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Oral-History:Ellery W. Stone

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It was. The chap who then controlled it was a wealthy sugar magnate in San Francisco, from quite a famous family. The Sprekles? His father Klaus Sprekles came from Germany and founded this sugar refinery in Hawaii. Their family fortune came from that. The one who bought the controlling interest in the Federal Telegraph was Rudolf Spreckles I met him casually in a bank one day when I was with a friend of mine, who had been a marine officer in China, in the Navy in the states. We were introduced the next day, Mr. Speckles asked me to lunch. By the time the lunch was over he offered me the presidency of the company, which I didn't think I should take, but he insisted I take it. My reasons for feeling that I shouldn’t take it, the chaps in there were far older than I, like Frederick Colster, V. Ford Greeves, [[Leonard Fuller Oral History|Leonard Fuller]] and so on. I just didn't think they would accept me, but they did. Dr. Colster had invented the decremeter when he worked at the Bureau of Standards.  
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It was. The chap who then controlled it was a wealthy sugar magnate in San Francisco, from quite a famous family. The Sprekles? His father Klaus Sprekles came from Germany and founded this sugar refinery in Hawaii. Their family fortune came from that. The one who bought the controlling interest in the Federal Telegraph was Rudolf Spreckles I met him casually in a bank one day when I was with a friend of mine, who had been a marine officer in China, in the Navy in the states. We were introduced the next day, Mr. Speckles asked me to lunch. By the time the lunch was over he offered me the presidency of the company, which I didn't think I should take, but he insisted I take it. My reasons for feeling that I shouldn’t take it, the chaps in there were far older than I, like Frederick Colster, V. Ford Greeves, [[Oral-History:Leonard Fuller|Leonard Fuller]] and so on. I just didn't think they would accept me, but they did. Dr. Colster had invented the decremeter when he worked at the Bureau of Standards.  
  
 
We got interested into going into the broadcast receiver business. Colster, a brilliant man, extremely brilliant, conceived the idea that it was just silly to have separate RF tuning. In other words, he came out with the first single gang condenser that tuned the three or sometimes four RF circuits ahead of the detector. I knew we didn’t have the kind of facilities to manufacture such a device. At Palo Alto, when you make a 200 kilowatt arc, you can’t handle a small receiving sets and that kind of production. You didn’t need an assembly line and so on. The local representative in San Francisco for C. Brandeis Company, who manufactured headsets in Newark, and whom I might see occasionally with Electrical Association luncheons, suggested that we might try to make a deal with the Brandeis Product Corporation in Newark to manufacture the Colster set. This we did start as many of these things did with a contract, and later developed into Mr. Speckles financial capabilities, into our acquiring the Brandeis Products Corporation and they were merged with the Federal Telegraph, being called The Colster Radio Corporation.  
 
We got interested into going into the broadcast receiver business. Colster, a brilliant man, extremely brilliant, conceived the idea that it was just silly to have separate RF tuning. In other words, he came out with the first single gang condenser that tuned the three or sometimes four RF circuits ahead of the detector. I knew we didn’t have the kind of facilities to manufacture such a device. At Palo Alto, when you make a 200 kilowatt arc, you can’t handle a small receiving sets and that kind of production. You didn’t need an assembly line and so on. The local representative in San Francisco for C. Brandeis Company, who manufactured headsets in Newark, and whom I might see occasionally with Electrical Association luncheons, suggested that we might try to make a deal with the Brandeis Product Corporation in Newark to manufacture the Colster set. This we did start as many of these things did with a contract, and later developed into Mr. Speckles financial capabilities, into our acquiring the Brandeis Products Corporation and they were merged with the Federal Telegraph, being called The Colster Radio Corporation.  
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I think we made the first mass produced and the first AC-operated receiver. The current for the filament in [[Electron (or Vacuum) Tubes|vacuum tubes]] in 1925 or 1926, was done first with a separate power pack that was independent from the radio chassis. Well we combined it, and I think we were the first, and it made a good hit. We got up to making 5,000 sets a day in another plant we had to lease on Thomas Street, in Newark. We were going fine, but my engineers led us astray by suggesting that we die cast the condenser, which was a disaster because they had no temper, and if the rotors moved they stayed where they fell. It was terrible, we lost a lot of money. We dug ourselves out of that and then the engineers took me astray another year by coming out with a molded wooden cabinet and this time we licked the condenser trouble, but the supply are the molded cabinets fell flat and couldn’t make deliveries and that put us in a bad way.  
 
I think we made the first mass produced and the first AC-operated receiver. The current for the filament in [[Electron (or Vacuum) Tubes|vacuum tubes]] in 1925 or 1926, was done first with a separate power pack that was independent from the radio chassis. Well we combined it, and I think we were the first, and it made a good hit. We got up to making 5,000 sets a day in another plant we had to lease on Thomas Street, in Newark. We were going fine, but my engineers led us astray by suggesting that we die cast the condenser, which was a disaster because they had no temper, and if the rotors moved they stayed where they fell. It was terrible, we lost a lot of money. We dug ourselves out of that and then the engineers took me astray another year by coming out with a molded wooden cabinet and this time we licked the condenser trouble, but the supply are the molded cabinets fell flat and couldn’t make deliveries and that put us in a bad way.  
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Well that just made the American Navy furious, “What the hell do the British got to do with it!” Well that died, then the American admiral came over from Algiers for the first time. He saw what the picture was, and he sent off a terrific message that I had to be made a rear admiral. This was only when I was deputy, and that didn’t get anywhere. Then finally when we liberated Rome, another message had gone forward, just a day before we liberated Rome which was just about the day that we also invaded Normandy. Roosevelt sent my name to the Senate to be promoted to rear Admiral, it died for six months because they had never made a reserve in the field into an admiral. We had one at home, he was always the top senior reserve officer. Well, [[Jay W. Forrester|Forrester]] came out and we were under inspection, and he said, “Look, Stone. If you resign from the Army, I’ll make you a major general.” And I said, “Mr. Secretary, don’t ask me to resign, you can send me to anywhere in the world you want to as a captain, I don’t want to put on a bronze suit.” He laughed and he said, “Well, I can see what I can do.” When he got home, he put through what we call a gun boat appointment as commodore. That means it’s good for that session of Congress. If you are not ratified by Congress in that rank, or if my pending nomination which just died in the Naval committee where it confirmed it, it means at the end of 1944 I would have busted back to captain under the law.  
 
Well that just made the American Navy furious, “What the hell do the British got to do with it!” Well that died, then the American admiral came over from Algiers for the first time. He saw what the picture was, and he sent off a terrific message that I had to be made a rear admiral. This was only when I was deputy, and that didn’t get anywhere. Then finally when we liberated Rome, another message had gone forward, just a day before we liberated Rome which was just about the day that we also invaded Normandy. Roosevelt sent my name to the Senate to be promoted to rear Admiral, it died for six months because they had never made a reserve in the field into an admiral. We had one at home, he was always the top senior reserve officer. Well, [[Jay W. Forrester|Forrester]] came out and we were under inspection, and he said, “Look, Stone. If you resign from the Army, I’ll make you a major general.” And I said, “Mr. Secretary, don’t ask me to resign, you can send me to anywhere in the world you want to as a captain, I don’t want to put on a bronze suit.” He laughed and he said, “Well, I can see what I can do.” When he got home, he put through what we call a gun boat appointment as commodore. That means it’s good for that session of Congress. If you are not ratified by Congress in that rank, or if my pending nomination which just died in the Naval committee where it confirmed it, it means at the end of 1944 I would have busted back to captain under the law.  
  
