3["Marvellous Marconi and his Wireless Wonders" (Editorial), The Register (Adelaide, SA), Saturday 11 March 1905, page 4]
MARVELLOUS MARCONI AND HIS WIRELESS WONDERS.
The way in which Mr. Marconi has kept his promises in the past justifies the assumption that he was not 'romancing' the other evening. He told
his audience at the Royal Institution that he is confident that before long he will be able to transmit messages to the antipodes more economically than is now done by means of cables stretched across the bed of the ocean! This seems too wonderful to be true, and yet it merely means an extension of a system which has not only stood every scientific test, but has firmly established its claims to recognition, for employment for commercial purposes and other everyday, requirements. Professor Dolbear, the first man to take out a 'wireless' patent at Washington, said recently:--"When the wireless waves can be directed like light waves, instead of being allowed to scatter as now, the efficiency of the wireless method will be enormously increased; but what is the use of trying to tell what a healthy baby will grow to be?"
Wireless telegraphy has long ceased to be a monopoly of the laboratory. Experiments are still proceeding, but the system has been demonstrated, and is daily taking a larger share in the work of a busy world. Ocean greyhounds, racing at top speed across the stormy Atlantic, are almost hourly in touch with the country they are rapidly leaving behind them, up to a point where they pick up the connecting waves sent out from the land ahead. That great highway has been mapped off into imaginary squares with such scientific accuracy that vessels carrying the installation can be located at almost any moment, and "rung up!" Steamers are reported, so that their arrivals at given points can be scheduled equally exactly with the arrival of an express train; while on board liners of the Cunard Company a daily bulletin of 'Marconigrams' is handed to passengers as they take their seats at the breakfast table. The pulsebeats of the world can be felt on the high seas any where between Poldhu and Cape Cod! Ships that pass in the night--and day--now speak each other to some purpose, for warnings may be given or news exchanged, even though the union of horizon with ocean shuts out the vessels from view. Icebergs and fogs are thus beginning to lose their terrors for navigators who have command of the wireless system. Experts promise to provide a 'localizer' which will indicate that the vessle is nearing land and the varying distance from the shore! Mr. Marconi and others foreshadowed these things a few years ago, and what seemed like a romance then has become an accomplished fact.
"Wireless" workers have not confined their scientific conquests to the ocean, for ether waves are radiating across islands and continents, carrying messages of joy and sorrow, helping merchants to conduct the business of the world, or facilitating diplomatic courtesies between nations, ihe World's Work for February states that there are several systems performing important naval, military, and commercial work. There is Marconi communication from London to Italy, to Gibraltar, and even to Russia--overland communication for 1,500 miles. It is now maintained that "wireless" is as adaptable to mountains and valleys as to the sea.
In England there are now 24 Marconi stations operating on islands. There are four on the Isle of Wight, one in Belgium, one in Holland, one in Germany, two in Italy, and two in Montenegro; and even the Congo Free State possesses two. The most powerful station of all is built in Monte Mario, in Italy, to connect with a similar station in Argentina, 6,000 mite away, where 4,000,000 Italians live. The intention of the builders of the stations is to charge six cents a word for messages which now cost $1.50 by cable. the De Forest company have three vast circuits in prospect; one system is to send messages via the Great Lakes to Montana and Seattle, thence to Alaska, Siberia, and the Orient. There are to be stations in San Francisco and Honolulu, Guam, Manila, and Hongkong. This will make a double line of wireless communication across the Pacific. The second system is to be a branch to the middle west, to El Paso, Santa Fe, Los Angeles, and San Francisco; the third will run down the eastern seaboard to Panama, then across and up the Mexican coast to San Francisco. Connecting with this system will be the insular branch, bringing together Guantanamo, Key West, Pensacola, and Porto Rico.
The question of introducing the wireless telegraphic system to South Australia was revived by the Marine Board last week. There has ail ways been great difficulty in maintaining communication with some of our coastal stations, notably the Althorpes, where the wear and tear on the cables have caused frequent interruptions and a cost for maintenance which became prohibitive. Some years ago the Marine authorities approached the Telegraph Department with a view to securing wireless installation for the Althorpe Lighthouse, and possibly the Neptunes, both of which could thus be rendered serviceable as signalling stations. While isolated as at present they are useless excepting as a warning to shipmasters to give them a wide berth. It has been hinted that there has been a suspicion of scepticism born of jealousy on the part of the Federal Telegraphic Department towards the "wireless" system--a fear that the days of the ocean cable and overhead wires on land are numbered, and an idea that the new invention ought to be as rigidly excluded from this "exclusive" continent as are sunburnt or otherwise tinted immigrants. This, however, surely cannot be justified. Allowing for the hard death of prejudice, significant facts shown by experience are that the telephone has not destroyed the telegraph, neither have railways stopped the breeding of horses. In reality, even the English railway companies now employ more horses for haulage purposes than were ever on the roads of England in pre-railway days! Business makes business, and increased facilities always lead to an expansion of trade. It is estimated that the wireless system can be established and operated at from one to five per cent. of the cost of telegraphs and cables. The annual outlay on cables is stated in America at 100 dollars per mile, land wires 30 dollars, and wireless five dollars. "In three years," says Professor Fessenden, "the cost of a wire line will amount to more than the total cost of installing a wireless system. The speed of wireless--30 to 50 words a minute--equals the speed maintained by wires, and exceeds that of cables."
Clearly the wireless method is no longer to be regarded as a laboratory toy, but as an everyday necessity, with possibilities practically limitiless. It could be rendered of immense value in Aus tralia--a land of great distances; and isolated outposts of civilization like the Althorpe Island, the Neptunes, and Kangaroo Island, with its increasing prosperity and growing importance, are naturally adapted to the practical application of the wireless method of communication with the mainland. The local Marine authorities must be persistent, or else the federalized telegraphic departments may pigeonhole the revived request for wireless installations along the coast; and this wonderful modern mode of communication will not be utilized on our shores until after it shall have established traditions with age.