Massie Company Literature Cover 8
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Walter W Massie
Courtesy of Alan Sondheim
Courtesy of New England Wireless and Steam Museum
Walter Wentworth Massie began experimenting with radio before the turn of the century during the decades that produced a burst of creativity in engineering for transportation and communication, a period when the development of radio was dominated by individuals who were both technological innovators and also entrepreneurs.
Massie was born December 15th, 1874 (The same year as Marconi) in Providence, RI, the son of a banker and Councilman, John G Massie and Harriet E Massie. 18 According for the 1880 Census, Massie was the fourth of SIX children. 44 Another sister, Edith was born in 1882.
His experiments began in 1895. The existence of wireless effects had been known since 1877 when Thomas Edison discovered "etheric force." Edison's wireless work was widely reported, as was the work of other pioneers such as Dolbear, Lodge, Hertz, Tesla, Popoff, and after 1896 Marconi.
Massie attended Mowry and Goffs School in Providence 6 and studied engineering at Brown University and Tufts University. Before Tufts or as part of Tufts, in the beginning, we find Massie listed in the 1892 Tufts Catalogue as a student in the Bromfield-Pearson High School 45. The high school is described as meeting the wants of young men whose preparation for an Engineering course may be partially deficient in one or more of the required branches but whos practice and experience in the applies part of the Engineering may qualify them to pursue college work while making up the deiciencies. 46 So it seems that they saw in Massie the practical engineer but not the theoretical backing. 18
He is listed as a special student at Brown in 1895-1896 36, at that time Massie lived at t Brighton Street in Providence and is listed as a student and border. 47
He was married to Ethel E Farrington on October 18th 1899. They had two children, Wentworth and Gardner. 18
Just before this point in his life Massie is living with his parents on 7 Brighton St in Providence. 37
In 1896, Massie joined the Providence City Engineer's office. At his house on Public Street, he continued to carry out experiments with wireless communication. His interest and competence in wireless were locally known, and he often gave lectures and demonstrations. It was a lecture in 1903 that led to Massie's move into radio as an entrepreneur. In March, Massie held a public demonstration of radio communication-he received messages in a lecture hall from a wireless set installed in an automobile outside the hall. His partners in the demonstration were employees of Lee deForest of New York. On the basis of the demonstration, de Forest was engaged by the management of the Providence Journal to provide radio communication between mainland Rhode Island and Block Island, so that a summer edition of their newspaper could be printed with up-to-the-minute news and the latest shipping observations. DeForest set up stations at Point Judith in an existing house and on Block Island near South East Lighthouse, and in the summer of 1903 the Providence Journal published 49 issues of the Block Island Wireless, a small paper whose news was supplied via deForest's connection across Rhode Island Sound.
After a single season, however, the Journal was unhappy with deForest and abandoned the Block Island Wireless. Seeking to recover some of its investment, the Journal offered the management of the two stations to Massie. In the fall of 1903, Massie resigned from the City Engineer's office and began his career as a full-time "wireless man." Operating the Massie Wireless Company as a sole proprietor, he was now matched against other competing groups of stations, known as "systems," each headed by an entrepreneur who was often, like Massie, also an inventor and innovator, adapting and altering the stock of equipment necessary to send and receive messages. During the years between 1904 and 1912, Massie was a significant competitor. At that time Massie lived at 24 Mawney Street 48 and 657 Public Street where he was listed as a Civil Engineer at the City Hall49
On August 9, 1904, the firm of Walter W Massie, Engineers, installed the Wireless Telegraph Station and Towers, making it possible for te first transmission of messages from South Light, Block Island, to Point Judith ("PJ") on the mainland. The fog signal was activated by a 4-hp engine and the sound was made not by the wind but by steam going through a 17-foor long trumpet. (From the Henry A L Brown Collection.) 9
Massie intended the two Journal stations to be the first of a network of stations that would provide ship-to-shore communications for coastal vessels. By early 1904, he had signed up the Fall River Steamship Line as his first client-he equipped their steamship Plymouth with wireless in March 1904. His installation on the Plymouth was located in a specially insulated stateroom, the sending and receiving apparatus arranged along a double shelf on two sides of the room, and including a recently patented oscillaphone detector. Establishing a pattern which he followed for the life of his company, Massie leased rather than sold the ship-board installations and hired the wireless operators who operated the radios.6
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Providence Journal, March 23, 1904
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Providence Journal, April 3, 1904
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Providence Journal, May 18, 1904
In 1904 the Marine Transmission Company was formed in New Jerssy. They held exclusive rights to operate the Massie system in the United States.
