipment was the most desirable from the point of view of the Board.29 While such may have been the expressed opinion at the time, following purchases of Slaby-Arco equipments, in 1903, most of the Navy's radio devices were purchased from American manufacturers. Subsequent events indicate that the Wireless Telegraph Board was dissolved sometime early in 1905. Lt. Comdr. S. S. Robison, USN,30 relieved Jayne as Head of the Radio Division, Bureau of Equipment, late in 1904. Beginning early in 1905 he personally supervised the tests of equipment of various manufacturers. It is possible that the "Board system" was found to be too unwieldy to satisfy the requirements of a rapidly expanding system. Even during the period of its existence, actions were taken which indicate that its work was not looked upon with too high favor, and it cannot be said that it accomplished anything of note. Figure 8-2


One of the most difficult problems confronting the Radio Division, Bureau of Equipment, was providing radio communication service with the newly acquired Panama Canal Zone. This necessitated high-powered stations at Key West, Fla.; San Juan, P.R.; U.S. Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; and in the Canal Zone, Panama. To provide these stations the Bureau of Equipment requested estimates and detailed specifications from the only two American firms which appeared to have the capabilities of providing this equipment, the National Electric Signaling Co. and the American De Forest Wireless Telegraph Co. The successful bidder for the four radio stations would be required to guarantee the maintaining of successful communications between Key West, or some point on the mainland near Cape Florida, and Guantanamo Bay; between Guantanamo Bay and San Juan or some point in the Puerto Rico, and, between Guantanamo Bay and one of the highest points in the Panama Canal Zone. The Navy's letter additionally stipulated:
Communication to be established between any one of these stations and naval vessels equipped with wireless telegraph apparatus within the radius of communication from the ship, and messages to be received by ships at sea between any two of the stations which communicate with each other.31
    The National Electric Signaling Co. tendered a bid of $315,000 for the installation and adjustment of their equipment in the four stations and for licensing it for use by the Navy. This did not include power supply, radio masts, nor buildings. In the same letter the company outlined its guarantees and claims, with typical Fessenden extravagance. The following is a paragraph of this letter stating their claims:
We claim our system is the most reliable, does not require the constant and delicate adjustment which other systems do -- Is much less subject to interference from atmospheric disturbances and from other stations -- Is specially constructed with reference to convenience of operation and low cost maintenance -- That messages can be sent and received much more rapidly than with any coherer system -- It is especially constructed for use in moist and tropical climates -- It is much more sensitive and requires less power to operate than other systems -- Its operation is easily learned and messages can be sent at the rate of 30 to 40 words per minutes -- It will, with the same power, transmit messages from two or three times further than any other system -- No other apparatus which does not infringe our patents can successfully operate at longer distances than twenty-five (25) miles. -- It will transmit code messages correctly under atmospheric or interference conditions when a coherer system could not operate at all. Ships operating this system can read messages from Marconi or Slaby-Arco systems at from two to three times the distances that ships equipped with Marconi or Slaby-Arco systems can communicate with each other -- Ships equipped with the Fessenden system can, when desired, communicate with each other to the full working distances without Marconi or Slaby-Arco equipped vessels in the near neighborhood being able to detect that communication was taking place.32
    The firm guaranteed communication between the four stations; that Fessenden equipped vessels, having 130-foot masts, would be able to receive communications from either one or the other of two communicating stations while between them; that vessels equipped with apparatus equally as sensitive and reliable as Fessenden apparatus could receive communications from either one or the other of the two communicating stations while between them; and that vessels equipped with Marconi or Slaby-Arco equipments would be able to communicate with the four stations over greater distances than they could with stations of the Marconi or Slaby-Arco type. They guaranteed to defend, at their own expense, any and all suits brought against the Government for infringement or alleged infringement of patents due to the use of apparatus sold or installed by them.33 The license clause submitted as part of this tender differed from that of the Marconi companies. The latter permitted the use of its equipment for commercial traffic but required the tolls be paid them. The National Electric Signaling Co.'s clause prohibited the use of the equipment for the handling of commercial traffic. The contract for the three Fessenden equipments, purchased at about this time, for installation in naval vessels did not include such a proviso. This license clause was not acceptable to the Navy since there was no intention of purchasing equipment with restriction as to its usage. The company was adamant and their refusal to abandon it eliminated consideration of their bid.34
    Following the elimination of the National Electric Signaling Co., by its own action, the American De Forest Radio Co. was awarded the largest single contract for radio equipment yet entered into by the Navy. This called for the provision and installation of three 35-kw. transmitters, together with receiving apparatus with telephone attachment and call bell, antenna, and ground systems and all accessories, one each at Key West, Fla., Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, San Juan, P.R., and the Canal Zone at a total cost of $58,666. A fifth unit, identical with the others except that the transmitter was only 10 kw., was added for installation at Pensacola, Fla., at a cost of $7000. The Navy was required to provide power, radio masts, and buildings and transport the equipment to locations outside the continental limits.35
    The provisions of the contract required the contractor to furnish satisfactory bond in the amount of $16,416 as a guarantee for the faithful performance of the contract; that the contractor, in addition to supplying all labor necessary to satisfactorily make and install the apparatus, would also provide the services of skilled operators to care for and use the apparatus for such time as would be necessary to satisfy the Bureau of Equipment that the conditions of the contract were fulfilled; that the contractor would protect the Government against all claims for infringement of patents which might arise from the use of apparatus to be supplied under the contract; that the contractor guarantee to complete the installations within 6 months from date of contract, and to have same in satisfactory operation within that time, provided the Bureau of Equipment erected the necessary masts, buildings, and machinery within 5 months from date of contract; and provided also that any delay beyond the 5 months in erecting above masts and supplying power would be added to time allowed the contractor; provided, further, it could be shown that such delay had caused the contractor any delay in the execution of his contract. No payment was to be made until it was demonstrated to the Bureau of Equipment that all material and labor required under the contract had been supplied, and the radio service provided by its terms had been satisfactorily established.36
    The time clause of the above-noted provision was invoked by the company, on 16 December 1904, when White, its president, notified the Bureau of Equipment that it would be inadvisable to ship the apparatus to distant places like Panama, Puerto Rico, and Guantanamo Bay until storage suitable for protecting it against the elements was provided and facilities for installing it were afforded his company.37