So come December, nothing. And I finally sent a cable to the British foreign office, explaining the situation. I pointed out that under the law I would have to revert back and the census would never be understood by the foreign military people serving under me. I had a Russian major general serving under me. I requested to be transferred by the end of January, any other assignment that they wished to give me. That apparently broke the ice, because I left my villa in Rome and a reporter for Stars and Stripes called up and he said, “Congratulations Commodore!” And I said, “For what” and he said, “Well you have just been nominated by Mr. Roosevelt to be a Rear Admiral.” I said, “Hell, he nominated me for that last June, that isn’t news.” Well he said that he was press and I was kind of rough with him which I shouldn’t have been. And he said, “Well, that’s all I know, I got the signal.” I said thanks very much, but it must be a mix up. The next day I get a cable from Colonel Baine, “Congratulations on your promotion to Rear Admiral.” By this time his son was my aide. As a commodore I was allowed one. And I said to young Baine, “Your old man is crazy. It can’t go through in twenty-four hours. The original one had never been acted on.” Well what happened was Roosevelt pulled out the original from captain to Rear admiral, put in a new one from commodore to rear admiral. This time Admiral King went before the Senate committee and you said, “You have to do this.” Before he had been unwilling to, and I should have explained it. Senator Walsh, he was head of the Naval Affairs Committee, when I was nominated the first time in June, called up Admiral King and said, “Look. This is the first time. We have been asked to promote a man during a war from reserve to rear admiral. But, Admiral King, if you feel that it should be done, well we will do it for your sake.” And King said, “Don’t do it for my sake, I won’t permit it. He had been nominated by the people in the field from whom he served, he should have the job and it is up to you to take the responsibility, which they never did.” So this time, King went before the committee and said it had to be done and that’s how I came to be a rear admiral.  
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So come December, nothing. And I finally sent a cable to the British foreign office, explaining the situation. I pointed out that under the law I would have to revert back and the [[U.S. Census Bureau‎|census]] would never be understood by the foreign military people serving under me. I had a Russian major general serving under me. I requested to be transferred by the end of January, any other assignment that they wished to give me. That apparently broke the ice, because I left my villa in Rome and a reporter for Stars and Stripes called up and he said, “Congratulations Commodore!” And I said, “For what” and he said, “Well you have just been nominated by Mr. Roosevelt to be a Rear Admiral.” I said, “Hell, he nominated me for that last June, that isn’t news.” Well he said that he was press and I was kind of rough with him which I shouldn’t have been. And he said, “Well, that’s all I know, I got the signal.” I said thanks very much, but it must be a mix up. The next day I get a cable from Colonel Baine, “Congratulations on your promotion to Rear Admiral.” By this time his son was my aide. As a commodore I was allowed one. And I said to young Baine, “Your old man is crazy. It can’t go through in twenty-four hours. The original one had never been acted on.” Well what happened was Roosevelt pulled out the original from captain to Rear admiral, put in a new one from commodore to rear admiral. This time Admiral King went before the Senate committee and you said, “You have to do this.” Before he had been unwilling to, and I should have explained it. Senator Walsh, he was head of the Naval Affairs Committee, when I was nominated the first time in June, called up Admiral King and said, “Look. This is the first time. We have been asked to promote a man during a war from reserve to rear admiral. But, Admiral King, if you feel that it should be done, well we will do it for your sake.” And King said, “Don’t do it for my sake, I won’t permit it. He had been nominated by the people in the field from whom he served, he should have the job and it is up to you to take the responsibility, which they never did.” So this time, King went before the committee and said it had to be done and that’s how I came to be a rear admiral.  
  
 
Well, the job in Italy was extremely interesting. We had to carry out orders through the commission, and I had a command of about two thousand, including American and British enlisted men. And I had French and Russians serving under me, although we didn’t have any French and Russians on the Commission, under the four power deal, they were entitled to that representation on the commission. Well we had the job feeding the population with restoring the bombed-out industry, getting the supplies in like coal, and fertilizer. Italy had no fertilizer since the war began, they always got it from North Africa, from the French. I had the political negotiation connection within the boundaries, and we had this problem of Trieste, which was totally unnecessary because the British 8th Army had swung out over the northern end of the Adriatic and were ready to take Trieste. Then of course our State Department and the British Foreign Office sent signals saying “Don’t be unkind to Tito.” So we never took it and it was under military government.  
 
Well, the job in Italy was extremely interesting. We had to carry out orders through the commission, and I had a command of about two thousand, including American and British enlisted men. And I had French and Russians serving under me, although we didn’t have any French and Russians on the Commission, under the four power deal, they were entitled to that representation on the commission. Well we had the job feeding the population with restoring the bombed-out industry, getting the supplies in like coal, and fertilizer. Italy had no fertilizer since the war began, they always got it from North Africa, from the French. I had the political negotiation connection within the boundaries, and we had this problem of Trieste, which was totally unnecessary because the British 8th Army had swung out over the northern end of the Adriatic and were ready to take Trieste. Then of course our State Department and the British Foreign Office sent signals saying “Don’t be unkind to Tito.” So we never took it and it was under military government.  
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You can be sure that I am very happy to do it and I sometimes wonder whether I should send any of my papers over there.  
 
You can be sure that I am very happy to do it and I sometimes wonder whether I should send any of my papers over there.  
  
[[Category:People_and_organizations|Oral-History:Ellery W. Stone]] [[Category:Engineers|Oral-History:Ellery W. Stone]] [[Category:Inventors|Oral-History:Ellery W. Stone]] [[Category:Communications|Oral-History:Ellery W. Stone]] [[Category:Radio_communication|Oral-History:Ellery W. Stone]] [[Category:Culture_and_society|Oral-History:Ellery W. Stone]] [[Category:Defense_&_security|Category:Defense_&amp;_security]] [[Category:World_War_I|Oral-History:Ellery W. Stone]] [[Category:World_War_II|Oral-History:Ellery W. Stone]] [[Category:Leisure|Oral-History:Ellery W. Stone]] [[Category:Theatre_&_cinema|Category:Theatre_&amp;_cinema]] [[Category:Telegraphy|Oral-History:Ellery W. Stone]] [[Category:Communication_equipment|Oral-History:Ellery W. Stone]] [[Category:Receivers|Oral-History:Ellery W. Stone]]
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[[Category:People and organizations|Stone]] [[Category:Engineers|Stone]] [[Category:Inventors|Stone]] [[Category:Communications|Stone]] [[Category:Radio communication|Stone]] [[Category:Culture and society|Stone]] [[Category:Defense & security|Stone]] [[Category:World War I|Stone]] [[Category:World War II|Stone]] [[Category:Leisure|Stone]] [[Category:Theatre & cinema|Stone]] [[Category:Telegraphy|Stone]] [[Category:Communication equipment|Stone]] [[Category:Receivers|Stone]]

Revision as of 19:15, 26 March 2012

Contents

About Ellery W. Stone

Ellery Stone's early fascination with electrical apparatus shaped his later career in the electronics communications field. Stone's youthful experiences with amateur radio and ships' wireless radio equipment prepared him for his Naval Communications Service activities during World War I. He licensed ship-to-shore operators and transmitted Naval signals from California. His postwar broadcasting experiences eventually led him to become President of the Federal Telegraph Company and then Vice-President of the International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation.

