ON December 31 st, the telephone service of the ldquo;United Kingdom will become, like the telegraph service of that country, a government monopoly. The history of British telephones is reviewed in a recent report of Consul Rufus Fleming, stationed at Edinburgh. An act of 1869 gave to the Postmaster General the monopoly of operating telegraphs, and in 1880, as a result of the case of the Attorney General vs. the Edison Telephone Company, it was decided that telephones were included in the provisions of this act. However, the government, instead of buying up the patents and taking the telephone service into its own hands, granted licenses to the existing telephone companies. At first the companies were restricted in their operations to limited areas, but from 1884 onward the licenses were applicable over the entire kingdom. This led to the organization of large companies, and by 1892 practically all the business was in the hands of the National Telephone Company, Ltd. In 1896 the government took over the operation of all tile trunk lines connecting one town with another, paying the company upwards of dollar;2,233,723. The latter has since continued to operate the lines, but will transfer all its business to the postoffice at the end of the present year. There are approximately 644,000 telephones in the United Kingdom, but it is estimated that if the system were used in the same ratio to population as in the United .States, the number would be nearly 3,000,000. Judging from the history of the telegraph service, it is expected that the transfer of the telephones to the government will result in a great extension of the system. A Fiber Exposition in Java AUNIQUE exhibit of fiber plants and fiber-working machinery has been held at Soerabaya, Java, during the past summer, in connection with the Fiber Congress of the East Indies, which opened July 3rd. Dutch, German, and British machinery was represented, made by Krupp, Benisch, Berand Liebescher, Leesamp;Co., and Oldham. All the fiber plants of Java, and many from the Philippines, Siam, etc., including sisal, agil, pineapple fiber, banana fiber, coconut fiber, Java cotton, kapok, and others, were exhibited. One exhibit showed the natives of Java working kapok and cotton from the very first stage of preparing the fiber to the finishing of the woven cloth. Kapok is the silky fiber surrounding the seeds of the silk-cotton tree (Ceiba pentandra), one of the noblest trees of the tropics. It is extensively used in stuffing mattresses, and also in filling life-preservers, for which latter use it is especially vain able, as it will support a greater weight in water than any other substance used for this purpose. A mass of pressed kapok will support thirty-six or thirty-seven times its weight.
This article was originally published with the title "Telephones in Great Britain, A Fiber Exposition in Java" in Scientific American 105, 27, 607 (December 1911)