Friday, December 28, 2012

Ancient DX Report 1902

            In our Ancient DX Report for the year 1902, we report the comment of a radio historian who stated that the Navy in each major country of the world was now involved in studying and  experimenting with wireless. We might also add that wireless was on the air experimentally in many different countries throughout the world during the year 1902: in Europe, North America, Africa, Asia & the South Pacific. 

            During this particular year under review, the Japanese Navy established two experimental wireless stations, one in Tokyo and the other in Yokasuka, as the first wireless stations in Asia.  The Marconi company established two wireless stations in Africa, one in the Congo and another in Angola, and these were the first wireless stations in that continent.

            Marconi himself was involved with further experimental transmissions from ships; on the “Philadelphia” in the Atlantic at a distance of 2099 miles from the Poldhu station, and on the “Koh-i-Noor” (KOH-ee-noor) for the benefit of the assembled governors from the various colonies in the British Empire.  The tests from Poldhu to the “Philadelphia” were radiated on 820 kHz mediumwave.

            Marconi was also involved with tests transmissions on board the Italian Navy vessel “Carlo Alberto” and these experiments took place in the Mediterranean, off the coast of European Russia, and in the Atlantic.  In fact at one stage, Marconi was granted the exclusive usage of the “Carlo Alberto” almost as though it was his own mobile experimental wireless station.

            Both France and Spain established land based wireless stations on an experimental basis during the year 1902.  The French stations were established on Ushant Island, just off the western edge of France, and the mainland station was at Brest, 50 miles distant.  The Spanish stations were located at Cabo de la Nao and Cabo Pelado, both on the Mediterranean coastline.

            Over in the United States, the Marconi company rebuilt the antenna system at their Wellfleet station, CC, that had been destroyed in a windstorm at the end of November in the previous year, 1901.  In August, the Marconi company also took out a lease on the Jacob’s property at Fire Island, just off the coast of Long island, for the purpose of establishing what became known as the Babylon Wireless Station.

            Also during the year 1902, Lee de Forest constructed a wireless station on the roof of the Cheese Borough Building in New York City, and a companion station on the Hotel Castleton on nearby Staten Island.  This Staten Island station is recognized as the word’s first wireless/radio station ever built on the premises of a hotel. De Forest also obtained land near the Montauk Lighthouse, right at the Atlantic end of Long Island, for the installation of a wireless station.

            In the meantime, the Canadian born Reginald Fessenden was also busy on the experimental wireless scene in the United States.  On April 19, he gave a public demonstration of his wireless equipment to several government officials, including army & navy personnel, on Roanoke Island, North Carolina.  Soon afterwards, he transferred the equipment to another location, this time to Old Point Comfort in Virginia.  Right at the end of the year, Fessenden was awarded a patent for the transmission of voice messages by wireless.

            During the summer, Archie Collins conducted voice transmissions between ship and shore.  The two small ships involved in this experimentation were the “John G. McCullough” and the “Ridgewood”, both owned by the extensive Erie Railroad System.

            Interestingly, there was also a series of voice transmissions over on the west coast of the United States.  Young Francis McCarty successfully transmitted experimental voice messages in the famous Golden Gate Park to his brother Ignatius on the other side of Stow Lake.

            During this same era, three young men in New Zealand conducted their own successful wireless experiments.  James Logan sent Morse Code signals across Wellington Harbour, at the bottom of the North Island; a Mr. W. P. Huggins sent Morse Code signals across a short distance at Timaru, in the middle of the eastern coast of the South Island; and Joe Passmore, at the age of 17, sent Morse wireless messages in Dunedin, at the bottom of the South Island.

            It was during the year 1902 that extensive building work was accomplished for a huge new Marconi station near Sydney in Nova Scotia, Canada.  This grand new station, located near the coast at Table Head, Glace Bay, was made up with several buildings, including the main transmitter building which was four times larger than the earlier sister station at Poldhu in England. 

            The four wooden aerial towers, made of pine wood, 210 feet high, stood at the corners of a square 200 feet on each side.  The transmission cables at the top of these towers were 3 inches thick, and they whipped around angrily when the power from the 75 kW alternator was applied.  The first day of transmission tests from this new station at Glace Bay in Canada was November 19, 1902.

            Around this era the king of Germany, His Imperial Majesty Kaiser Wilhelm 2, became very interested in the development of wireless, particularly for its usefulness to the German navy.       

            It is stated that a contingent of personnel from a German navy ship at berth in Sydney Harbor, Nova Scotia in Canada, made their way to the new Marconi wireless station at Table Head, Glace Bay.  It would appear that this event took place quite early in the year 1902.

            This group of 30 naval officers, under the leadership of the navy commander and accompanied by the German wireless inventor, Professor Adolf Slaby, were intent upon viewing the latest wireless developments as installed at this massive new wireless station.  The station manager, Richard Vyvyan VIV-ee-an), opposed their entry, and stated that they would be welcome, if they showed a letter of authority from Marconi or his company.  The group demanding entrance to inspect the station stated that His Imperial Majesty in Berlin would be much annoyed if his men were not permitted to view the station.

            Next day, a company of 150 sailors showed up, in a much larger attempt to over run the property.  In a intuitive bid to deter this “invasion”, as the radio historians call it, Vyvyan organized a defensive force of local laborers who successfully opposed the attempt.

            Next month?  Ancient DX Report for the year 1903.
(AWR Wavescan/NWS 199/A Peterson)
photo/Italian Navy vessel, Carlo Alberto/