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Telegraph and Telephone Age, January 1 1911
On April 11th, 1905, the "Massie Wireless Telegraph Company" was formed by the Secretary of State of Rhode Island, Charles P Bennett:
I, Charles O Bennerr, Secretary of state, hereby certify that Walter W Massie, Edward W Everson, and John G Massie have filed in the office of the secretary of state, according to law, their agreemenr to from a corporation under the name of Massie Wireless Telegraph Company, for the purpose of engaging in the business of wireless telegraph and telephony, manufacturing and installing, and maintaining wireless telegraph and telephony instruments and all other articles necessary for the conduct of such businees, to build, construct, maintain, license, use, and work for hire, public and private telegraph, telephone, and other electric, non-electric, or magnetic instrumnets and apparatus for the transmission of articulate speech, mesages, sounds, tones, or signals; to buy, sell, own, and deal in any real or personal property necessary or convenient for the prosecution of said business, and generally to do all things incident to said businees and to the proper management thereof, and with the capital stock of one hundred thousand dollars, and have also filed the certificate of the general treasurer that they paid into the general treasury of the state the fee required by law. 15
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Telegraph and Telephone Age, January 1 1911
Massie was also into photography as seen in a 1905 house directory listing members of the Providence Camera Club 50.
In 1906 there were Forty commercial wireless stations operating on the West Coast; 81
In 1906 51, 1908 52, 1909 53, 1910 54, 1911 55, and 1912 56 we find the Massie Wireless Telegraph Company at 4 Market Sq. room 10.
Also in 1906 one of San Francisco's first station is established for Massie by Arthur A. Isbell with the call sign "IAA" taken from Isbell's initials. This station was right near the Cliff House. 81
June, 1907: The steamship SS President of the Pacific S.S. Company is the first ocean liner to be fitted with wireless in the Pacific 82, using a 3KW Massie system on 400 meters, callsign V-2. Again we find Arthur A. Isbell as the operator. 81
In 1908 Massie, under the company, The Marine Tranmission company filed a claim for burnt equipment at the Point Judith Station. They ended up having to take the insurance company to court to get paid what they thought they were owed. They lost!
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Providence Journal May 10, 1908
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Providence Journal October 25, 1908
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The Boston Globe January 6, 1908
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The Boston Globe March 20, 1908
Tatoosh Island, WA (callsign SV)
Cape Blanco, OR (TA)
Table Bluff, CA (TD)
Point Arguello, CA (TK)
Point Loma, CA (TM)
using Massie, Telefunken, Shoemaker and DeForest gear. Some of these stations are reported to have had two "humps" in their wavelengths, indication simultaneous although probably not intentional operation on two frequencies. 82
In 1910 we find Massie living at 24 Mawney Street in Providence with his wife Ethel and sons Wintrop, 4 and Gardner, 3 and he is listed as a resident manager in the telegraph industry. 43
Providence Journal, April 19, 1911
Massie Station and Others Involved in the Titanic Rescue
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Providence Journal, April 18, 1912
At the end of 1911 communication with Block Island was lost when the cable 86 between the island and the mainland was cut. The schooner Edward E Briry fouled the cable with it's anchor on December 29th, 1911. Massie took a team out to the island to set up a station to communicate with Massie's Point Judith station, PJ. The team left on a wednesday and expected to be up and running by Thursday, the 19th or Friday morning, the 20th.
The wireless link actually did not begin until January 17th due to storms holding up installation of the system and material delays.
In 1913 Massie is living in Cranston at 33 Windsor Road and listed as an inventor.57
!913 bring the reorganization of the Massie Wireless Telegraph Company and company emerges as the National Electric Signal Company. under it's President H(S) M Kintner of Pittsburg, John V L Hogan, General Manager and Chief Engineer, George E Cole, personnel, manager of operators, installation and maintenance, offices pier 14, North River.
Sparks Journal KFS Edition
He is found listed in the 1913 85, 1914 83 and 1915 84 Rhode Island State Auditor Report for a variety of payments for services rendered. These include labor and supplies setting triangulation stations, computations and calculations, stenographic work and supplies, sevices and expenses as a civil engineer, and use of boat. Massie is listed as a Consultant with an office in the Industrial Trust Building in Providence in 1914. 58
By 1915 Massie must be well off as he and his family are listed as having a Servant and a border while still living at 33 Windsor Road in Cranston. 59 In 1916 Massie has moved his consulting business to 77 Washington St, room 314. 60
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January 8, 1916
In 1917, Massie being an avid yachtsman, is listed as a member of the Rhode Island Yacht Club. 61 In 1918 Massie again moved his consulting firm from room 314 to room 304 at 77 Washington St 62
In 1920 Massie and his family are still living on Windsor Road in Cranston but has moved to 31 63. His business listing has also changed to being a civil engineer in room 301 at the State House 64.