On the date of the signing of the contract with the American De Forest Wireless Telegraph Co. the Bureau advised the National Electric Signaling Co. of its action.38 Learning of this the same day Mr. H. W. Young, attorney for the National Electric Signaling Co., in a letter to Mr. Hay Walker, Jr., who, with Thomas H. Given, provided the financial support of the company, noted that "we will be unable to do any business with the Navy unless we come to their terms, particularly in that relating to licenses which they will utterly refuse to consider. If we do not furnish apparatus without any license restriction, I feel certain that we might as well refrain from bidding."39 This letter brought out various points concerning the Navy's position. Although the price the National Electric Signaling Co. quoted was nominal in comparison with the cost of cable, that was, a matter the Navy Department would not consider, since they took the stand that it was simply a case of meeting competition and not a case of comparing the cost of radio with those of cables. In making this cost comparison the company had furnished the Navy with a memorandum, one paragraph of which reads:
Such a cable would, however, not by any means be the equivalent of the wireless stations referred to as by the contract any one wireless station is to be capable of communicating with any other, while if the cable were cut at any one point, it would sever all communication. An exact equivalent, more especially for military purpose would be cables connecting every one of the four points direct to every other one, which would call for approximately 4,400 miles of cable the cost of laying which would be in the neighborhood of $3,000.00. In addition, communication between U.S. war vessels and shore would not of course be accomplished if cables were used.40
    Young continued, stating that the company would have to accede to the Navy's demands or relinquish any hopes of obtaining contracts. He closed his comment with this statement:
I believe the entire Navy business can be summed up in saying that if we wish to do business with them, the contracts must be drawn without license restrictions, guarantees made exceedingly broad, forfeits put up and the price made competitive with other people now in the market.
Commenting upon the De Forest Co. he considered they could afford to make the above concessions since their revenues would be derived from selling stock and not from the profits on installations.41
    Events were soon to prove the correctness of Young's last statement. With the contract signed, sealed, and delivered Abraham White, alive to its stock selling potential, had this factless statement inserted in the press:
With the greatest care the Government experts conducted most rigid tests and reported that the De Forest system already executing Government contracts on a smaller scale, was the one which offered the best service although its terms were higher than those of other companies. During the tests, which extended over a period of several months, seven wireless stations were in simultaneous operation in the same magnetic field and yet long messages were successfully transmitted and received by the De Forest system. This achievement, regarded by the government expert as the greatest in the history of the science, was possible only by the utilization of "syntonic aerography" in which the De Forest attuning apparatus is employed. It is a source of pardonable patriotic pride that this remarkable instrument is the product of the inventive genius of Lee De Forest, Ph.D. (Yale), a young American, who has been responsible for so much of the wonderful progress made in wireless work within the past 10 years. In the war maneuvers of 1902, and again in 1903, the Government experts reported that this was the only system that operated under all the difficulties attendant on the work and the service during the recent tests conclusively demonstrated that ability of utilizing it to transmit messages without interference because of the location of similar stations in the same magnetic zone and with the possibility of their interception by other systems totally eliminated. As a result the Government has entered into a reciprocal contract with the company which makes them, in a sense, allies.
    By its terms--and this is the most important consideration to the business world--commercial messages are exchangeable between all stations and ships equipped with the De Forest instruments, whether maintained by the government or by the company. For this purpose all the war vessels of the American Navy will be equipped with the De Forest attuned apparatus, and all messages will be transmitted between war vessels and passenger steamers, and between land stations irrespective of whether they are under the control of the Government or the company. The chain of communication thus established is practically one system operated in part by the Government and partly by the De Forest Co. It is understood that having thus adopted the De Forest system and entered into such a combination with the company controlling it, the Government is guaranteed against the employment of the system in any manner which might prove detrimental to its interests and it is reported that its exclusive use for war vessels has been guaranteed to the U.S. Navy.42
    Upon becoming aware of this published item, the National Electric Signaling Co. immediately requested clarification of the Bureau concerning the statements appearing in the press. It requested verification of the statements to the effect that "all the war vessels of the American Navy will be equipped with the De Forest apparatus"; that the Government had "adopted the De Forest system and entered into a combination with the company controlling it"; and, that the Navy contracts "for the Gulf of Mexico," as it phrased it, had been awarded as the result of "most rigid tests conducted by Government experts, extending over several months, who reported that the De Forest system was the one which offered the best service, though its terms were higher than those of other companies."43 Fessenden also contacted Jayne, and provided him with a copy of the article sent out to the press by the De Forest Co. He regarded this as a distortion of facts and asked that the Department issue a simple statement stating the true facts without prejudice to either party.44
    In reply to these questions and the request, the Bureau stated that it could not be concerned with the various newspaper articles which appeared from time to time on the subject and that it did not care to express an opinion regarding their accuracy. However, the statements, to which the National Electric Signaling Co. referred, were not true, and the purchase of the instruments was not the result of any tests conducted by the Bureau.45
    Later, the Bureau of Equipment did protest the inclusion of the statement, "Used and indorsed by the U.S. Government" on the letterheads of the American De Forest Wireless Telegraph Co. This afforded White an opportunity to state the justification for such use by reporting that, in 1902, during the war maneuvers, its system was employed by the Signal Corps, U.S. Army, and in an official report of that year the Chief Signal Officer had highly endorsed and approved its use by the Army. In 1903 the system was again used successfully by the Signal Corps, and in 1904 the Navy gave the De Forest firm the largest radio contract ever granted by the Government. The firm knew that it told the truth when it stated that the Government endorsed its system, and White wished to go on record that he considered it unjust to be requested to refrain from using what he considered a true statement. In justification he analogized that chowchow pickles were used and endorsed by Her Majesty, the late Queen Victoria of England, and the labels on the bottles so stated, yet he did not doubt that the Queen used other pickles as well. Since the firm had never stated, so far as he was able to determine, that the Government used the De Forest system exclusively, the Bureau had no cause to read that meaning into the statement.46 Forced to agreed with the legality of White's position, the Bureau withdrew its objection and thereby provided unwilling assistance to his fraudulent schemes. In passing, it is only fair to add that, from that time, no further purchases were made from the American De Forest Co., nor from its successor, the United Wireless Co.47
