Sunday, 8 January 2012

Understanding Early Telegraph Systems

Last year I worked on an educational project about the Titanic's Marconi Room. In this I was trying to understand the component parts inside the Marconi Room. I was determined to understand the entire diagram above, but not having any real foundation in understanding schematic diagrams meant it was quite hard to figure out what was going on.

Diagram with my annotation (click to see larger version)

However, I was struck by this anecdote regarding how necessity and commercial competition drove the invention of the multiple tuner:
From Spark Museum: "Prior to the introduction of the Multiple Tuner by the Marconi Wireless Company, receivers had only limited tuning ability which left them with no effective way of discriminating between the signals of multiple simultaneous transmitters. Marconi was well aware of this limitation which was brought painfully home to him in 1903 during a demonstration of his wireless apparatus by Dr. J. Ambrose Fleming. According to the story, Fleming was about to demonstrate the system when the Morse printer began chattering rapidly with the words: "There was a young man from Italy, who diddled the public so prettily..." The source of this embarrassment to Fleming and Marconi was a business rival who had set up his own transmitter as an attempt to discredit Marconi.

While the incident was certainly embarrassing, it did provide Marconi with an excruciatingly clear message: For wireless to be of commercial value, the ability to distinguish between multiple transmitters was a must."

Imagine a time so far back when people were just creating transmitters, without having the concept of being able to send it only to different receivers! I often feel like that when I am trying to build something and I don't even know what I'm doing when all of a sudden, I become aware of the bigger picture!

Picture 22
Final Artwork (Illustration by DBBD)

See also:
More information on the Marconi Wireless Room
Spark Museum

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