The recent announcement that wireless telegraph communication had been established on a commercial basis between Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, and Clifden, Ireland, has been followed by the usual storm of con troversy between the man who takes everything on faith and the man who will not accept a fact that he does not observe with his own eyes. The SCIEN TIFIC AMERICAN believes that the highest praise is due to Signor Marconi for his pioneer work and for the perseverance which has carried him to his present success, and this without depreciating the -work of others in the same field. However, we realize that many exaggerations have been printed which prob ably will do harm unless corrected. Several years ago it was announced that the Marconi Company was ready to deliver commercial messages across the At lantic, but a breakdown occurred and communication was suspended. In view of this failure, it is but natural for certain persons to be somewhat skeptical as to the actual commercial status of the present system. Some have even gone so far as to hint that no messages whatever were transmitted across the Atlantic, but that false reports were given out with a view to booming stocks. With such suspicions we have no sympathy. No opportunity has been afforded us of actually testing the transatlantic transmission of messages; but those who desire positive evidence will find ample proof in the reports of independent stations hot interested in the success of the Marconi Company. In the current SUPPLEMENT we publish a letter from Prof. Reginald A. Fessenden, who describes the work at Glace Bay as recorded by the messages received at his own station at Brant Rock, Mass. Wireless teleg raphy is not a secret means of communication, and the various selective systems, about which one hears so much, operate not to prevent outsiders from receiving one's message, but to prevent outsiders from inter fering with the receipt of the message. Thus, while Marconi could adjust his instruments to prevent other stations from seriously affecting the receipt of his messages from Clifden, he could not prevent those same stations from receiving both the Glace Bay and the Clifden messages. As no secret code was used, Prof. Fessenden was able to keep a complete record of the Marconigrams, although Brant Rock is over 600 miles from Glace Bay. On October 18, when the system was officially opened, 1,400 words were trans mitted across the Atlantic, after which it was neces sary to suspend operations due to atmospheric dis turbances. The actual rate at which the messages were sent was seven words per minute; but as a great many messages had to be repeated, the effective rate was reduced to three words per minute. The wave length used at Glace Bay differed from that used at Clifden and, according to Prof. Fessen den, was "broader than is advisable for cutting out interference and atmospheric disturbances. ... A cable can operate to within a half hour of the arrival of a lightning storm, and some of the well-known means for achieving this protection should be used for wireless stations. If it is not done, operation becomes impossible in the summer months, as with long-dis tance stations there is always some thunderstorm within the radius of operation." In the fall atmo spheric conditions are the best for the transmission of Hertzian waves; the real test will come during the summer months. Although the Marconi system may not yet have attained a sufficient degree of speed and reliability to meet the exacting demands of commer cial service, it has scored the greatest actual advance, so far, in this direction.
This article was originally published with the title "The Present Status of Transatlantic, Wireless Telegraphy"