Tuesday, December 05, 2006

A Piece of History

Fessenden researched and developed the continuous wave (CW) method of wireless transmission as a replacement for spark. He had provided specifications and subsequently modified a device that was built to his design by General Electric. It would later become known as the Alexanderson alternator in honor of the GE engineer who made numerous improvements to it. Fessenden's 1906 alternator reportedly operated at a frequency of 42 KHz with a power of 1 kilowatt, although other writers have noted 75KHz and a half kilowatt. His 1906 broadcast was on the sixth anniversary plus one day of his first successful transmission of human speech at a distance of one mile from Cobb Island on the Potomac River (December 23, 1900). He invented a chemical detector as a replacement for the Branly Coherer which could only receive code.

The First Broadcast - Christmas Eve 1906

For their entire careers, the "Sparks", the ship wireless operators, had only heard Morse code "dit - dahs" coming through their headphones. Suddenly at 9 PM Eastern Time on Christmas Eve, they heard something that made some think they were dreaming, a human voice coming from those headphones. Then they heard singing. There was a violin solo. Then a man made a speech. Some called their captain and ship's officers to come and listen.

The genius responsible was Reginald Fessenden. He had succeeded in transmitting voice and music over the air. Fessenden himself played a violin solo of "O Holy Night" accompanying himself as he sang the last verse (below). He also read the Biblical account of the birth of Christ from Luke chapter 2 over the air. The text of the angels' song "Glory to God in the Highest - and on Earth - Peace to Men of Goodwill " was heard as if by miracle.

At the conclusion, Fessenden wished all a Merry Christmas and invited the Sparks to write him at Brant Rock, Massachusetts with reception reports. Reports were received from ships all along the Atlantic northeast coast and from shore stations as far south as Norfolk, Virginia. A repeat broadcast on New Year's Eve was heard as far south as the West Indies.

5 opinionated prattle:

Stan said...

Wow, you must have been in a self motivating educational mood to research this worthy information, I did not know! However, it is interesting because I have been doing some research on the electrronic era and will be publishing my results inthe near future, which I think you will find most interesting and perhaps broaden your opportunity and education on fishing. I kind of liked the old dit-dit-dot-dit-dit-dit-dot mode of communication. I wish they would make it the standard for cell phone users, then we would see less usage of that little annoyance.

mom said...

Hey computer expert - you need to fix your sight, so it's not covering up your left side of your blog. But I do like not having to scroll down to read.
Love ya in spite of it all.

JD Plumma said...

My IE sees green at the title and a few words are mixed up. I forget to see it from MS point of view - to verify function. I noticed that it snows on IE ! Not Firefox...

Stan said...

Huh? Your mother and I just wanted to see your site without having to scroll down a half mile, I have had to replace the wheel on my rat (or is it mouse) three times from rolling it so much.

FishTaxi said...

Thats good to know since I thought it was marconi that invented radio. Thats what they taught me in college!

I can see your snow in IE and no more scrolling down to see your posts. I thought you liked it that way:)

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