Monday, September 04, 2017
Ancient DX Report 1912
The radio scene throughout the world during the year 1912 could be described best in just one word, proliferation. It could be estimated that the total number of wireless stations in existence throughout the world at that time - communication, shipboard, land based, amateur, licensed, unlicensed, experimental - would stand at around 5,000.
During the year 1912, the Marconi company in England could count 30 countries in which their equipment had been installed; and in total, there were wireless communication stations in 85 countries around the globe.
In the continental United States, according to a 1912 list of wireless stations, there were 156 wireless communication stations large and small across the entire land mass. The United States navy operated 46 wireless stations that were installed at strategic locations around the world, as well as 353 ships that were wireless equipped.
In addition to the rapid proliferation of wireless around the world in the year 1912, there was also the terrible shipping tragedy, the sinking of the opulent White Star Liner the RMS Titanic, over the midnight hours of Sunday & Monday April 14 & 15 (1912). The majestic ship Titanic was on its maiden voyage across the Atlantic from Southampton in England to New York in the United States. This grand passenger liner struck an iceberg that dented and buckled the underwater side plates, thus allowing a fatal inflow of water that ultimately doomed this mighty vessel.
As is so well known, the usage of wireless on land and at sea was directly responsible for the saving of more than 700 lives on that tragic occasion. It was the Cunard Liner Carpathia that rushed to the rescue as a result of Morse Code wireless communications with the Titanic.
Aboard the Titanic was a new Marconi wireless system, a 5 kW rotary spark transmitter that transmitted Morse Code signals on 500 kHz, with a center fed T type antenna. The organizationally allocated callsign for the new Titanic was a Marconi identification, MGY.
If there had been no wireless fixture aboard the Titanic, we could presume that the ship would have sunk without anyone anywhere else being aware of the tragedy, until perhaps next day another ship would unexpectedly steam through the field of debris. It would have been then too late to rescue any survivors drifting in the below freezing water and air temperatures of the cold Atlantic.
As a result of the Titanic tragedy, the governments in many countries around the world enacted new safety laws, requirements and regulations, regarding the installation and operation of wireless equipment aboard ships at sea. Wireless was required on an increasing number of ships, and additional wireless operators were required for a complete 24 hour day of service.
There were so many wireless developments during the year 1912, that all we can do in our program today is to choose a few of the most interesting and most significant. Some of the other wireless developments of that year can be observed in books and magazines found in libraries large and small in many countries around our world.
In the United States, two wireless experimenters/inventors discovered the principle of feedback regeneration independently during this same year. These wireless pioneers were Edwin Armstrong and Lee de Forest, and the successful procedure is to feed the partially amplified signal in the radio receiver back into the same amplification circuit.
The famous United States navy station NAA at Arlington in Virginia was activated during the year 1912, though not yet at full power. As soon as the three tower antenna system was completed, it was anticipated that the rotary spark equipment at the full power of 100 kW would be applied.
At that stage, Frank Conrad built a wireless receiver so that he could hear the time signals from the new navy station NAA. At the time, the family was living in Swissvale, near Pittsburgh, though they moved to Wilkinsburg shortly afterwards.
Another famous powerful station in the United States was the German constructed wireless communication station located at Sayville on Long Island New York. Station WSL was described as one of the most powerful in the world at 100 kW, though through a special Telefunken design, there was an increase in radio frequency energy radiated from the antenna system.
During the year, Irving Vermilya received the first amateur experimental license issued in the United States and the callsign for his wireless station was changed from the do-it-yourself callsign SNY to the regularized 1ZE.
Station 9YV was an experimental station operated by Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, and it became the first radio station in the U.S. to offer a regularly-scheduled daily broadcast (in Morse Code) of the weather forecast.
During that same year (1912), the Federal Telegraph Wireless built a transmitting station at Point San Bruno, near South San Francisco in California. This new station had the tallest antenna towers in the world at a height of 440 feet, with more than 6½ miles of wire strung between the two towers. The location for this new San Bruno Point wireless station covered 25 acres.
Also on the California coast, Charles Herrold installed a set of two transmitters and receivers in the Fairmont Hotel and another set of two transmitters and receivers in San Jose for the purpose of continuous two way transmission.
Over in England, Marconi constructed a brand new wireless factory; and the documents for the International Telegraphic Conference in London were signed on July 5. This important conference promulgated regulations for the issuing of callsigns for all wireless stations.
A new Marconi station was opened at Aranjuez-Madrid on February 1, and King Alfonso sent a message to London for forwarding to the New York times.
The first major maritime wireless station in New Zealand was installed in a small building on the roof of the Central Post office in Auckland and it was taken into service on October 24, 1912 under the callsign NZK. The first two letters in this three letter callsign, NZK, stood rather obviously for the initial letters in the two word title of their country, New Zealand; and the K identified one of the letters in the city name, Auckland.
One thousand miles to the west, we find that Australia also was in the process of installing a whole alphabetic list of coastal wireless stations, six of which were inaugurated during that same year 1912. The first permanent AWA coastal station was installed at the Domain in Melbourne and it was taken into service with 2½ kW on 500 kHz, on February 8 (1912).
The projected callsign for this station was AAM, with the AA reminiscent of a temporary maritime station in Sydney with the callsign AAA; the M in the AAM callsign obviously indicated Melbourne. When the station was inaugurated, the actual callsign was POM, indicating Post Office Melbourne, though soon afterwards this call was amended to the more familiar VIM.
Macquarie Island is located half way between Australia and Antarctica. The new 1½ kW wireless station MQI made its first two way contact with AAU aboard the SS Ulimaroa on February 13, 1912. The SS Ulimaroa belonged to the Huddart Packard Line and it plied across the Tasman between Australia and New Zealand. The name Ulimaroa is a New Zealand Maori name. and it was mistakenly thought back then that this was the Maori name for Australia.
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