Stone discusses his childhood love of electronics and some of his experiences during and shortly after World War I. He was associated with the Federal Telegraph Company in California in the 1910s and 1920s, working with Dr. Lee de Forest at the time when he invented the vacuum tube amplifier. Federal in the 1920s became part of a several combinations of companies, eventually being acquired by ITT. At the time of the acquisition, he became an officer with ITT. A Naval Reserve officer, he served in both World Wars as an expert on communications. During World War II, he participated in the African and European campaigns. In the postwar period, he stayed with ITT was an executive and contributed to telecommunications efforts in Africa, Europe, and elsewhere. Stone was decorated by the governments of several nations.

About the Interview

ELLERY W. STONE: An Interview Conducted by Frank A. Polkinghorn, April 24, 1974

Interview # 009 for the IEEE History Center, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.

Copyright Statement

This manuscript is being made available for research purposes only. All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to the IEEE History Center. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of the Director of IEEE History Center.

Request for permission to quote for publication should be addressed to the IEEE History Center Oral History Program, 39 Union Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8538 USA. It should include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the user.

It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:

Ellery W. Stone, an oral history conducted in 1974 by Frank Polkinghorn, IEEE History Center, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.

Interview

Interview: Ellery W. Stone Interviewer: Frank Polkinghorn Date: 24 April 1974 Place: Nutley, New Jersey

Early Amateur Experiences

Polkinghorn:

This is an interview with Admiral Ellery Wheeler Stone, made on April 24th, 1974, at his residence in Nutley, New Jersey. Mr. Stone was formerly President of the Federal Telegraph Company, Vice-President of the International Telephone and Telegraph Company, and numerous subsidiaries of the IT&T Company. Admiral Stone, I believe you were born in Oakland, California in 1894?

Stone:

That's right, January 14th.

Polkinghorn:

I would like to talk to you about some of your amateur experiences in those early days. What can you tell me about those?

Stone:

Well, I became interested in electrical apparatus in 1908, at the time of my fourteenth birthday, when my mother gave me, as a birthday present, a small German battery-operated motor. With the aid of Popular Mechanics, as I remember, I rewired the motor so that I could reverse its direction of rotation, and from there my whole life became oriented to electronics as we call it today. I began as a ham building my own transmitter and receiver. In the receiving end, I remember I started with two carbon blocks taken from a dry cell, with one sharpened to a very sharp edge, and across which you laid a needle. Then you applied a low voltage DC to it, and hooked up a pair of telephone headsets, to listen with. When the incoming signal arrived it lowered the rather high resistance of the carbon and needle contact, and enabled you to receive a signal. In those days the signal was damped waves, either from a sixty-cycle ham set, or a two hundred and forty cycle synchronous Marconi spark transmitter on the ships, or a five hundred cycle quenched spark transmitting set such as were made in those days by Telefunken and later picked up by De Forest. As a ham, it took me a little while to learn the code because there was no one around to teach me the code. So I memorized it, then listened constantly to ships transmitting, and sooner or later some guy would come along with a slow enough fist so that you could make out what he was sending, and gradually I learned the code. I wasn't too bad; I got up to forty words, transmitting with a bug and even in World War II I found that I could copy at the rate of thirty-five words per minute. But beyond that there wasn't much to tell. I was a member of a group which later helped me to get through my university because they were all senior to me, and led me through courses. Simultaneously, I took a final, so that I was able to get in all the electrical and physical courses in one postgraduate course in the year between 1912 and 1913.

Polkinghorn:

Who were these people?

Stone:

Well, there was some rather famous names within our group Haraden Pratt and Lewis Clement. Both of them went with the Marconi Company after graduation. Pratt at the trans-Pacific radio station end of the Marconi wireless circuit to Hawaii and Clement went to an equivalent radio station at Hawaii. Others in the group were Harold Butler, and one or two others who I have lost track of, but the others that I have named, together with myself, purely by coincidence all ended with ITT at later stages in our respective careers.

Polkinghorn:

There was a Bay Counties Radio Club, wasn't there?

Stone:

It was called the Bay Counties Wireless Telegraph Association, and I had my original amateur station license granted by them before we even had government licenses, and at that time I remember that. Haraden Pratt was President and Lewis Clement was Secretary. Of course, in those days you picked your own transmitting frequency, and if any other ham chose to camp on your frequency you went over and made rude noises, and if that didn't work you pulled his antenna down. It was the days of free enterprise and no regulation. The only regulation came in 1910, when due to a marine disaster where there was only one radio operator aboard ship and he had turned in when another ship was sending "S.O.S." near enough to have been heard if the operator had been on watch. This unhappy tragedy caused the passage of a law in our country called the Wireless Act of 1910, and known generally as the Ship Act, under which all ships carrying fifty or more persons aboard, passengers and crew together, were required to have a transmitter aboard capable of sending two hundred miles in daylight and requiring two operators aboard who had to be licensed to show their proficiency in sending and receiving and in maintaining the equipment. The government appointed two inspectors, one in San Francisco and one in New York, to administer the act. They were called Wireless Inspectors, but they were frequently just regular citizens who inspected the equipment aboard ships to get their commercial license. Those of us in San Francisco generally went up to Mare Island and took the tests from the radio officer in charge at the Mare Island Navy Yard. He issued an operator’s license to the successful candidates by and with the authority of the Department of Commerce, which by law administered the act.

Work as Radio Inspector

Polkinghorn:

I see. Well, you were soon in that business yourself. You quit college and went to work as an assistant radio inspector in San Francisco, I believe.

Stone:

That's right, I did that for thirty days while I was still at the university, and that was again early in 1912. The new law went into effect on December 12th or 13th of 1912. R.B Wolbertson was a radio inspector then at San Francisco. Three assistant inspectors were appointed, one in New York, one in Baltimore, one in San Francisco. He got the Federal Service Commission to reduce the age limit to twenty from twenty-one, so I could take the exam, and I passed. I think I was the second highest, and got the job as an inspector at San Francisco at the very meager pay of one hundred dollars a month.

Polkinghorn:

Well, that's not very bad at all, for that day.

Stone:

No, no. Probably could save more than I can now!

Polkinghorn:

Yes. Tell us something about what your duties were there. You went around with a decremeters on all the ships, didn’t you?

Stone:

I had to inspect all U.S. ships registered that came to San Francisco of U.S. register once a year. I mean a full inspection. And that took lugging about forty-five pounds of instruments, the decremeter which was very heavy, and an antenna hot wire which was a meter to measure the outgoing signal current. Then with all that gear you had to inspect the ship once its station safety license had been issued. You had to inspect it at the time of each sailing to determine that the equipment at least functioned, and that there were two operators aboard sober enough to know what they were doing. It took a lot of walking on the wharfs of San Francisco, I can assure you.

Polkinghorn:

I bet it did. Any outstanding experiences that you had as an inspector, that you'd like to tell us about?

Stone:

I don't think there was anything special. I had some interesting contacts. I used to have lunch aboard ships many times with the skipper and his officers. On some ships the food was good, on others it wasn't. I think the Dutch, German, and American ships fed the better than the British, but that is an experience that I later encountered in other walks of life.

Polkinghorn:

Well, in the Navy we always just hung around and got invitations to dinner from the Chief Petty Offices. Before we went to see them the officers saw that we got twice as much to eat.

Stone:

Well, on the British ships you could get a drink, which you never could on the American Naval ships.

World War I and the Navy

Polkinghorn:

You went in the Navy after you took this job, I take it?