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Daily News February 21, 1920
1921 shows a title change again to Constructing Engineer 65.
1922 has Massie listed in both the Cranston directory as a Civil Engineer in the town hall 66 and the Providence Directory as a Civil Engineer in the State House 67. This is seen again in 1924 68 69 and he is living at 33 Windsor Road 70.
Also in 1924, Massie builds a new home he designs himself at 16 Windsor Rd in Cranston. 28.
In 1925 71 72, 1928 73 74, 1930 75 76, 1931 77, and 1933 78 79 Massie is listed as both a Civil Engineer and a Consulting Engineer.
The Late 20's and early 30s
At this time, Massie's involvement in radio is reduced to sales, repair and consulting. Here are a series of ads in the Providence Journal atesting to this:
In 1935 Massie and his wife are living with his son Wentworth and wife Linda in Wrentham MA. Wentworth is listed as a farmer. This was the farm where the equipment for staion "PJ" was found and donated to the Wireless and Steam Museum. 80
The Massie Wireless Telegraph System was the result of years of study and experiment by Mr. Massie, and had been in practical operation for over six years, accomplishing much in New England and along the Atlantic Coast. Two of the Massie land stations was located at Point Judith and Block Island, Rhode Island. The Massie Wireless Telegraph Station at Point Judith, with call letters: "PJ" is on the National Register of Historic Places. Formerly on the exposed beach at Point Judith, it had survived several hurricanes. When the state wanted to tear it down, the New England Wireless and Steam Museum mounted a campaign to save it. In 1993, with the help of many enthusiastic volunteers, the entire station was moved to its present site on the museum grounds in East Greenwich, RI. It is the oldest surviving wireless station in the world, and it is complete with its original straight gap, 400 watt battery (Edison LaLande glass jar batteries) operated and its Massie Resonaphone receiver. Even the operating table is original. When the Massie Wireless Telegraph Company closed down in 1910, all of the original equipment had luckily been saved in the loft of a barn in Wrentham, MA by the Massie family. The descendants of Walter Massie donated this priceless equipment to the museum and it has now been reinstalled to complete the exhibit.
On May 4, 1910, somewhere in the thick fog off Cape Cod, the steamship Santurce bound for New York from Boston Light, collided with the steamship Ligonier. Through the roaring of the immediate panic on board both steamships, the wireless operator sat calmly tapping out his CQD calls. Walter W Massie, at his home in Providence, five minutes later, was awakened by a call from the station at Point Judith, telling him the story of the collision, giving him the names of the two vessels and appealing urgently for help. Immediately, Massie communicated with the wrecking tug, Tasco, and President Scott of the Scott Wrecking Company of New London, and the work of rescue began at once. This was merely one of the hundreds of instances where wireless served as a life saver on boundary and inland waters. 2
Interestingly enough, Mr Massie was listed as the Engineer for the Commission of Shell Fisheries for the State of Rhode Island from 1913 to 1918. 16
Also in the 1913-1914 Brown University Alumni Monthly there is a notation that Massie was a consulting engineer at 707 Industrial Trust Building in Providence. 32
Other accomplishments of Mr Massie include, founded and headed the Bureau of Marine Intelligence and held a position on the board of the Peoples Savings Bank of Rhode Island. 18
Mr Massie's military service was Lieutenant USNRF entering service on May 25th, 1917 as a radio officer, 2nd Naval District where he had charge of the Radio School for operators having an average of 375 men under his command. 18
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Tuesday 17, 1918
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Wireless Age May 1919
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Navy and Marine
Corps Officer Registers
Massie was a Mason Odd Fellow, a memeber of the American Legion, member of the Radio Instructional Engineers and the Providence Engineering Society. 18
In 1912 Massie sold the assets of his Massie Wireless Telegraph Company to Marconi after turning down a position with the company. 87
In 1913, Massie became a noted yachtsman; he sailed a Rhode Island-built cruiser named Maurence, a wood boat built by the Lemos Brother from Riverside, RI, running a 4cyl gas engine 23 He also served as commodore of the Rhode Island Yacht Club, as well as the admiral of all Narragansett Bay yacht clubs in 1913. D. 22
Providence Sunday Journal
May 7 1911
1914 Postcard, Rhode Island Yacht Club with wirless Antenna
Most likely set up by Massie
The Boston Globe July 20, 1913
In 1917 was appointed Junior Lieutentant in the naval reserves and assigned to installing wireless equipment on patrol boats and naval auxiliary vessels at Newport. 42
In 1919, Mr Massie accepted an appointment of City Engineer and Highway Surveyor for Cranston, RI 18 In the same year Massie had office 301 in the State House as a consultant. 38 Mr Massie was also was a charter Swatty member (Society of Wireless Telegraph Engineers p127, "the Swatties", formed in 1907 at MIT by John Stone.) and also a charter member of IRE (Institute of Radio Engineers) which was formed in 1912 when the Swatties joined a New York city radio society. Some 50 years the IRE later merged with AIEE (American Institute of Electrical Engineers) to form IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers). 27
The Massie Wireless Telegraph System
By A. Frederick Collins
ELECTRICAL WORLD AND ENGINEER.