    The specified date of completion of the stations for the Caribbean circuits was far more optimistic than any which could have reasonably been expected under existing circumstances. There were delays for which the Navy was responsible, others caused by "acts of God," some by lack of understanding of tropical terrain and atmospheric conditions. White, with his experience in avoiding contractual responsibilities, had little difficulty in convincing the Navy Department that his company should not be held responsible or penalized for failure to meet the time requirements.
    All the stations were completed by late 1905 except the one at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. This was not completed until early 1906. Except during periods of intense atmospheric disturbances the stations were able to communicate with each other as well as could be expected considering the state of the art at that time.
    The experiences during the construction of the station at Guantanamo Bay are of interest since they described the difficulties in constructing radio stations at that period. The Navy's base on this bay was at that time a dense jungle interspersed with low sand flats. The exact location for radio installation had been selected in Washington, well to the northern end of the bay, across a narrow inlet from the village of Bogueron. This location was chosen to provide it with maximum protection from seaward bombardment. It was on a desolate, almost inaccessible coral promontory entirely lacking of good ground facilities. At this "hellhole of wireless," and "paradise for mosquitoes, fleas, horned toads, snakes, scorpions, centipedes, tarantulas, wildcats, and all other kinds of tropical pests, flying and crawling," as De Forest described it, he and his assistant, Mr. Frank Butler, learned many lessons in the construction of radio stations in tropical areas. The consensus of opinion of the construction force was contained in a printed sign above the door of the operating building which read, "Abandon hope, all ye who enter here, for verily this is hell."48 A monitor, the U.S.S. Amphridite, was anchored in the harbor and served as headquarters for the entire reservation. Its commanding officer was also in charge of the station. She had brought the officers and men for the construction of the new base, including the radio towers and buildings. Three electrician's mates, John Watts, Roscoe Kent, and V. Ford Greaves, were assigned to assist Butler in his work.
    The three masts for the station, each 208 feet high, had been towed from the States and erected at the corners of a 300-foot triangle, with the building housing the equipment centered in the area. From a stout cable, connecting the tops, 45 individually insulated, stranded phosphor bronze wires were suspended from each of the 3 masts. The lower ends of these 135 wires were soldered together into a large "rattail" at the center, anchored by a wooden frame, and led through a large porcelain insulator into the condenser room. In writing of it, Butler said:
The huge cage resembled a giant gold fish globe 200 feet high, and months afterward, when the station was in operation the nest of wires would emit a bluish discharge at night which was beautiful beyond description and always proved of unending awe to the natives who would stand off from afar and gaze in open-mouth wonder.49
    Week after week new and unforseen troubles presented themselves, and it seemed they were waging a hopeless battle against nature. The following notes from Butler's diary give a vivid picture of the struggle:
June 5th. Big 50 H.P. motor generator blew up, damaging armature.
    June 12th. Commenced repairing damaged trays in condensers.
    June 14th. Lined condenser trays with portland cement.
    July 13th. Terrific storm 2:30 a.m. Lightning struck station bursting an entire room full of condensers--just finished after two weeks of hard work--throwing oil and plate glass all over the room and into the walls.
    August 21st. Small cyclone struck us.
    August 31st. Lightning struck the station at 4:15 p.m. blowing up one set of condensers.
    September 5th. No fresh water. Had to drink salt water all day.
    September 24th. Another entire span of 15,000 feet antenna wire blew down.
    September 27th. Touched off station again and blower motor blew up.
    October 8th. Herd of horses from workmen's camp broke corral in night and demolished the guy wires on the entire aerial spans twisting wires badly.
    October 15th Earthquake 4:43 p.m. while eating supper.50
    But despite the endless delays, setbacks, and discouragements, the struggle continued until, finally, the installation was completed and ready for tests. When these were commenced it was discovered that with the two-coil slider, the principal tuning device, it was impossible to eliminate the constant and terrific static. De Forest realized that it was necessary to improve the tuner or fail to meet the contract specifications. The resulting adverse publicity would certainly cause the loss of sales of stock. De Forest therefore hastened to New York to attack this problem. Faced with necessity, he invented the pancake tuner which became one of the chief elements of the success of the tropical installations.51
    By March 1906, all the troubles had been overcome and communications were established and maintained with the other stations to the satisfaction of the Navy. Butler wrote, "When the end finally came, when my work was finished, I was more than overjoyed to get away from that place of trials, but I was sorrowful to leave my three faithful naval companions, Watts, Kent and Greaves."52.
    An interesting sidelight in connection with the construction of these stations quickly brought it to the attention of the world by the publicity-minded De Forest Co. After the completion of the Key West installation, that company built a station at Manhattan Beach, Coney Island, which was to be "the daddy of them all."53 This giant, America's first 50-kw. radio station, with its two 210-foot wooden towers, was located in a salt-water swamp which was considered to be a perfect location for oversea operations. On the night of 19 December 1905, this station was heard by the Navy's newly completed Canal Zone station. This was considered a remarkable feat and provided sufficient encouragement to cause Manney to permit an official statement to be issued which read, in part:
The distance between Colon and Manhattan Beach, the extreme range of the message, is 2,150 miles. So extraordinary was this feat that the Bureau hesitated about making it public, and has only done so after receiving corroborative evidence from several points. This not only beats any previous record made by the Bureau but it beats the record of the first transatlantic cable, which reached only 1,860 miles from the west coast of Ireland to Newfoundland.54
Figure 8-3

