35a["Wireless on the Otranto", The Brisbane Courier (Qld.), Tuesday 26 July 1910, page 4]




If the wonder of wireless telegraphy remains with the skilled experimenter the fascination which signalling across space holds for the world at large need not be a matter of surprise. The absence of visible connection between the sending and receiving instruments strikes the imagination at once. Nothing could be more marvellous to all appearance--, that the response of mechanism on board a ship in mid-ocean to the etheric vibrations set up hundreds of miles away. The progress of wireless telegraphy has been wonderful. Every mail steamer will, in the near future, have the apraratus installed. The Orient Company has made a start with the Otranto, which arrived at Pinkenba from London yesterday, and it is stated that all the vessels of this fleet will be similarly fitted. On the upper deck of the Otranto the Marconi system has been installed in a cabin specially set apart for the operator. Mr. E. T. Fisk, who yesterday stated that the apparatus had been put to great use during the voyage. The installation on the Otranto kept 1106 passengers supplied daily with the chief news of the world; 70 vessels were communicated with, and messages were received from 26 land stations. During the voyage the greatest transmitting distance was 830 miles. All through the Mediterranean Sea the passengers were suppied with news from the Poldhu wireless station, in Cornwall, a distance of 1500 miles. Last Friday night, while the Otranto was lying at Circular Quay, Sydney, she was in communication with the P. & O. liner ?Mar....n, then 150 miles west of Adelaide, or 812 miles over the land from Sydney. The installation on the Otranto is similar to that on the Cunard liner Lusitania. The Otranto also carries an emergency set of Marconi apparatus, which is worked from a storage battery, and is always available for use, whether or not a current is supplied by the ship. The weather conditions make absolutely no difference in the working of the emergency apparatus. In 1905 Mr. Fisk passed through the Marconi Company's training school, and subsequently, he operated marine installations on vessels of the Cunard, Allen, and other large liners. His next engagement was with a sealing expedition, among the Arctic ice-floes, when, he said, the commercial value of wireless telegraphy was fully demonstrated. Two out of fifteen ships which left St. John's, Newfoundland, were fitted with wireless--the ?Fa..le and the Florizel. He had charge of the installation on the latter. The two ships with wireless found a big patch of seals and filled up, while the other ships, which were not fitted with the wireless equipment, were not nearly so successful. The captains of the Florizel and E'?le attributed their success to being able lo compare notes in regard to the indications of the presence of seals, and so locate grounds. The two ships also kept in communication with headquarters, and sent reports as to what they were doing. On the same trip the wireless installation prevented loss of life, for the Florizel was able to locate the crew of another sealer which had been crushed in the ice, and 180 men were rescued.

On the present voyage of the Otranto, the steamer Trieste was reported to be eight days overdue at Bombay, and H.M.S. Hyacinth was despatched to search for her. After leaving Colombo, the Otranto received a wireless message that the Trieste had arrived safely. Mr. Fisk passed on this message to the Hyacinth, and thus saved her many days of fruitless search. When on the Australian coast the Otranto was in communication with P. & O. and White Star liners, and two hours after leaving got into communication with H.M.S. Powerful, in Sydney Harbour. The Marconi International Marine Communication Company, Limited has now fitted about 400 vessels with its system, and has wireless stations working day and night between London, New York and Montreal.

35b["Wireless Telegraphy in Australia", The West Australian, Monday 7 August 1911, page 4]


In the old world wireless telegraphy as a commercial undertaking has for a comparatively lengthy period been an accomplished fact. Here, in Australia, though we have become accustomed to announcements that war boats, ships of the coastal marine and the European mail boats have flashed a knowledge of their well-being from waters no longer lonely to their fellows moored in harbour, from a business aspect wireless was non-existent. There is considerable room for improvement in the facilities for the receipt and transmission of ethergraphs in the Commonwealth, but it is a distinct encouragement to a belief that Australia will not for long lag behind the rest of the civilised world in this respect to be able to record that a start has been made to furnish a press service. Primarily the country is interested in allying the new system of telegraphy to our means of defence. The sole right to establish and use stations for receiving and transmitting wireless messages within Australia was retained to the Postmaster-General under the provisions of the Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1905, but the Minister is empowered to grant licences for the establishment and use of stations under certain conditions and on payment of prescribed fees. A company, the Australasian Wireless, Ltd., has been formed and in this morning's "wireless" are seen the first results of its efforts, in the transmission of messages in Western Australia, though as contractors for the erection for the Federal Government of high-power stations at Sydney and Fremantle the Company's activity has been earlier manifested. Complaint has not been wanting that, considering the supreme importance of this means of communication which has, since Marconi in 1896 first startled the world with its possibilities, by a successive series of dramatic occurrences im pressed itself upon the public imagination, sufficient energy has not been shown in Australia to facilitate the use of the invention - or series of inventions which unite in "wireless." A deputation representing the Chamber of Commerce, the Marine Underwriters' Association, and Steamship Companies, waited upon Mr. Thomas, Postmaster-General, in Melbourne a month ago to urge that stations should be more rapidly installed round the coast of Australia.