Stone:

When World War I began, all regulation of radio communications passed under the control of the Navy so far as any signal that could be considered interstate. Within the confines of the state it theoretically came under the Army. But since most radio signals could be heard in more than one state, the Navy had virtual control. So the assistant radio inspectors and the radio inspectors were given the choice of whether they wanted to be transferred to the Army Signal Corps or the Navy Communications Service. I elected the Navy because since I had always been on the waterfront, I was mainly interested in ships. The result was that I was commissioned as a lieutenant junior grade, and was ordered as the Assistant District Communications Superintendent for the southern half of the 12th naval district, which was headquartered then at San Diego. After World War I the 12th was split, so what I headed up was what is today the 13th naval district. When I say headed up, I mean the communications office. Now, our headquarters, the communications headquarters were located on Point Loma adjoining San Diego, and that was a receiving and control station for the complete San Diego installation. Our main transmitter was at Chula [Vista?]. It was quite a few miles away towards the east and south of the city of San Diego, and there we had a two hundred kilowatt Federal arc that was a Poulsen arc operated on DC, together with a 3300 foot self-supporting steel tower and an antenna stretched between three towers. In those days we spoke in terms of meters, but the wavelength in kilocycles was somewhere between fifteen and twenty kilocycles. If I am correct, I remember we could hear the similar installation at Panama without rectifying the signal, those of us who had good hearing. I mean it came out as an audio signal. Our station senior man was a two-stripe lieutenant and regular Navy, who was soon ordered to sea and was promoted to head the whole show as a District Communications 2nd Lieutenant. We worked Arlington, the Panama Canal installation, Honolulu, and I don't recall whether we worked and the Philippines or not. That was probably relayed at Honolulu, but I really don't remember.

Polkinghorn:

I believe it was picked up directly if they could, or if they couldn't they asked Honolulu for a repeat.

Stone:

That's right. That's just what happened. In addition I had stations of lowest power, one former Naval station at Point Arguello, which was north of Santa Barbara, about two hundred and twenty-five miles south of San Francisco, as I remember. We took over during the war such commercial ship-to-shore stations as were in operation in that area. I had a Federal Telegraph station at Englewood, a suburb of L.A. with a receiving station remote-controlled in the city of Los Angeles. Also my duties involved recruiting for my own station and licensing operators as I did before the war came. For that last function I would go off once a quarter from San Diego to Los Angeles and conduct examinations for ships’ operators at the YMCA in Los Angeles. Amateur operations were forbidden during the war, so there was no question having to issue amateur licenses, because in fact all amateur stations were closed down during the war. That tour of duty lasted for me until early 1919, when I was ordered to the receiving ship at San Francisco for an administrative job handling personnel, who were mostly getting out of the Navy following the war.

Civilian Electronic Work after War

Stone:

At the end of 1919 I was returned to the inactive list and went to work for the Kilburn and Clark Manufacturing Company, who had opened a San Francisco office for selling sets for hams, and sending and receiving equipment for ships.

Polkinghorn:

Their main office was in Seattle?

Stone:

That's right. The chief engineer whose name was Simpson, I think, there was very able and theoretically competent in electronic theory. He did some very valuable work in the field of impulse excitation, which enabled them to avoid the tuned circuit patent held by the Marconi Company because you could excite the primary circuit impulse of a transmitter being impulse at a different frequency than the transmitting frequency of the antenna. They were not then two tuned circuits which avoided the Marconi patent at the time.

Polkinghorn:

About that point in time you had some connection with de Forest? And then you went with the old Morehead and A.P.?

Stone:

Yes. While I was with Kilburn and Clark, I was asked by an attorney whom my family knew, knowing I had some experience in the radio field, if I would take over management of the Morehead Laboratory, which had manufactured vacuum tubes under a temporary license from Marconi and De Forest for the Navy. During the war they were making receiving tubes. They had fallen on hard times since the end of the war and had lost the government contract. So I took that job on and at about the same time Lee De Forest came out to the West coast and established the West Coast company, and then if I remember right he granted us the license in peace-time and didn’t get it from Marconi. They had an office on Third Street, in San Francisco, and they asked me, because of the affiliations by patent license with Morehead, to take on the general managership of de Forest for that office. It was during that time that I got de Forest to put a radio telegraph station into the California Theater in San Francisco. I think they ran an antenna up to the roof of the Call building. I remember the frequency was around twelve-hundred meters. Well, I kept the double job until I quit the Morehead lab. By that time we called it the Atlantic and the Pacific.

Polkinghorn:

How did that happen to get changed?

Stone:

That was part of the temporary reorganization.

Polkinghorn:

In order to take in de Forest?

Stone:

No, we didn’t control de Forest. That was separate. I don't remember if it was the relationship or how we got clear. Maybe we made an agreement with the creditors of the old Morehead lab to enable to work out the situation. One of the creditors was a chap by the name of Henry M. Shaw, from Newark, who operated the Bakelite Molding Company in Newark. He had supplied Morehead with the bases for its tubes, which it made during the war, for which provided Shaw was owed a substantial sum of money. So he took over the presidency of this company and I was General Manager. But Shaw and I differed on something, I’ve forgotten what it was.

China

Polkinghorn:

The company took on somewhat of a sales representative status for things that they didn’t build themselves, didn't they?

Stone:

Well, at that time, the only thing Morehead sold were tubes. Later they may have taken on different and things. I think we helped the De Forest sales, because we did not make equipment. I left in early 1922, and went out to China on an offer by a group of San Francisco Chinese who were interested and hoped for the success of Sun Yat Sen, who led the revolution against the Chinese government of the time, which was a royal Empress. He started in Canton. He had the services of an American aviator, an ex-army flyer, and through these Chinese in San Francisco-Sun Yat Sen offered me a radio job there as a radio expert for the Southern Chinese Army. I thought I'd have a fling at it, and after I was in Canton for twenty-four hours they attempted to assassinate the Chief of Staff of Sun Yat Sen. From then on he was only interested in hiring bodyguards, and not radio men. So I was flat without a job out there. My brother told me about the Pacific States Electric Company which was a chain of jobbing houses in the electrical business owned by General Electric. They were going to put in a radio department, and they wanted to know if I would be interested in taking over the management. So since my military career was dead. I cabled back that I was certainly interested. I came back and started to work for them.

California Theater

Polkinghorn:

Before we go on to that would you mind telling me a little more of your recollections of the California Theater set up? I think that would be interesting.

Stone:

Yes. We had, I think, a five hundred watt transmitter and it worked on twelve hundred meters. I know that we went on the air in 1920 and we were picked up at night as far north as Sitka, Alaska and as far south as Limas, Mexico, and once or twice in Honolulu. I remember it culminated in a concert we put on the air, in 1921 of some well-known opera. People heard us as far as Vermont. It was excellent conductor Alexander Smolens and it made quite a stir. In point of fact, I've always believed that we went on the air before KDKA, which was also began in 1920. I think we were maybe a week or two ahead. But that was never, of course, conceded by the powers that be at Westinghouse, which later was drawn into RCA.

Polkinghorn:

That program was mainly organ music at the California Theater Station.

Stone:

No, no, they had a first-class orchestra there, under the direction of a very good conductor, Herman Heller, as I remember.

Polkinghorn:

But Sunday mornings—Didn’t they broadcast a two or three hour concert?

Stone:

The organ would have been before the picture show opened. That would have been the orchestra. That’s right, that would have been on Sunday. But they had very good live orchestral music.

Polkinghorn:

Now, do you know why that came to an end?

Stone:

No, that would have been after... I left to go with Pacific States. I should know but I don’t.

Polkinghorn:

You were right at Pacific States.