At about the time the stations for the Caribbean circuits were completed, the Navy placed an order with the American De Forest Co. for electrolytic detectors. The purchase of these was protested by the Fessenden interests, who claimed De Forest was infringing their patent. With Fessenden's anger at the boiling point, the letter carrying the protest contained the following paragraph:
Before taking the action to which I have been advised I have decided to endeavor to bring the matter before His Excellency the President of the United States, in the hope that his strong sense of justice will lead to a change in the present departmental practice in regard to inventions.
Fessenden continued the letter, asking the Secretary if he preferred to arrange that his firm have the opportunity of presenting its case before the President, with a view to ascertaining the possibility for some ruling or legislation by which the departments of the U.S. Government should recognize the decision of the Patent Office and of the U.S. courts in regard to property rights in inventions, and in regard to compensation to be made, or would he prefer for him to make the arrangements through the Senator of his State.55
    The question as to the validity of the protest was referred to the Secretary of the Navy, who directed the purchasing authority as follows:
Respectfully returned to the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts, with instructions to disregard, in awarding this contract, the protest of the National Electric Signaling Co. The Department holds that the bids received indicate so strongly the probability that this company is asking an extortionate price of the Government that it feels it is relieved of any moral obligation which might otherwise exist in the premises--without deciding that any such obligation would exist--to lend its aid to the vindication of the legal rights of the said company under the patents it claims.56
    Failing in his attempt to intimidate the Secretary of the Navy, Fessenden next resorted to the failure of the American De Forest Wireless Telegraph Co. to meet the dates specified in their contract as a means of continuing his unrelenting belaborings. In another letter to the Secretary of the Navy his company stated:
We are reliably informed that though two years have elapsed since the De Forest Co. was given the contract these stations are not yet complying with the terms of the contract, i.e., are not communicating regularly with each other, not being able to communicate, in the case of a majority of the stations, at all during daylight, and not regularly during the nighttime.
    Our company pointed out at the time the contract was let that the contracting parties would not be able to maintain regular communication with the stations proposed, and at the price quoted and it would now appear that our prediction has been verified and that the Navy Department has paid a large sum of money for stations which are inoperative during the greater part of the time.57
This letter informed the Secretary that the Fessenden firm had erected two stations, of the type which it had proposed to furnish in the West Indies, which had been able to communicate at night and for some hours of daylight over a distance of 3,000 miles, and there was no question that these would be able to work at all times of the day and year between the Navy's West Indian sites, since none were more than 1,000 miles apart. It advised that had the Navy Department accepted the National Electric Signaling Co.'s bid it would have obtained stations capable of operating reliably and they would have been in operation years ago; therefore, they "would respectfully protest against the matter being left as it now stands." Since the De Forest Co. failed to fulfill its contract, the Navy Department "has been deceived into paying out a large sum of money for inoperative apparatus." The firm did not hesitate to offer its advice, stating:
We would respectfully suggest that the Navy Department bring suit against the De Forest Co. for the return of the money paid out, on the ground that the stations are not maintaining regular communication as called for by the contract, and that the time for the completion of these stations is now more than a year overdue, and that the contract with the De Forest Co. be canceled and the tender of the National Electric Signaling Co. for these stations be accepted.
If their advice proved acceptable they guaranteed to erect stations, capable of regular communication which would fulfill all the terms of the contract, in less than half the time taken by the De Forest Co.58
    Intent upon keeping their complaints in the forefront, they followed this 5 days later with another letter which stated:
We would respectfully call attention to the great waste of public money on the part of the Department though the purchase of cheap and inferior wireless apparatus, purchased from inexperienced makers who have but little knowledge of the requirements of practical wireless telegraphy and who make a living by pirating the inventions of other companies.59
This letter continued with an offer to supply the Navy with apparatus at $12,500 per set.
    The reply to these letters included the following statements of the Bureau of Equipment:
    The National Electric Signaling Co.'s latest bid for wireless telegraph sets suitable for ship's use is $12,500 per set.
    At such a price a contract for 25 sets, as referred to in paragraph 4 of the enclosed letter, would involve an expenditure of $300,000, which is a greater sum than the appropriation available for wireless telegraphy will warrant.
    The apparatus supplied by this company now in use is giving satisfaction, but not more so than other sets installed.
    The company refuses to sell any apparatus supplied by it unless purchased in entire sets. For instance, the interference preventer can be attached to any receiving apparatus using a telephone, but the company refuses to sell unless the other parts of an entire set are purchased at the same time.
    The Bureau will request the detail of an officer to inspect and report on all of the apparatus enumerated in the second sentence of paragraph 4 within whenever the company is ready to present it for test.
    The Bureau's experience with apparatus furnished by this company is to the effect that it is subject to the same defects in many respects as apparatus furnished by other wireless telegraph companies.
    The statements in paragraph are in line with previous statements by this company; viz: that its apparatus covers all possible good points of all wireless telegraph apparatus. This is not sustained in practice.
    The Bureau recommends that the company be informed that offers by it for apparatus, whole sets or for separate attachments, such as secrecy senders, interference preventers, antiatmosphere apparatus, and intensity regulators, will be considered if priced separately and prices based to a certain extent on the cost of manufacture.
    The Bureau considers the company's present prices altogether too high.60
    Following this, neither the records of the Navy Department nor those of the National Electric Signaling Co. disclose further correspondence on this or on related matters, except a copy of a letter, dated April 1907, which Fessenden was, by the company records, purported to have sent President Roosevelt. This states that he had been advised to bring action before a U.S. court for the disbarment of a member of the President's Cabinet for the commission of a most unjust and improper act punishable by a term of imprisonment when committed by one not occupying an official position. He considered it only proper that he lay the matter before the President, personally, before taking this action. His Secretary of the Navy, Bonaparte, had permitted the purchase of property from a party whom the U. S. courts had already decided, in no less than four decisions, was not the owner of this property. Moreover, he had allowed this despite several formal protests on the part of the parties whom the court had adjudged to be the owners of the property, although the decisions of the courts had been called to his attention, both by personal interview and by copies of the decisions. Handwritten on the copy of this letter is the notation "No reply received."61