It was pointed out to the Minister that while many of the coastal boats and mail steamers were furnished with apparatus the possibility of communication from sea to shore was practically limited to the chance of a vessel also equipped being in port. The deputation urged that small stations suitable for commercial purposes should, without delay, be established at convenient spots along the coast. Mr. Thomas was sympathetic in his reply, but alleged many difficulties that the department had to face. Before sites were selected the naval and military departments had to be consulted, and quite recently a communication from the British Government with reference to wireless systems was the cause of further delay. It may be taken that the Postmaster-General's allusion to the Home Government's message bore upon the litigation in which the Marconi Co. has been engaged against the proprietors of other systems for alleged infringement of patent rights. By a judgment given last month the claims of the Marconi Co. have been established, and, in the opinion of Mr. Hughes, the Attorney General, the Parker judgment, as it is known, affected all commercial wireless systens in such a manner that the Marconi Company would have the sole use of the master patent for the four years that still remain to it of its patent rights. The Commonwealth Government has already fallen foul of the reprsentatives of Australasian Wireless, Ltd., who have expressed deep resentment because the tenders of the latter for the construction of stations at Port Moresby and Thursday Island were not accepted. It can easily be understood that, following the general desire of preference to things Australian, the people would regard favourably an extension of a certain amount of preference to the company, which, to quote from a letter addressed by the chairmain of directors, Mr. H. B. Denison, to the Acting Prime Minister, is "backed by Australian capital"; still the Government cannot afford to mix itself up in embroglios between the owners of various systems. The Australian company which operates the "Telefunken" system claims that the Parker judgment in no way interferes with it; but the Federal Attorney-General, as stated, holds a contrary view. It is urgent, however, that the Government should on the lines suggested by the deputation that waited on Mr. Thomas hasten the provision of sites for wireless stations that Australia may not be behind the rest of the world in the matter.

At such a rate are installations upon ships and on shore being increased that statistics can scarcely keep pace with them. The Marconi International Marine, a subsidiary company to Marconi's Wireless Telegraph Co., alone had 250 stations on ships at the end of last year compared yith 143 at the end of 1909. By June of this year when the subsidiary company had entered the dividend paying stage with a distribution of 10,203 the number had increased to 303 vessels. The Marconi Company by the service established between Clifden. Ireland, and Glace Bay, Canada, was transmitting across the Atlantic at the end of 1910 an average of nearly 6,000 words a day a a cost equalling only half that charged by the cable companies. So numerous have been the instances where wireless telegraphy on board ship has proved of wonderful advantage that it is generally felt that legislative action is necessary to compel all sea-going vessels to be fitted with the apparatus. The foundering of the Republic and the heroic conduct of Dunn the operator speeding his electric appeal across the waste will not readily be forgotten. The sordid drama of Crippen became the subject by the aid of wireless of an acute interest that eagerly followed the daily doings of the unconscious criminal and his paramour in their trip across the Atlantic.

By the law of the United States all vessels carrying not less than fifty persons, passengers and crew, and making a voyage of 200 miles or more mast possess a wireless installation. Portable wireless apparatus is among the latest developments, and communication over a distance of 200 miles has been maintained between an electric motor car, carrying a 30ft. portable steel mast and the necessary guys and wires, and a permanent station. The doubt that exists in regard to the legality of systems other than the Marconi is the cause of hesitation on the part of the Commonwealth Government against committing itself to any particular one, and necessarily leads to delay. Mr. Hughes has expressed the hope that certain steps the Government is taking will abrogate the difficulty. As the Attorney-General remarked: "Wireless telegraphy is almost as much a necessity in these days as air and light, and before long Australia will have to get it in any circumstances." Meanwhile despite the war of systems a start has been made in Australia to bend to our use this latest handmaid of science that is well worthy of chronicling.

35c["Wireless on the s.s. Koombana", The Hedland Advocate (Port Hedland, WA), Saturday 12 August 1911]

Wireless on the s.s. Koombana

The enterprising A.S.S. Co. has the Nor'-West mail boat equipped with Marconi wireless apparatus. All along the coast great interest has been manifested in the equipment, the details of which were courteously explained by the operator, Mr J. L. Mulholland. In order to obtain an efficient service the Marconi Wireless Co. insists on the working of both ship and stations by officers trained to obey the same rules and regulations. Hence the apparatus on the Koombana is the property of the Marconi Co. and is worked by that Co.'s own operator. It is the usual ship's set, as installed on the English mail boats. There is also an emergency set aboard, which is worked independently of the ship's electric supply.

On Wednesday of last week, while off Hedland (on the up-trip) the Koombana was in communication with the Karoola, which vessel was steaming past Cape Leeuwin. The Karoola recently communicated with Cocos Island over a distance of 2,250 miles.

During the trip from Fremantle the Koombana communicated for several days in succession with the Ascanius, Osterley, China, Seuvic, and the Karoola.

There are now nearly 600 merchant ships fitted with the Marconi wireless system.