Advocate's comments on the nomination
(Advocate's comments copied from discussion attached to the proposal for this milestone, since they apply more to the nomination)
This is a fine nomination that needs more documentation or a qualification regarding the consequences of the 1913 demonstrations. Unfortunately no one has written with any detail on the history of electronic railroad communications. Michael Duffys 2003 book, used here, gives no primary documentation to explain the evolution from inductive and phone systems to radio.Duffy notes instead that railroads continued to use inductive and telephone systems for mobile communications, and that radio systems were used only when the train was stopped: “its use was in general communications, and not with moving trains.” (p. 112) An article in the February 1956 Radio-Electronics magazine, “Railroad Radio’s First Decade” (p. 62-64), confirms this. That decade refers to 1946-1956, not 1913-1923.
To resolve this problem, I suggest the following changes to the nomination justification:
The November, 1913 transmission between the train moving at 60 mph and this fixed tower, as well as those in Scranton, PA and Hoboken, NJ, convincingly demonstrated that such communications were feasible, reliable, and practical. For example, it showed that the antenna/receiver on the train extending just 18 inches above the train was adequate for good communication performance. During a snowstorm in the following February, only the Lackawanna continued to operate because its radio system was not disabled by the weather.
Nonetheless railroad companies were slow to adopt radio frequencies to supplement or replace inductive and telephone communications systems. At the same time, David Sarnoff, the assistant chief engineer of American Marconi who operated the on-board railroad radio in 1913, lobbied for wider implementation at the American Railway Association conventions throughout the 1910s and 1920s. His new company, the Radio Corporation of America (RCA), was a leader in promoting the use of Very High Frequency (VHF) radio communications on railroads in the 1930s. After World War II the Federal Communications Commission allotted bandwidth for the application and in ten years American railways had installed some 10,000 radio stations across their installations. Given the dominance of trains for high speed transportation in the 1900's, these results provided an advantageous enabling technology supporting communication between stations and trains. This led to improved safety and convenience of train transportation as well as future developments of wireless communications in other applications . [This last clause also needs documentation to support the spin-off argument, or it should be dropped.]
Besides the 1956 Radio-Electronics article I cite above, the nominators should consult the December 6, 1913 Scientific American article on the initial demonstrations, which includes a photo of Sarnoff operating the station inside the railroad car: http://davidsarnoff.org/gallery-ds/DS_RRs_1913.html. I can provide a higher resolution copy if necessary.
Amagoun (Talk | contribs | block)02:54, 3 May 2010EditHistoryPermalinkDeleteReply