The Stone Telegraph & Telephone Co. of Boston, Mass., on 11 March 1905, made application to the Chief of the Bureau of Equipment for permission to install a selective system of radio invented and patented by Mr. John Stone Stone, at four stations, the navy yard, Charlestown, Highland Light Station, Cape Cod, and Thatcher's Island Station, Mass.; and the navy yard, Kittery, Maine.62
    These installations were to be at the expense of the company, as was the instruction of the Government operators in its maintenance and use. The use of the apparatus was to be allowed for Government purposes for a period of 3 months from the date of the installation, after which it was to be removed by the applicants, or turned over permanently to the Government on mutually agreed upon terms. The company claimed that each of the four stations could communicate with any of the others at will to the exclusion of the others, but without interference to simultaneous operation. It guaranteed entire freedom from disturbances caused by atmospheric, electrical, or other conditions. Messages would be received at all times with clearness and precision equal to the best wire service, and the speed of transmission would be limited only by the ability of the operators. The apparatus to be furnished would be commercially complete in all respects, of such simplicity as to be readily manipulated by any government operator after instruction, and so constructed as to be free from injury by any error in manipulation.63
    The firm proposed to make the installations at the first two of the above-mentioned stations forthwith, and at the others as soon as the apparatus could be manufactured. Accompanying the offer was a copy of a seven-page report, dated 3 March 1905, on the Stone wireless telegraph system by Mr. Louis Duncan, a consulting engineer, the first paragraph of which describes the nature of the system briefly:
The system of the Stone Wireless Telegraph Company is a selective system designed to transmit messages by electric waves of a determinate character; and at the receiving end to receive only the messages transmitted by the waves to which the particular station is tuned. To do this, the sending apparatus is so arranged that a simple harmonic electrical wave of any desired period or frequency is used for sending, while the receiving mechanism is rendered selective in its actions by means of resonant circuits made responsive to waves of only one period. If electrical waves of other periods impinge on the conductor at the receiving station, the registering apparatus will not be influenced, provided the period of the waves is outside of the region of selectivity. In other systems of wireless telegraphy, the sending station produces waves that are composed of a number of periods, while the receiving stations are not so arranged as to select signals sent from one station. It is evident that unless the sending station can produce waves of one period only, it will be impossible to so construct the receiving station as to put it in selective connection with any particular sending station. It is also necessary, of course, that the receiving station shall receive within narrow limits waves of one definite period only.64
    In March the Bureau expressed its willingness to permit the installations at the Boston, Mass., and Portsmouth, N.H., Navy Yard and on the U.S.S. Lebanon, then being fitted out at the latter port.65 This offer was accepted and the installations were made. Tests were conducted between the Boston and Portsmouth stations which were observed by Robison. During the greater part of these tests, the Highland Light Station transmitted on the same frequency with full power but caused no interference. Later, when using the navy yard station to create interference and the Stone Co.'s station in Boston for receiving the Portsmouth station's transmissions, the navy yard signals could not be eliminated unless the transmitter power was reduced so as to give maximum signal strength in the receiver but little greater than the maximum signal strength of Portsmouth's signal.66
    Robison's complete technical report included the fact that the transmitter appeared to disseminate a single frequency rather than the usual two. He recommended that the sets at Boston and Portsmouth be purchased under certain provisions, one of which was that the company guarantee to protect the Government against all claims for infringements of patents on the apparatus supplied. Earlier in November the company had offered the Bureau of Equipment eight of its sets at prices ranging from $3,000 to $3,500 each, and this offer was accepted. Those installed at Boston, Portsmouth, and on the Lebanon were among the eight.67 Figure 8-4