Federal Telegraph Company

Stone:

I was with them until June of 1924, when I was offered the Presidency of the Federal Telegraph Company in San Francisco. By that time I was thirty.

Polkinghorn:

That was somewhat of a casual meeting that first time, wasn't it?

Stone:

It was. The chap who then controlled it was a wealthy sugar magnate in San Francisco, from quite a famous family. The Sprekles? His father Klaus Sprekles came from Germany and founded this sugar refinery in Hawaii. Their family fortune came from that. The one who bought the controlling interest in the Federal Telegraph was Rudolf Spreckles I met him casually in a bank one day when I was with a friend of mine, who had been a marine officer in China, in the Navy in the states. We were introduced the next day, Mr. Speckles asked me to lunch. By the time the lunch was over he offered me the presidency of the company, which I didn't think I should take, but he insisted I take it. My reasons for feeling that I shouldn’t take it, the chaps in there were far older than I, like Frederick Colster, V. Ford Greeves, Leonard Fuller and so on. I just didn't think they would accept me, but they did. Dr. Colster had invented the decremeter when he worked at the Bureau of Standards.

We got interested into going into the broadcast receiver business. Colster, a brilliant man, extremely brilliant, conceived the idea that it was just silly to have separate RF tuning. In other words, he came out with the first single gang condenser that tuned the three or sometimes four RF circuits ahead of the detector. I knew we didn’t have the kind of facilities to manufacture such a device. At Palo Alto, when you make a 200 kilowatt arc, you can’t handle a small receiving sets and that kind of production. You didn’t need an assembly line and so on. The local representative in San Francisco for C. Brandeis Company, who manufactured headsets in Newark, and whom I might see occasionally with Electrical Association luncheons, suggested that we might try to make a deal with the Brandeis Product Corporation in Newark to manufacture the Colster set. This we did start as many of these things did with a contract, and later developed into Mr. Speckles financial capabilities, into our acquiring the Brandeis Products Corporation and they were merged with the Federal Telegraph, being called The Colster Radio Corporation.

Polkinghorn:

I remember it well.

Broadcast Receivers and Amplifiers

Stone:

I think we made the first mass produced and the first AC-operated receiver. The current for the filament in vacuum tubes in 1925 or 1926, was done first with a separate power pack that was independent from the radio chassis. Well we combined it, and I think we were the first, and it made a good hit. We got up to making 5,000 sets a day in another plant we had to lease on Thomas Street, in Newark. We were going fine, but my engineers led us astray by suggesting that we die cast the condenser, which was a disaster because they had no temper, and if the rotors moved they stayed where they fell. It was terrible, we lost a lot of money. We dug ourselves out of that and then the engineers took me astray another year by coming out with a molded wooden cabinet and this time we licked the condenser trouble, but the supply are the molded cabinets fell flat and couldn’t make deliveries and that put us in a bad way.

Now, in the meantime, it was publicized around 1924, shortly after I became president of Federal that De Forest had won in an appellate court in Philadelphia a decision over Armstrong, which gave De Forest the controlling patent on what was then called the oscillating Audion, but which was of course the use of a vacuum tube for generating radio frequencies. De Forest had been hired by Federal back in about 1911 or 1912, long before I was with Federal. Probably by Cyril Elwell who was the chap who brought over the Poulsen Arc patents from the inventor Poulsen. The arc being a generator of undamped waves, we had no way of receiving that signal, no good way. What we used was a detector called the tikker, which was a glass ring with a groove in it, mounted at the end of a 1800 rpm motor, and in the groove on that glass pulley (it looked like a small pulley) you rested a steel piano wire, and again as in the carbon needle technique, you put a voltage on it, and when the signal came in it lowered the resistance enough to trigger a DC current into the headphones. It was not a strong signal and it needed to be amplified. Because of De Forest’s work with the audion, Elwell hired De Forest to come to work for us to invent a proper amplifier. Well, that he did, but as soon as he did, and I am not speaking critically, these were wild days, de Forest took off for the East and sold an exclusive license to AT&T. It was that invention which brought the first transcontinental conversation by telephone in 1915. It was demonstrated in 1915 at the San Francisco Fair.

Polkinghorn:

It was the first one.

Stone:

And also while Doc was working for Federal, he discovered that his amplifier would break into oscillations, which he mainly strove to eliminate, not realizing what he had discovered and he just recorded it in his notebooks, that he was getting oscillation. Now, of course, Armstrong went at it to invent an oscillator, but he missed out on the dates, and de Forest was sustained on his date of conception. Well, I realized what they would mean to Federal if I could establish that we had rights for its use. Now the trouble with the patent doctrine of shop rights is that the definition is an in-coin term. No one knows precisely what it means, whether you have rights to use it only for yourself, or you can sell your device made under shop rights and someone else gets the right to use it. The law is very poor on that and very imprecise, of course it turns in part on the nature of the man's employment. If he were not employed to invent, the inventor really retained a substantial share of the value of the patent and not his employer. In the de Forest case, however; so far as Federal was concerned, he was employed by Federal to invent and I took the position that we were entitled not only to shop rights, but to title. I figured that I was never even going to get a shop title, and I took such a position, which I maintained with AT&T. And to make a long story short, I finally got out of "the ring," as it was called, which included AT&T, Westinghouse, and GE. The two inventions that the patent covered came out in 1924: the oscillating audion and the three audio amplifier patents which Doc had developed while working for us, and that in fact had been the purpose of his employment.

So, I got the right for Federal — for the group, they called us the group — to make use of the things that these five patents could be employed for. In that respect, I had more rights than anyone in the group because Bell had given up everything except voice communication. RCA was only radio, Westinghouse and GE got other uses, including the right to make one of those patents for RCA. At the beginning RCA didn't make broadcast receiver equipment, that equipment was made by Westinghouse and GE. I spent for Federal $60,000. $25,000 of that sixty was the fee that I paid to Charles Evan Hughes to be Doc's attorney before the Supreme Court case was won. None of the ring were really affected, since AT&T had acquired the de Forest thing. I never felt that they had done that quite legitimately. And it passed the rights to others in the ring; this means that it didn't matter to any of the group whether de Forest prevailed or Armstrong because they got it either way. I was the only one that was interested in seeing de Forest win and we were lucky. It wasn't just luck, it was the fact that his date was earlier. Even before we got the final decision; we were doing development work on the assumption that we would have the right to make; use and sell it for ourselves: We were developing short wave transmitters which were necessary for trans-ocean communication. Because at the time it was discovered by the hams that you could do a lot of work with short wave for long distance.

Dealings with Clarence Mackey

Polkinghorn:

Was this before or after the ITT got into the picture?

Stone:

Before. So, I made a deal with Clarence Mackey for Federal. Clarence Mackey was the chief stockholder in the Pulsey Telegraphy Commercial Cable combination. Commercial cable was started by Clarence Mackey's father, John W. Mackey, who made his fortune in the silver mines in Nevada. And at that time, Western Union had the only transatlantic telegraph cable, and the rate (believe it or not) of two dollars and half per word. Bennet, the owner of the Paris Herald, couldn't get news across except by paying these outrageous bills to Western Union. He got together with John Mackey, and said that he intended to lay a competitive cable, which he did. Then he found that he couldn't straighten messages coming from Paris, anywhere in the United States, except by mail. So that's where the name, Postal Telegraph came from. They had to mail the cables. Then, Postal did what Western Union had done, put together bunch a little local telegraph companies and they served about 1,800 of the largest points in the United States. Postal was against Western Union which had much greater coverage. But Clarence Mackey who was not really a businessman had pretty good perception of what was coming. He saw the RCA Company and he said to himself that he had to get into radio. They knew that short-wave radio would be the answer, he couldn't buy it from the ring because it would compete with RCA. I came along at the right moment with the de Forest thing, so I made a deal with him that sold for twenty years he would buy all his shortwave or all equipment which he needed under the five de Forest patents exclusively from Federal. Part of the deal I sold him included the Federal stations on the west coast. We had not reestablished our circuit to Hawaii after World War I, we just had the domestic circuits as I remember.