V0l. XLVI, No. 5.
JULY 29, 1905
The Massie Wireless Telegraph System
By A. Frederick Collins
Scientific American, May 20, 1905
Walter W Massie, a devotee of wireless telegraphy, has made it possible to communicate from the rapidly communicate from the rapidly moving sound steamers of the lines running from Fall River and Providence to New York.
Mr Massie is perfecting the invention each day and night, and he is assured that the experiment thas come to remain permanently as one of the attractive accommodations to the great traveling public while up on the water and out of sight of land.
The first equipment for the use of the wireless telegraphy was installed up on the steamer Plymouth of the Fall River line, which is now plying up and down the coast and Long Island sound each 24 hours with crowds of passengers, deeply interested in the invention and its practical application to the commercial uses' of the world.
The wireless upon the sound steamer had been in use only a day, under the direction of Mr Massie, when he felt impelled, through the persistent demands of a passenger of large business connections, to send the first commercial message from the swift moving sound liner to the wireless station located at the Point Judith lighthouse, on the very extreme end of the southeast Rhode Island coast.
It was a very foggy night and the bow watch of the big ship Plymouth was having a trying time in creeping along by the dangerous piece of sea shore. Mr Massie was endeavoring to get in to communication with the station on the shore himself, for the purpose of getting bearings, so that he might demonstrate to the officers of the Plymouth that his system was really what he had believed it to be when the steamship line management had discussed the proposition of installing the wireless upon the passenger boats.
When the Point Judith station was reached on the night in question, which was about two weeks ago, the operator on the shore was asked if he could hear the whistle of the Plymouth, and the reply came quickly back to the steamer that the tooting was very distinct, although the atmosphere around the land was thicker than mud.
Then Mr Massie asked the shore operator if he could hear the whistling buoy off the point, and how the vessel stood in relation to that.
"In about the same direction", answered the operator on the land. "and a life saver here says the Plymouth is right on the usual course."
"Thanks", ticked back Mr Massie over the ether wave, which he sent kiting out from the starboard stateroom in which the wireless kit is arranged for quick and active work at any and all times.
After this initial trial of using the wireless from a fast-moving steamer, the urgent passenger argued that if all that could be accomplished for the steamer a patron of the line ought to be assisted out of a dilemma a in which he had very suddenly found himself after leaving dry land.
It was then that Mr Massie called up the Point Judith stations again and said.
"I've got a customer with a message for Providence; can you take it? Try."
The business man wrote his message and laid it down with some misgivings.
Then in a few minutes Mr Massie said.
"Your telegram is now on the way to Providence, with instructions to-deliver tonight at all hazards."
"But it requires that there shall be an answer delivered to me tonight on this steamer. How about that?"
"All right, the shore says; we will get the answer if we can wake your friend up in Providence. The operator on shore says he is informed from Providence that there is a telephone in his house, and that the central is having some trouble in getting the people in that dwelling aroused."
About 30 minutes had elapsed from the time the first message left the steamer Plymouth, when the deeply anxious passenger was rewarded with a reply saying, "I will meet you in New York, and everything will be attended to at once."
During all of this time the Plymouth was speeding along the waters of Block Island sound and the Atlantic in the vicinity of Narragansett Bay. Mr Massie was keeping the shore station in constant communication, and the officers of the ship were being greatly aided by the information which they were frequently receiving from the source of the wireless.
Everyone having knowledge of the successful operation of the innovation and the invention of Mr Massie was elated, and quite a few of the passengers wanted to send greetings to their friends whom they had left at the dock of the Plymouth when she sailed hours before from Fall River and Newport.
During the run from the vicinity of Point Judith the operator at that place narrated some of the details of the delivery of the first commercial message to Hon Arthur Dennis, the well-known manufacturer of Providence, for that was the gentleman to receive the massage and make the reply.
It appears that the message from the Plymouth was dated "On board the Plymouth, in Block Island sound."
When this part was read off to Mr Dennis, who had just been awakened from a deep sleep, he shouted back, "What you giving us? Is the steamer ashore?"
The attempt to fully explain the matter to Mr Dennis is what consumed most of the 30 minutes, it is said, by the operators who worked the Providence end of the rush wireless message from the Plymouth.