The Scientific American edition of 20 May 1905 carried a Supplement which contained an article by Mr. A. Frederick Collins entitled "The Massie Wireless Telegraph System." At that time this system was in use at the Block Island and Point Judith, R. I., stations of the Providence (R. I.) Journal and at the Wilson Point Station used by the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railway in the control of their steamers plying Long Island Sound. The Block Island Station habitually was able to copy vessels, contacting the Nantucket Shoals Lightship when they were 60 miles from that vessel inbound, or about 150 miles from Block Island.
    The article stated that Massie's system combined the advantages of the coherer and microphonic detector by using the former only as a call-bell detector and an improved form of the latter for aural reception.68
    This article also evinced the interest of Robison and when, later in that year, the Navy required additional radio equipment the Massie Wireless Telegraph Co. was provided with the specifications and requested to submit its bid, along with the International Wireless Telegraph Construction Co., the Telefunken Co., the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Co. of America, and the American De Forest Wireless Telegraph Co. A contract was awarded them for the delivery of 10 complete sets of equipment to be delivered to the New York Navy Yard by 15 January 1906. Two of these were to be supplied with 15-kw., two with 10-kw., three with 5-kw. and three with 3-kw. transmitters. The total amount of the contract was $15,000.69 A change in the contract increased the number of complete sets to 13 with 5 having 5-kw. and 4 having 3-kw transmitters.