Polkinghorn:

Phoenix, not to Portland.

Postal Telegraph, ITT and Mackey Radio

Stone:

Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angles with a wire line to San Diego. When I came in I put in a wire line to Oakland. I sold those stations to Mackey, and made this twenty year contract. Before we announced that I managed to get my five- party deal through under the De Forest patents. Doc won and so Mackey got into the business. Baines, who controlled ITT, had in the mean time acquired All American Cables, which was a cable outfit just in South America. Well Baines wanted radio, and he wanted an extension for All America and Postal to go to Europe. In 1931 because of my difficulties with my engineers on the cabinets, we were in bad financial condition. Spreckles made a very good deal because Baines was very generous and decent about it. Baines sold out his interests in the Colster Company which owned the Federal with a contract with Mackey and so on. ITT had acquired us in 1931 and that's when I was taken along with the merchandise and joined ITT, that was 1931.

Polkinghorn:

Now let's see. Did IT&T take Postal at that time too?

Stone:

They had acquired Postal about 1928, as I remember, it was not in 1931. Baine had Postal then, he had All America and he bought part from Mackey and Commercial Cable, (which was Postal) because of the radio equipment he was going to get through Mackey's contract with Federal. When Baines realized that he had to support the Federal because he had to buy on a "cost plus" basis, and he had to carry all the Federal overhead, he saw what I had expected Mackey to see in time that it was cheap and had to buy us out, which he did. So he had Postal before he acquired the Federal. He had Postal, he had Commercial Cable, which went to southern Europe, he all All-America which was a separate acquisition which went to South America.

Polkinghorn:

Now there are a number of these companies that you were connected with that I don't think the public really realized how they worked together and how they were organized, for instance, Mackey Radio and Telegraph.

Stone:

Well that was the name which Clarence Mackey gave to the properties on the West Coast, which he acquired from Federal. We called them the Federal Telegraph station, but when he acquired the stations he set them up under the name of Mackey Radio of California. He organized a syndicate when he went back in the east to take care of the ownership of the German station at Sayville which he had previously purchased which he wasn't able to use because the equipment was long weighed.

Polkinghorn:

Were they doing ship to shore work then?

Stone:

On the West Coast, they may have, I don't remember. Do you know Mr. Leman?

Leman:

Yeah, I thought they were.

Stone:

In what year?

Leman:

Well..

Stone:

Mr. Mackey established the ship-to-shore. This was before Baine had acquired us in 1931. And when Mackey bought the stations on the west coast from Federal in 1927, he started a similar development on the East Coast and they went into the ship-to-shore business. We made the vacuum tube equipment that they used.

All America had been acquired separately. That was a business founded by a member of the Roosevelt family. Baine bought that, that never came through Clarence Mackey. Baine bought that directly because Baine was very interested in South America. He had acquired telephone companies in Columbia, Chile, Peru, Argentina, and the southern half of Brazil and he was interested in buttressing that so that his network would go down the West Coast to South America after going through the Panama Canal. It went down the west coast of South America, over a wire line across the Andes, came up from Buenos Aries up to Brazil. Then he put that all together in one package.

Polkinghorn:

How did Gold Wireless come into this picture?

Stone:

Well that was founded by Robert Dowler. Initially on the west coast, to work his own ships, then he branched at on the East Coast. Mackey bought that many years after Baine had bought the Federal properties.

Polkinghorn:

Now there is an American Cable and Radio Corporation.

Stone:

Well that was set up as the parent for all of the ITT overseas operations in the telegraph field. That company already had an old cable across the Pacific in which Mackey had only a 25% interest, the remaining 75% was owned by the British and the Danes, the great Northern Telegraph. But that cable was a single strand, very inefficient. And in the 1940s, we agreed to liquidate that company. It went out of business because all the business was going, at the time, by radio across the Pacific.

Polkinghorn:

The Commercial Radio Company was an oldie.

Stone:

Well that was the original Mackey system, that was the one founded by Bennet and John Mackey to compete with Western Union.

History of Cables

Polkinghorn:

Now the history of this cable business, is there something that you could say there that might be of interest? We know that the original cable failed and the next one came in a few years later, about 1860, plus or minus a few years.

Stone:

They were all British-built and by a company that came to be known privately as the Submarine Signal Company. When the first telephone cables came they were engineered jointly, although Bell would never admit to it, by Bell and the British Post Office. The British Post Office has a marvelous research organization on Dulles Hill.

Polkinghorn:

I have worked with them.

Stone:

And of course Bell thought the only way you could lay a cable with repeaters was to lay it like a cable without repeaters over the fault which was ridiculous. It was the Post Office, and Standard Telephones and Cables who I helped with the cable but that was when I was active in ITT. That conceded the idea of passing the cable over the shelves but bypassing the bow with the rigid repeater and the Bell later came to accept that design because the first Bell repeater was articulated. It was built to go over the sheaves of the cable shift which was not very bright. The results were limited to thirty-six talking circuit, in their first cable. Then the British came up with a device called Talsey. They interposed an extra circuit or two during the breathing time.

Polkinghorn:

Talsey in effect, was a race with verbalized circuit. It wasn't used until Shudley used it. When it was needed for the circuit, it was switched over.

Stone:

But it gave them a conversation, it wasn't a telegraph circuit. That increased the ratio, I think about forty percent, it wasn't doubled. But anyway, now as you know with transistorized cables, they are getting a greater number of channels.

Polkinghorn:

One of the things that always fascinated me that I didn't find out until I had left the Bell System was the obsolescence of the old cables the moment the telephone cables came into use because it became more costly to maintain the old cables than to lease the live ones.

Stone:

That was a battle we had with Bell, they finally agreed to lease to us. Like the battle I had with Bell when I was running Mackey over their cable to San Juan, they were going over Telex circuits, I said, "The hell you are!" Well I shouldn't be recording this. At any rate, we kept Bell for Loft and Telex Service to [inaudible]. We tie them up to fall of Federal Telecommunications System [inaudible].

Polkinghorn:

As I recall in about 1966, there was one or two of those old cables were obsolete and weren't being used at all.

Stone:

That's right. But they weren't talking circuits.

Polkinghorn:

No, those were just the old-fashioned circuits. I presume there are more of the old circuits.

Stone:

I don't know whether any of them are still operating. Maybe Western Union has one or two, the most recent cables were in 1926 but they were loaded cables. We put some repeaters in some of our old commercial telegraph cables. We put repeaters about 200 miles out, not all the way across.

Polkinghorn:

As I recall also, Western Union had an 1890 lease for a cable which some financial organization in London built for them; they had a hundred year lease on it.

Stone:

Is that all your reel? [inaudible passage, end of tape]

Navy Career and World War II

Polkinghorn:

Well then we come to your Navy career, which was probably the most distinguished part of it. As I recall, you got into the Navy kind of off-hand, didn’t you?