When Mr Dennis said he understood the message he was asked for his reply, and while expressing his doubts all of the time that the message came from the steamer Plymouth, he dictated the answer, and the next morning, bright and early, Mr Dennis met the passenger who wired him from the latest sort of telegraph office on all the earth, and over which Mr Massie, the hustling Providence investigator in to the possibilities of modern electricity, presides.
Mr Massie says the position of a sound steamer can be ascertained with the greatest accuracy in thick weather and during heavy fogs, which have been abundant during the present spring nights, since the wireless system has been installed up on the steamer.
The vessel can be kept in communication by Mr Massie for more than 50 miles each way from the station at Point Judith, and each night there is a constant exchange of news, gossip and valuable information.
The stateroom assigned to Mr Massie for the apparatus is near the engine room shaft, and it has been made soundproof, the walls being coated with asbestos and a packing of hair an Inch or more thick. This is all coated with layers of shellac, and it is only when the door of the apartment is opened that the cracking sounds from the oscillator can be heard distinctly on the outside by the passengers of the boat.
Mr Massie has plenty of apparatus for use on the vessel and it is cushioned up very carefully on shelves to prevent its suffering or being dislocated by the vibration of the steamer during the heavy running hours of the trip. In connection with the invention Mr Massie has originated the oscillaphone, a sensitized needle rests upon delicate carbon and the movements of this needle, however slight, they may be are heard by the operator through a telephone receiver and the messages are thus worked out in the most scientific manner. The Morse alphabet is used for the purpose.
The oscillaphone is used to detect currents set upon the vertical wire by the impinging ether waves. The essential feature of the Massie invention, however, is the combined coherer and tapping device, an instrument so delicate that messages can be deciphered upon it when the microphone and its telephone attachment fails entirely.
The coherer contains metal filings and allows the current to flow through the relay, which sets up a heavier current. This heavier current starts the tapper, which by contact with a bridge upon which the coherer rests, jars the metal filings apart, so that the coherer is made susceptible to the next impulse or wave. In circuit with the relay is a bell signal which calls the operator and starts the whole thing in motion. Then the operator gets in his work, and one swiftest of the wireless men is William J Smith, who not so very long ago was a clerk in the Western Union office in Providence.
He is a valuable assistant to Mr Massie, and one of the operators upon the Plymouth; Mr Smith says 35 words a minute can be readily handled and that to talk over 33 miles of water is the very easiest thing on earth.
Mr Massie is a native of Providence, just 29 years old, he was a student in the mechanical and engineering departments at Tufts and Brown University, and his earlier education was in the public schools of Providence
He is the son of Councilman John G Massie a leading banker and public spirited citizen of Providence.
The following is part of a transcription of a congressional hearing on
H. J. RESOLUTION 95
A BILL TO REGULATE AND CONTROL
THE USE OF WIRELESS TELEGRAPHY
AND WIRELESS TELEPHONY
The exchange is between the following individuals:
MR. GEORGE W. ALLEN, CHAIRMAN OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE UNITED WIRELESS COMPANY, NEW YORK.
MR. CHARLES H. STEWART. AMATURE OF PHILADELPHIA, PA.
MR. WALTER W. MASSLE, GENERAL MANAGER MASSIE WIRELESS TELEGRAPH COMPANY, PROVIDENCE, R. I.
Mr. Stewart. Mr. Chairman, I represent myself and three or four other experimenters living in the vicinity of Philadelphia who have tried to conduct our experiments along legitimate lines from the start. The fact that there is interference is well known to us. I am not down here to-day to oppose commission of some men being appointed. What we do think is that on any commission that is appointed the experimenters-the honest experimenters--should be recognized.
I am an operator myself of twenty-two years standing, and I know what the interference is. I can read everything that passes through the air, and I know in many cases even the United Wireless station as far south as Hatteras interferes with Manhattan Beach, and I think Mr. Allen knows that, and therefore they have to stand by for considerable periods. I think, also, the situation might be cleared up to some extent by cooperation at the present time on the part of the wireless companies themselves the United Wireless for one, who, I think, in my opinion, extend themselves to too great distances in trying to transmit and receive, for instance, sometimes to Chicago, sometimes to Tampa, sometimes to Charleston, S. C., and the time consumed in transmission is often very great on account of the inability of the operator, possibly through interference, possibly through his inability as an operator. The time consumed in the transmission of one message is very great, and in the meantime all the other stations have to stand by.
The Chairman. That of itself would be proper subject of regulation, in your opinion?
Mr. Stewart. Yes; I think so. And then I think that the United Wireless Company, as matter of fact, ought to regulate their own operators better than they do; that is, have supervising stations.
Mr. Allen. We will pay you a good salary if you will devise us scheme.