It has been previously mentioned that Shoemaker became an engineer for the American De Forest Co. when it absorbed the International Co. He remained in their employ a few months and then resigned because of a disagreement with De Forest. With Firth, he established the International Wireless Telegraph Construction Co. and immediately began to build rugged reliable radio equipments. Although his firm was sued for infringement by the De Forest interests he was able to remain in business several years but when Firth, because of a disagreement, left the company and withdrew his financial support, he again fell into the clutches of Abraham White who had gained control of the firm.70
    At the time the Massie Wireless Telegraph Co. was awarded their contract, Shoemaker was awarded one for 21 complete sets of apparatus. Five of these were supplied with 5-kw., nine with 3-kw., one with 2.5-kw., three with 2-kw., two with 1.7-kw. and one with 1.25-kw. transmitters.71 This equipment came to be regarded as the best of its time by naval radio operators. Shoemaker was a most capable radio engineer and had he been able to obtain adequate financial support he might have established a continuing business. Eventually, he became associated with the Marconi interests.


In addition to the above, two additional installations were purchased from the American De Forest Co., four from Telefunken, three from the Massachusetts Wireless Equipment Co., and one from the W. J. Clarke Co.72


Between the time when the second order for Slaby-Arco equipment was placed and the end of 1906 the Navy had purchased the following equipment for installation:

International Telegraph Construction Co. (Shoemaker)
5     5=kw. transmitters:
          St. Augustine and Jupiter Inlet, Fla.; U.S.S. Montana, Idaho and North Carolina.
2     l.7=kw. transmitters:
          U.S.S. Charleston and Rhode Island.
1     2.5=kw. transmitter:
          U.S.S. Pennsylvania.
1     l.25=kw. transmitter:
          U.S.S. Maryland.
9     3=kw. transmitters:
          South Dakota, Virginia, Connecticut, Washington, Tennessee, New Jersey, Louisiana, St. Louis and California.
3     2=kw. transmitters:
          U.S.S. Ohio and Milwaukee; Puget Sound Navy Yard, Wash.

Massie Telephone and Telegraph Co.
5     5=kw. transmitters:
          Beaufort, N. C.; Charleston, S. C.; Table Bluff, Oreg.; Point Loma and Farralones Islands, Calif.
2     15=kw. transmitters:
          Washington, D. C. and Tatoosh Island, Wash.
2     10=kw. transmitters:
          Cape Blanco, Oreg. and North Head, Wash.
4     3=kw. transmitters:
          Point Arguello, Calif.; Puget Sound Navy Yard, Wash. (2); Cape Henlopen, Del.

Stone Telephone and Telegraph Co.
3     5=kw. transmitters:
          U.S.S. Kansas and Mississippi: U. S. Naval Academy, Annapolis Md.
1     3=kw. transmitter:
          U.S.S. Minnesota.
4     2=kw. transmitters:
          U.S.S. Georgia and Lebanon: Boston, Mass and Portsmouth, N. H.

National Electric Signaling Co. (Fessenden)
3     1=kw. transmitters:
          U.S.S. Illinois, Alabama and Dolphin.

American De Forest Wireless Telegraph Co.
4     35=kw. transmitters:
          Key West, Fla.; Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Canal Zone.
1     10=kw. transmitter:
          Pensacola, Fla.
1     2=kw. transmitter:
          U.S.S. Colorado.
1     3.5=kw. transmitter:
          U.S.S. West Virginia.

Telefunken Co.
1     6=kw. transmitter:
          New Orleans, La.
2     3=kw. transmitters:
          U.S.S. Nebraska and Vermont.
1     1=kw. transmitter:
          Lightship Number 78

Massachusetts Wireless Equipment Co. (Pierce)
Three sets reported purchased. Specifications not given.

W. J. Clark Co.
One portable set for Guantanamo.

    All of the above sets were supplied with at least one receiver.73
    The Secretary of the Navy's report of 1906 contains this statement:
It is the policy of the Bureau to purchase different types of wireless apparatus from the various manufacturers in this country for installation in ships and shore stations, in order to encourage competition. It is believed that this method of procedure, together with the stimulus afforded by prospective commercial profits, has produced a development of the art in this country equal if not superior to that attained abroad."74
The record supports the statement, for equipment was bought from practically all available manufacturers.
    The 1906 "Wireless Stations of the World," issued by the Navy, lists the numbers of naval radio installations of that year as: Slaby-Arco and Telefunken, 51; Shoemaker, 21; De Forest, 9; Fessenden, 3; Stone, 8; Massie, 13; total, 105. This indicates that 48.5 per cent of the equipment in use was of German manufacture although by this time they were, to a large degree, composite sets. The original German transmitters had been modified to give a 500-cycle note, instead of the original 50-cycle one, by increasing the number of segments in the mercury turbine interrupter. This improvement was brought about by the experiments of a Navy operator named Woberton. The Slaby-Arco receivers had been modified in various manners and the coherers had been replaced by electrolytic or magnetic and, in some instances, by shipboard-made detectors.