Stone:

No, I had stayed in the Naval Reserve after World War I. After having made lieutenant in 1920. I got promoted to lieutenant commander in 1924 just by luck, just about the same time I became of the Federal. Then in 1939, I got commander. That’s when I was running Postal Telegraph. Then when the war came, I had become president of those two. I tried to get on active duty but the Navy wouldn’t order me up, as long as I was running the business that was engaged in the war effort because communications was extremely important. But we got our bill through Congress finally to commit the merger of Western Union and Postal, and being president of Postal I was the chap to take a hit because they didn’t need two presidents. So, the day after we made the deal I went down to Washington, to see about getting ordered up to active duty. I walked in through the old Navy department on Constitution Avenue, before it was moved later to the Pentagon, ran into an admiral friend of mine whom I hadn’t seen for many years, and he asked what I was doing down there, and I said I came down looking for a job.

So he called me into his office, and wrote something out on a pad and pencil, showed it to me and asked me what I thought of it. Well it was a memorandum from him to the Chief of Naval Operations, asking that I be ordered to active duty to go out with him as a chief of staff on a mission that he had been ordered to in French West Africa. We wanted to establish an American presence because at this time France was under the Petain administration, and nobody knew what France was going to go. By this time it had been occupied by the Germans. I said, “Do you mean that,” and he said, “Yes. Will you take it?” And I said, “Of course.” Well he showed it to Admiral King. In the meantime I had been selected for a promotion of Captain but I couldn’t make my number until I was ordered to full-time active duty. I had been doing short hitches two weeks at a time, three times in 1942 and a couple months in 1943. As soon as I got ordered to active duty, I got my four stripes, promoted to Captain. We went out to Dakar. Well administratively we came under General Eisenhower, who was the Supreme Allied Commander in Algiers. So the admiral and I had to go up and pay our respects, which we did, and while there Ike’s staff found out that I was a communicator. We were ready to invade Sicily, and after mopping up Sicily the plan was to go to the mainland. They were going to set up the Allied Control Commission, and wanted me to be on the staff or the head of that commission as soon as we landed. So they asked if I would be willing to transfer over to Allied Military Government. Not a question of leaving the Navy, just a staff job. Well, I said that was up to the Navy and my boss, Admiral Bradford. Well Bradford thought it might be a leg-up for me, I remember he said, “He might even make commodore.” Well, it was okay then, he said he would tell them, “yes.” The Navy couldn’t care less, I was just a ready reserve and that didn’t matter to them. So, I get up to Algiers, I remember I stayed with Bob Murphy who was Roosevelt’s resident minister and the Med Representative and he was the opposite number of Harold MacMillan, who was Churchill’s resident minister, all in Algiers.

So I stayed with Bob Murphy until I had to go to the staging area for the military gulf who had a little French Arabian town called Tizu Uzu, which was a 100 kilometers east of Algiers. There I spent the worst ten days of my life. The most primitive surroundings. We were seeing grown men go into a classroom praying to their old Arab children, and trying to get your feet under the desk. Well anyway the signal okayed through that I was to report to Billet France, which was the airport at Algiers to go to an unknown destination, although I didn’t know that. I get up the next day, and I am in command of two teams: a British cipher team and an American mobile radio team. The idea was to go in and set up communications for this mission that was about to be performed. Well it was a military mission to the Italian government. We stay overnight near Syracuse, in Sicily, and I slept in the tent where we had signed the armistice the week before Ike’s Chief of Staff, Peter Smith, and someone representing Marshal Badoglio. What happened was that the King and Badoglio had fled from Rome, across to the Adriatic coast and come down by destroyer to Brandesi, which is just on the heel of Italy, opposite Yugoslavia. They took up residence there. When I landed with my contingent, this army of British and American signal corps and cipher people, I was met at the dock by no less than Maxwell Taylor, who later became Chief of Staff, four star general. Then he was a brigadier and I was Navy captain. We were billeted at our hotel in Brandesi called “L’Internazionale” and the Germans had just moved out about a week before, and they were up about eighteen miles ahead of us.

The Americans had landed just before this, that week in fact, at Salerno and the British had come ashore, I guess it was Brandesi, and they moved up confronting the Germans just this side of Bari. So, at the head of the mission, there were two Americans, there was a British general, a lieutenant general commanding the mission, a British admiral, a British air commodore, General Taylor and myself, a captain. So my job was to get the land lines working, which I was able to do, and I didn’t have any particular problem in the south. The Germans having left, and of course they cut our water off, because we got water through an aqueduct, I remember that was the most uncomfortable part of the session, but we made out all right. Later, an American general was sent over to relieve the British general who was going back to his command at Gibraltar. He was Governor General at Dibbon, which is where Ike had met him when he was planning the invasion of North Africa. But the American General whom I will not mention was impossible and no good, and he got pulled out and the British General was sent back again. By this time I guess he had taken a liking to me, and with the approval of Alexander, (who was the top British military man since MacMillan and Ike and Murphy who were in Algiers of course), he said I could be his deputy and he thought I should be his deputy. This was ratified by the combined chiefs. But when we liberated Naples, they moved the Allied commission, except I and certain others in the commission were moved to Salerno. By that time we moved the King and Badoglio up, who was Pier Marshall, but he was acting as prime minister after they overthrew Mussolini. When we liberated Rome, poor McFarland got into trouble, he had to accept a change in the Italian government, they vouched for Badoglio and a very nice Labor Democrat with the name of Benoli, was the choice of the six Italian parties. So the American and British political advisors, MacMillan and Murphy, accepted it. MacFarland sent a cable to Churchill. It had to go via Algiers, it went over an American cipher, and of course they couldn’t send that to England over the American cipher, so they had to recipher it at Algiers. By that time a wearied British staff staggered home to bed, the London Times had printed a story on the change in the government and that’s where Churchill read it with no advice from his man on the job, so they bounced poor General MacFarland. Since I was the deputy and I was getting along apparently all right with Italians, they asked me to take his place. Then they had the delicate question of right. I had six two-starred generals, admirals, Air Force, and thirteen one-starred people reporting to me and I was only an equivalent to colonel in the Army, since I was captain in the Navy. So first the British recommended that I’d be promoted.

Well that just made the American Navy furious, “What the hell do the British got to do with it!” Well that died, then the American admiral came over from Algiers for the first time. He saw what the picture was, and he sent off a terrific message that I had to be made a rear admiral. This was only when I was deputy, and that didn’t get anywhere. Then finally when we liberated Rome, another message had gone forward, just a day before we liberated Rome which was just about the day that we also invaded Normandy. Roosevelt sent my name to the Senate to be promoted to rear Admiral, it died for six months because they had never made a reserve in the field into an admiral. We had one at home, he was always the top senior reserve officer. Well, Forrester came out and we were under inspection, and he said, “Look, Stone. If you resign from the Army, I’ll make you a major general.” And I said, “Mr. Secretary, don’t ask me to resign, you can send me to anywhere in the world you want to as a captain, I don’t want to put on a bronze suit.” He laughed and he said, “Well, I can see what I can do.” When he got home, he put through what we call a gun boat appointment as commodore. That means it’s good for that session of Congress. If you are not ratified by Congress in that rank, or if my pending nomination which just died in the Naval committee where it confirmed it, it means at the end of 1944 I would have busted back to captain under the law.