Mr. Stewart. It is very easy to recognize a spark at one of your stations. I can almost always recognize the spark.
Mr. Allen. Yes; if you could have somebody to see the sparks.
Mr. Stewart. You could easily have way to supervise.
Mr. Allen. Do not the operators stand in together themselves and refuse to report each other?
Mr. Stewart. Of course, if you cannot depend on your men, that is different proposition; but I think you can get man you can depend on who can cover pretty good range, and he need not have any single spot to supervise. The language they use sometimes is very profane. But I do not care whether they swear at me or not; they do not hurt me.
The Chairman. Let me ask about your work in your amateur station. Is it experimental or is it merely for pleasure?
Mr. Stewart. We have been conducting line of experiments three or four years in legitimate way. We hope to get some results.
The Chairman. You are seeking---------
Mr. Stewart. We are seeking, along with some of the other experimenters, to improve the art and think man who has had the experience I have had in telegraphy is perfectly competent to handle himself in the use of the apparatus, and therefore I feel I am entitled to some consideration in the formation of board of this kind.
The Chairman. Of course it is a fact that great many of the amateurs merely maintain these stations for toys, not for any practical purpose?
Mr. Stewart. I think myself a man ought to be an operator, at least. In the first place, the man should not be allowed, if there is any way to stop it; that is the question, if you can stop it; whether any legislation would prevent it.
The Chairman. They could come pretty near doing it by a license system.
Mr. Stewart. I think so. I think a man who cannot operate to any extent is really dangerous, because he cannot understand what is going on.
STATEMENT OF MR. WALTER W. MASSLE, GENERAL MANAGER MASSIE WIRELESS TELEGRAPH COMPANY, PROVIDENCE, R. I.
Mr. Massie. I would like to ask the last gentleman who spoke how long he has been experimenting, carrying on experiments?
Mr. Stewart. For about a year and a half.
Mr. Massie. And have either you or your friends got any patents on any improvements?
Mr. Stewart. I did not come here to be examined along lines of that kind.
Mr. Massie. I was just trying to find out whether the work of the amateurs was really benefit to the art or not; whether they had produced any improvements.
Mr. Allen. Mr. Massie. While you are on that point, do you know of any instance in wireless telegraphy or wire telegraphy where the amateurs have got out any devices that were of any benefit?
Mr. Massie. No, I do not.
Mr. Allen. Is it the experimenter who devotes time to it, or the man who is in actual work?
Mr. Massie. The man who is in actual research and, to the contrary of that statement, I have spent great deal of time investigating supposed inventions that amateurs have sent me, hoping there was something of value there, and I have found in each case it was waste of energy to experiment and try to get anything out of them. In general Mr. Chairman, I want to say I am in favor of this bill I have made notes here as the previous ones have talked, and I will go over them
I believe in the question of operation we are second in importance; that is, for number of ships and shore stations in actual operation on paying basis. General Allen spoke of having the telegraph companies represented I do net favor that point. If they were represented, why not the steamship companies? They are the ones who have to use the wireless, will use it more than anyone else, probably. That would make a rather large commission. Therefore I say it is better to leave it where it is, at the present number; also that the representatives of the company should be from the commercial rather than from the theoretical side of the wireless. That brings up the point as to the word "expert" as it might be used in the wording of the bill. In the wireless vernacular an "expert" is a research man, scientific man. This bill relates to the operation, the commercial side of wireless, not the theoretical side, while it might involve the theoretical side to certain extent I believe that the commercial men, of the two, are the ones that should be recommended. The Chairman. What suggestion would you make in place of the description of the seventh man; how would you word a bill to bring in the sort of man you desire?
Mr. Massie. There is one man --I have forgotten which gentleman spoke but there is one who objected to having the Government appoint that seventh, believing that that would give the Government the balance of power. To overcome that difficulty, why not let the six appoint the seventh? Then they would have an equal right there. Does your question refer to that or the word "expert"? The Chairman. The word "expert;" how would you describe that seventh man to pet the sort of man you want?
Mr. Massie. He could be an expert or otherwise was referring really to the three from the three companies, and that would be three representatives.
The Chairman. You could change that word ''expert" and say one representative each from the War, Navy, and Treasury departments, and three representing the commercial wireless companies," leaving out the word "expert" entirely.
Mr. Massie. Yes. The Chairman. And you would attain the same end, and undoubtedly the government departments would send their experts and the commercial companies would send their experts.
Mr. Massie. Yes. In regard to the amateurs, I do not think they should have any right to come on a commission or have any representation in this matter. To cite case of what could happen in another way: Here is an amateur who makes wire telephone. He taps in on one of the trunk lines of the telephone company. Do you think it would be right to consider that boy's play to come in here for legislation and have right to be heard when he is maliciously interfering with the lines and property of a company, particularly when that company has patents covering its system, and it has gone to great deal of expense to install its system? I do not think the Government would listen to that minute I do not favor the amateur being considered in this matter.