    1 In 1902 President Roosevelt mistakenly warned Germany that he would send an American fleet to Venezuela to prevent any violation of the Monroe Doctrine. In late 1903 occurred the Panamanian Revolution for which our Government was somewhat responsible. In the same year relations between Russia and Japan were near a breaking point. These deteriorated still further and resulted in war in 1904. In the same year, President Roosevelt notified France and Germany that, if they came to the aid of Russia, he would "promptly side with Japan and proceed to whatever length was necessary on her behalf" (David Sayville Muzzey, "A History of Our Country" (Ginn & Co., Boston, 1939), pp. 565-570.
    2 Letter, dated 16 Apr. 1904, Chief of the Bureau of Equipment to the Commandant, Navy Yard, New York, N.Y. files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
    3 Letter, dated 18 Aug. 1902, Chief of the Bureau of Equipment to Comdr. Conway H. Arnold, USN, files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
    4 Letter, dated 16 Apr. 1904, Chief of the Bureau of Equipment to Capt. John A. Rodgers, USN, Senior Member, Wireless Telegraph Board; files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
    5 Letter, dated 2 Apr. 1904, Chief of the Bureau of Equipment to Capt. John A. Rodgers, USN, "Conditions Governing Tests of Wireless Telegraph Apparatus Carried on Between the Naval Wireless Telegraph Station at Navesink, N.J., and the New York Navy Yard," files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
    6 The German Kaiser, in 1903, directed the amalgamation of the Slaby-Arco and Braun-Siemens-Halske Companies. The new company, Gesellschaft für Drathtlose Telegraphie, became commonly known as Telefunken.
    7 Letter, dated 2 May 1904, Marconi Wireless Telegraph Co. of America to the Chief of the Bureau of Equipment, files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
    8 Ibid.
    9 Letter, dated 4 May 1904, Chief of the Bureau of Equipment to the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Co. of America, files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
    10 Letter, dated 18 May 1904, Marconi Wireless Telegraph Co. of America to the Chief of the Bureau of Equipment, files Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
    11 Letter, dated 4 May 1904, from Chief of the Bureau of Equipment to the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Co. of America, files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
    12 Letter, dated 21 June 1904, Marconi Wireless Telegraph Co. of America to Chief of the Bureau of Equipment, files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
    13 Letter, dated 20 Aug. 1904, Marconi Wireless Telegraph Co. of America to Secretary of the Navy, files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
    14 Letter, dated 13 Sept. 1904, Chief of the Bureau of Equipment to Secretary of the Navy, files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
    15 Report of Wireless Telegraph Board, n.d., files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
    16 Letter, dated 29 June 1904, Chief of the Bureau of Equipment to Mr. O. L. Nichols, Coudersport, Pa., files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
    17 Letter, dated 23 Sept. 1904, Mr. O. L. Nichols, Coudersport, Pa. to the Chief of the Bureau of Equipment, files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
    18 Letter, dated 16 Jan. 1905, Chief of the Bureau of Equipment to Mr. Anders Bull, Christiania, Norway, files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
    19 "Radioana," Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass., files, National Electric Signaling Co.
    20 Op. cit.
    21 Manney was born in Indiana, appointed a midshipman from Minnesota, and graduated from the Naval Academy in 1866. He became Chief of the Bureau of Equipment in 1904 and held this post until he retired early in 1906. He died at San Diego, Calif., in 1915.
    22 Letter, dated 8 June 1904, R. A. Fessenden to the Bureau of Equipment, "Radioana," files, National Electric Signaling Co.; "Tests of the Fessenden System of Wireless," n.d., files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
    23 In this apparatus, the transmitter consisted of a rotary converter, providing an alternating current of 70 volts; an oil transformer giving a current of either 12,500 or 25,000 volts; a fixed spark gap with a conducting disk halfway between the discharging knobs with muffler; a condenser utilizing some dielectric other than glass; and an inductance coil. The receiver consisted of a tuning coil, electrolytic detector, telephone, and usual batteries, resistances, and condensers. The aerial was a cage 60 feet long with six no. 16 copper wires, the six taken together forming a rope or "rattail" 160 long leading from the cage to the receiver (Tests of the Fessenden System of Wireless), n.d. files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
    24 Helen M. Fessenden, "Fessenden--Builder of Tomorrows" (Coward-McCann, Inc., New York, 1940.), p. 123.
    25 Letter, dated 28 Jan. 1905, Lt. Comdr. W. R. Shoemaker, USN, to Commanding Officer, U.S.S. Alabama, files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
    26 Letter, dated 29 Jan. 1905, Commanding Officer, U.S.S. Alabama, to Commander in Chief, North Atlantic Fleet, files, Bureau of Equipment. National Archives, Washington, D.C.
    27 Letter, dated April Chief of the Bureau of Equipment to National Electric Signaling Co., "Radioana," op. cit., files, National Electric Signaling Co.
    28 "Radioana," op. cit. (Clark, "Radio in War and Peace", unpublished manuscript, n.d.), p. 36.
    29 Ibid.
    30 S. S. Robison was born in and appointed a naval cadet from Pennsylvania. He graduated from the Naval Academy in 1888. Subsequently, he was designated a naval constructor. He headed the Radio Division from late 1904 through 1906. He was Chief of the Bureau of Engineering during the years 1925-'28 and was Superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy from 1928 to 1931. He retired in 1931 and died at Glendale, Calif., on 20 Nov. 1952.
    31 Letters, dated 22 and 23 June 1904, National Electric Signaling Co. to Chief of the Bureau of Equipment; Letters and contracts, dated 16, 22, and 29 June 1904, American De Forest Wireless Telegraph Co. and Chief of the Bureau of Equipment, files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
    32 Letter, dated 20 June 1904, National Electric Signaling Co. to Bureau of Equipment. "Radioana," files, National Electric Signaling Co.
    33 Ibid.
    34 Letter, dated 23 June 1904, H. W. Young, National Electric Signaling Co., to Hay Walker, Jr., President, National Electric Signaling Co., "Radioana," op. cit., files, National Electric Signaling Co.
    35 Contract No. Special 61, dated 29 June 1904. the American De Forest Wireless Telegraph Co. of Portland, Maine, and the US Navy, files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
    36 Ibid.
    37 Letter, dated 16 Dec. 1904, American De Forest Wireless Telegraph Co. to the Bureau of Equipment, files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
    38 Letter, dated 29 June 1904, Chief of the Bureau of Equipment to National Electric Signaling Co., "Radioana," op. cit., National Electric Signaling Co.
    39 Letter, dated 29 June 1904, H. W. Young to Hay Walker, Jr., "Radioana," op. cit., files, National Electric Signaling Co.
    40 Ibid.
    41 Ibid.
    42 New York Herald, 11 July 1904.
    43 Letter, dated 12 July 1904, National Electric Signaling Co. to Chief of Bureau of Equipment, "Radioana," op. cit., files, National Electric Signaling Co.
    44 Letter, dated 12 July 1904, R. A. Fessenden to Lt. Comdr. J. L. Jayne USN, "Radioana," op. cit., files, National Electric Signaling Co.
    45 Op. cit., Clark, letter of 14 July 1904 from Chief of Bureau of Equipment to National Electric Signaling Co., files, National Electric Signaling Co.
    46 Letter, dated 8 May 1905, Abraham White, President, American De Forest Wireless Telegraph Co., to Chief of the Bureau of Equipment, files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
    47 Letter, dated 12 May 1905, from Chief of Bureau of Equipment to Abraham White, President, American De Forest Wireless Telegraph Co., files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
    48 Lee De Forest, "Father of Radio" (Willcox & Follet Co., Chicago, 1950), pp. 178-181.
    49 Frank E. Butler, "How Wireless Came to Cuba", Radio Broadcast, November-April, 1924-25, p. 916.
    50 Butler, op. cit., p. 919.
    51 Ibid., p. 920.
    52 Ibid.
    53 De Forest, op. cit., pp. 193-194.
    54 Ibid.
    55 Letter, dated 5 Apr. 1906, R. A. Fessenden to Secretary of the Navy, "Radioana," National Electric Signaling Co.
    56 Letter, dated 19 Apr. 1906, Secretary of the Navy to R. A. Fessenden, "Radioana," National Electric Signaling Co.
    57 Letter, dated 6 June 1906, National Electric Signaling Co. to Secretary of the Navy, "Radioana," National Electric Signaling Co.
    58 Letter, dated 11 June, National Electric Signaling Co. to Secretary of the Navy, "Radioana," National Electric Signaling Co.
    59 Letter, dated 2 June 1906 (mailed 1 June), to Secretary of the Navy from National Electric Signaling Co., Clark, "Radioana," National Electric Signaling Co.
    60 Letter, dated 21 June 1906, Secretary of the Navy to National Electric Signaling Co., "Radioana," National Electric Signaling Co.
    61 Letter, dated Apr. 1907, unsigned rough copy, partly typewritten and partly in long hand, addressed to the President of the United States, "Radioana," files, National Electric Signaling Co. The author is of the opinion that this letter was never transmitted and this opinion is somewhat substantiated by the letter referenced in footnote 55.
    62 Letter, dated 11 March 1905, Stone Telegraph & Telephone Co. to Chief of Bureau of Equipment, files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
    63 Ibid.
    64 Report, dated Mar. 1905, Louis Duncan, "Stone Wireless Telegraph System," files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
    65 Letter, dated 24 Mar. 1905, Chief of the Bureau of Equipment to Stone Telegraph and Telephone Co., files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
    66 Letter, dated 13 Dec. 1905, Lt. Comdr. S. S. Robison, USN, to Chief of the Bureau of Equipment, files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
    67 Tender of the Stone Telegraph & Telephone Co. to Bureau of Equipment, n.d., files, Bureau of Equipment, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
    68 A. F. Collins, "The Massie Wireless Telegraph System," Scientific American, supplement No. 1533, 20 May 1905, pp. 24560-24561.
    69 Memorandum of Bids for Wireless Signaling Apparatus," opened at Navy Post Office, Washington, D.C., 29 Nov. 1905, at noon., "Radioana," files, National Electric Signaling Co.
    70 Frank Fayant, "The Wireless Telegraph Bubble," Success magazine, June 1907.
    71 Analysis of incomplete equipment records and contracts in the files of the Bureau of Ships, Department of the Navy.
    72 Ibid.
    73 Ibid.
    74 Annual Report of the Secretary of the Navy, 1906, p. 50.
TOC | Previous Section: Chapter VII | Next Section: Chapter IX