So come December, nothing. And I finally sent a cable to the British foreign office, explaining the situation. I pointed out that under the law I would have to revert back and the census would never be understood by the foreign military people serving under me. I had a Russian major general serving under me. I requested to be transferred by the end of January, any other assignment that they wished to give me. That apparently broke the ice, because I left my villa in Rome and a reporter for Stars and Stripes called up and he said, “Congratulations Commodore!” And I said, “For what” and he said, “Well you have just been nominated by Mr. Roosevelt to be a Rear Admiral.” I said, “Hell, he nominated me for that last June, that isn’t news.” Well he said that he was press and I was kind of rough with him which I shouldn’t have been. And he said, “Well, that’s all I know, I got the signal.” I said thanks very much, but it must be a mix up. The next day I get a cable from Colonel Baine, “Congratulations on your promotion to Rear Admiral.” By this time his son was my aide. As a commodore I was allowed one. And I said to young Baine, “Your old man is crazy. It can’t go through in twenty-four hours. The original one had never been acted on.” Well what happened was Roosevelt pulled out the original from captain to Rear admiral, put in a new one from commodore to rear admiral. This time Admiral King went before the Senate committee and you said, “You have to do this.” Before he had been unwilling to, and I should have explained it. Senator Walsh, he was head of the Naval Affairs Committee, when I was nominated the first time in June, called up Admiral King and said, “Look. This is the first time. We have been asked to promote a man during a war from reserve to rear admiral. But, Admiral King, if you feel that it should be done, well we will do it for your sake.” And King said, “Don’t do it for my sake, I won’t permit it. He had been nominated by the people in the field from whom he served, he should have the job and it is up to you to take the responsibility, which they never did.” So this time, King went before the committee and said it had to be done and that’s how I came to be a rear admiral.

Well, the job in Italy was extremely interesting. We had to carry out orders through the commission, and I had a command of about two thousand, including American and British enlisted men. And I had French and Russians serving under me, although we didn’t have any French and Russians on the Commission, under the four power deal, they were entitled to that representation on the commission. Well we had the job feeding the population with restoring the bombed-out industry, getting the supplies in like coal, and fertilizer. Italy had no fertilizer since the war began, they always got it from North Africa, from the French. I had the political negotiation connection within the boundaries, and we had this problem of Trieste, which was totally unnecessary because the British 8th Army had swung out over the northern end of the Adriatic and were ready to take Trieste. Then of course our State Department and the British Foreign Office sent signals saying “Don’t be unkind to Tito.” So we never took it and it was under military government.

After we would return all of the rest of the country to the Italian government. But this illustrates a point that I made in one of these stories: modern communications have ruined war. In the old days, you only went to war when the political guys like the state department, or the foreign office are unable to preserve a viable peace and when the diplomats failed. The countries went to war. But with modern communications, today the diplomats never relinquish, thus they get attached to the joint chiefs of their own country. In the case of the combined chief, which were the American and military men in Washington, we had the British Foreign Office and the American State Department. You called a guy on the field, a Commander and Chief, but in fact he can’t go and urinate without the approval from the Commander and Chiefs. Well let me give you a parallel. In the days of Napoleon, word would come from the British Admiralty, that there was a French fleet off the British West Indies. Well, they called Nelson in, and he takes a group of ships out there, to search and destroy. Once Nelson sets sail, there wasn’t a blessed thing the admiralty or the politicians could do about it and that’s how you make great military leaders. They had to be statesmen, as well as warriors. It’s all gone now.

Now the buggers can’t keep the peace and they get right in to run the war, and if you could imagine what MacArthur was up against on the Korean deal, it wasn’t just this country, he was working for the U.N. And his contact with the U.N. was not the joint chiefs of staff, but the state department. So, you see the diplomats today never relinquish. Now a guy like Kissinger that isn’t bad, but there aren’t many like Kissinger.

Polkinghorn:

I see, you stayed over there until 1947, as I recall.

Postwar Service with ITT in Africa and Europe

Stone:

That’s right, and then I came back first to ITT, I was on military leave from ITT. And ITT was as most big companies were wonderful in the way they handled with people who went in and called up. They sent me out as a representative in the Mideast and I was in Cairo, as a vice-president of ITT. We had an office of Standard Telephones and Cables there, but our French company did a lot of business with Turkey and they always came through on their way. I was there from June of 1947 until January of 1948. They sent out another chap to relieve me in Cairo and bring me home to where they had this complex here, the Federal. At that time it was called Federal Telephone and Radio Corporation and it was the same outfit that I had moved with to the east you see. Then Baine moved east after me to ITT. Well I ran that until the man that made it put in as head of American Cable and Radio died General Harrison then came from Bell as president. They asked me to come back into communications. Then I ran the American Cable and Radio, which was comprised of Mackey of the Commercial cable, and the All-America Cables. Postal at this time had been sold to Western Union, so we didn’t have any domestic operations. And that continued from 1949 until 1958. Do you have that curriculum vitae there?

Polkinghorn:

No you have it.

Stone:

I ran AC&R subsidiaries until 1958. Then Jenine came in 1959 and they made a grouping of all our domestic activities for defense and several for commercial. I was given the defense group then I had my office right here in the building behind us until 1961 when I was sent over to become president of ITT Europe: from 1961 until the end of 1964. The European thing was fascinating and I enjoyed it very much. First of all I knew all the managing directors and their predecessors for years and I had about 200,000 under me. I doubled the business in four years and it has been doubled again. I think they are over 2 billion now in Europe. I took it from 378 to just about double, over 700 million. It involved relationships with foreign governments, all the companies today are doing extremely well and so it was nice an end for my career. In 1965, I got fleeted out to vice chairman and the chap who had been my second to vice president became president. He is now president of ITT to operate. He was relieved by a chap whose name is Lester who in turn had been brought to the office of president in New York. I was the director of ITT for twenty years, my service there lasted forty-five years in ITT, including my military.

Honors

Polkinghorn:

So you got some awards too, that you ought to mention I think?

Stone:

Well do you think so. Again I was very lucky. I got the U.S. Army Distinguished Service medal first, and then I got the U.S. Navy Distinguished Service medal. I was made Commander of the British empire and then in 1946 I was made Knight Commander. If I were British that would make me a “Sir” and this I received by the King at Buckingham Palace. Then from the Italians the Knight Grand Cross of San Maurice and Saint Lazarus, that is one of those what we called a “sash job” because they are across the chest. I got the same Knight Grand at San Marino, that is an Italian republic which is the oldest in the world even for the American one. It’s an enclave on the Adriatic near Rimini. Then I was made grand officer of the crown of Italy for the second time. The first time I got it was for handling all the communications for Balbo, this was when I was with ITT and Mackey Radio when he flew in 1933, from Italy to Chicago the Reskjivik in Iceland, and then came from New York. I handled all his communications, that is for the USN and we worked on our short wave Mackey Radio site at Bell Laboratories. We worked his ships, and his airplanes on the water at Orbitello, which is north of Rome on the Mediterranean Sea, so we had marvelous communication. But when Mussolini declared war on the U.S. I sent the medal to the Navy and told them to turn it in. I wasn’t going to hold this Italian decoration. Typical Navy foul up, they say, “We will keep it for you until the end of the war.” And after the war to my great astonishment, I got it back again. They had just fouled it up. I didn’t want that one, the first one that I got from the Italians was the second one from the King of the same decoration after I was in Italy. I got the Order of Merit with the first class from the Knights of Malta, that’s a sovereign order. They have ambassadors and Field Marshall Alexander got the same decoration. Then after the war I was made commander first class, that’s equivalent to grand officer. I was also made commander of order of Leopold Belgian, and an officer of the French Legion of Honor.

Polkinghorn:

Well that is quite a story, I think that will make a nice addition to our collection of the IEEE.

Stone:

You can be sure that I am very happy to do it and I sometimes wonder whether I should send any of my papers over there.