Mr. Stewart. Mr. Massie, there is one question want to ask you. Do you not consider that the air over my property is my own, and if you send out over my air, as legal proposition should have just the same right to send out over yours? You spoke about sending out over trunk lines think it is rather extending the thing to an imaginary situation.
Mr. Massie. As the chairman has said before, that brings up new question that has never been considered.
Mr. Stewart. It is question that has to enter into it to certain degree.
Mr. Massie. The smoke of the man next door blows over your property, but you cannot close up his factory.
Mr. Stewart. We have all to agree for that reason. That is the reason say we ought to be represented by somebody, at least.
Mr. Allen. They can regulate the kind of smoke he can send out by regulating the kind of coal he shall use.
Mr. Massie. Only by a city law.
The Chairman. That is an application of the law of nuisance. If no one else desires to be heard, I want to say in conclusion that so far as am personally concerned I shall be very glad of any suggestion that may occur to any of you along these lines, if you will forward it to me before action is taken, so it can be given consideration, if anything comes to you after you go away, as to what you have said or what you have heard; because my only purpose in introducing the legislation is to attempt to clarify what seems to me is very much be muddled condition in regard to the transmission of wireless communications I have had no intention whatever of pro viding any machinery to retard development of that art, or to go in on the purely technical side and attempt to regulate it. Possibly some of you gentlemen may have gotten the contrary impression from the wording of the bill, and it so I can only say that the bill was poorly worded to express the ideas I had in my own mind. And I wish to say to you also that personally I should very vigorously oppose any legislation, whether it emanated as result of this commission or came from any other source, that would seek to restrict or retard or hamper unduly the development of this wonderful art which, I think, everybody agrees is only in its infancy. And I want it understood that there is no thought in my mind to hamper the amateur and shut him off from any enjoyment he may get from this, providing he is not interfering with legitimate business. It has occurred to me there might be some way found to regulate the use of the atmosphere that would give to the amateur all he was entitled to, give to the commercial bodies all they were entitled to, and give to the Government all it was entitled to. That is the only purpose I have had, and that will be my only purpose in pushing the matter further. want to thank you gentlemen also on behalf of the committee for the interest you have shown and for the assistance many of you have been to me personally in furnishing me data and information, and also for your presence here to-day, and unless there is something more we will call the hearing ended. Before we conclude I will say the hearings will be in print, and undoubtedly if you desire to pursue the matter further you can get copies of them from the clerk of the committee later. There will be added to the hearings a great many instances of interferences, or alleged interferences, and instances that seem to me to call for legislation of some sort on the subject, which may be of interest to you gentlemen as matters of fact. (Thereupon, at 1.50 o'clock p. m., the subcommittee adjourned.)
Entire Congressional Record
To the Editors of Electrical World, March 21st, 1908:
SIRS :The public has probably little idea of the serious menace to the future of wireless telegraphy which is offered by the Hale bill to regulate wireless telegraphy, now before Congress. Strenuous efforts have been made by government officials to force the ratification of a proposed international agreement drawn up at the International Wireless Conference held in Berlin, Germany, during October and November of 1906. This agreement, which was to take effect June, 1908, necessitated action by the present Congress, and was referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations, of which Senator Cullom is chairman. The committee for a month or more had hearings at which various departments of the government and wireless companies were represented, and the matter was finally pigeon-holed. Not to be balked, however, the Navy Department fathered the bill now before Congress, which embodies all the evils contained in the Berlin agreement.
It would be interesting to know whether the various government officials are acting blindly or are knowingly attempting to force legislation that will have the immediate effect of arresting the development of a valuable art and deprive the public of a service that would in time give them trans-oceanic telegraphy at one-tenth the rates now paid for cable service. The bill, which would give the government full control of the wireless field, deals with existing conditions without considering the fact that wireless is still in its infancy and is making enormous strides each year. Where would our tele¬graph service be to-day had the government taken control of it in the forties and said there could be only one wire between two places? It is true that there is a great deal of interference between wireless stations to-day, but is it to the best interests of all to have the government take control and say there shall be only one station in a given locality for the reason that another nearby station would cause interference? It would be far better to let the situation stand as it is and give inventors an opportunity to overcoming the present difficulties; and from my practical work in this field, I -know that-it will not be many months before this is accomplished.
Under the proposed act we would be compelled to go to the government for a license whenever we wished to build a station, in which case a permit would be granted if the station is to be in a locality distant from other stations. For instance, assume that we desire to establish an independent trans-Atlantic wireless service, and we apply to the government for a permit, the locality being, say, somewhere on the New England Coast. There are already numerous stations the entire length of the coast, and if we were fortunate enough to obtain a permit at all it would be with restrictions to hours during which none of the other stations cares to operate. Moreover, is it to be supposed that the telegraph and cable companies will, if the Hale bill is enacted, remain passive and allow us to establish trans-Atlantic service when a protest and a little influence used in Washington will prevent it?
The telegraph and cable companies have been very persistent in publicly ignoring wireless telegraphy as a competitor, but a recent circular issued to the managers of all its offices by the Western Union Telegraph Company indicates the real attitude. In this circular it is ordered that all messages offered by the Marconi Company for transmission to points on this side. must be treated as local messages, be dated at Glace Bay, N. B., and be charged for at the local rate. "Code messages cannot be accepted in such messages, which must be fully addressed in accordance with the rules governing the transmission of domestic messages. If the Marconi wishes to give any indi¬cation of other origin, they must do so in the body of the message. The message must be checked at full commercial rate, whether addressed to a newspaper, individual or firm. Messages addressed to parties on the other side routed via Marconi wireless or Glace Bay, cannot be accepted. We will, however, of course, accept messages addressed to the Marconi Company, or anyone else at Glace Bay, but no other direction or indication can appear in the address. Such messages should be checked at full commercial rates, and the tolls to Glace Bay only collected. We cannot under any circumstances accept the Marconi tolls or anything beyond Glace Bay on these messages, but must treat them solely and wholly as local messages between the point of origin and Glace Bay.
It is very easy to read between the lines of this circular and note that the telegraph companies are realizing their danger from competition; and with the government innocently (?) acting in their interest, the public would be deprived of all the benefits of legitimate competition.
As for the development of wireless telegraphy, we have only to compare the present conditions in Great Britain and this country. When the Marconi Company was first formed it obtained a to-year license or contract from the English government; as a result it is the only company to-day in England, and the English battle-ships have only such apparatus as the Marconi Company can give them. On the other hand, in the United States there are now seven or eight companies in vigor¬ous competition, which has resulted in improvement of apparatus and increase of efficiency to such an extent that our navy to-day stands first in wireless and holds the record for long-distance marine communication. Our merchant marine is also getting the advantage of competition and receiving wireless service at reasonable rates, while the English merchant marine is compelled to use the Marconi system or none, and at what-ever price demanded.
As to the grievance of the government with respect to in-terference, I may cite a case that happened on the Sound last fall. A government message was being sent from Washington to Newport via Fire Island (all land stations); complaint was made because Sound boats interfered with the transmission and it was asked that boat work should cease when government plants were sending. In time of peace, and when both the Western Union and Postal Telegraph Companies are rendering efficient service between Washington and Newport, is it just to make such a demand and use wireless to the detriment of the service of boats which are dependent wholly to use the wireless.
It is lack of capital that is holding back the development wireless telegraphy, which lack is largely due to the uncertain status of the industry owing to threatened interference by the government: but, even with dearth of capital, I firmly believe that within five years, barring government interference, we will see it successfully competing with cables and trunk lines, and that trans-oceanic rates will be cut down to a fraction of what they are to-day. From my experience and observation, I am thoroughly convinced that within 10 years the laying of trans-oceanic cables will entirely cease, and while the use of the present cables will undoubtedly be continued, the wireless system will be installed and maintained at a cost less than what would be the interest on the cost of a new cable.
The art of wireless telegraphy is still young. Scarcely a decade has passed since its practical value was first demon-strated. Important improvements are constantly being made, and with increasing knowledge of etheric radiation inventors will still further perfect the art unless all incentive to do so is removed by governmental action such as the Hale bill authorizes.
WALTER W MASSIE, PROVIDENCE, R. I. 24
Mr Massie died in 1941 28
Brown Alumni Monthly
Vol. 41, no. 7
Providence, RI, 1941
January 22, 1941
The United States Department of the Interior National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places lists Walter W Massie as having 14 US Patents. This however seems to be incorrect. I have not been able to find Patent US769780 Wireless Telegraph System. When this patent number is searched in the US Patents it comes up as being a Fastener, unrelated to Massie. Another Patent listed as being Massie is US787780, Change Over Switch.
Comparing the two Patents
US769780 WIRELESS TELEGRAPHIC SYSTEM April, 1905
US787780 CHANGE OVER SWITCH April 18, 1905
We see they both end in 780. US769780 is listed as being patented April, 1905 and US787780 is listed ad being patented April 18, 1905. Also looking at US787780 WIRELESS TELEGRAPHIC SYSTEM, the major component is a switch. I believe they somehow got combined by whoever put the list together.