Thursday, March 05, 2009

The Radio Act of 1912

The Titanic tragedy of April 1912 showed to the public the usefulness of wireless communications. By using the wireless system over 700 passengers were saved, but the press agued that more could have been saved if there was a stronger wireless regulation in effect. The press would argue that there was a lack of standards regarding the proper use of this wireless technology on ships in particular, but also there needed to be regulation to protect the citizens in general.

In order to rectify the problems that the press was talking about Senator Smith introduced The Radio Act Bill of 1912. This bill required that all maritime companies that owned ocean ships needed to enhance the security of its passengers by providing coverage by a wireless duty officer 24 hours a day. This would grantee that all ships could contact one another in case of any disaster that they might encounter eliminating another Titanic tragedy. In addition the law proposed that the each government agency would be given a specific wavelength, power level and operational hours to counter the Marconi Company’s monopoly of the spectrum.

As soon as the Titanic went down, radio regulation moved up on the public agenda. Press reports noted that if one of two nearby ships had its wireless working and its operator on duty (instead of its engines off and its operator asleep), it could have saved all the lives that were lost

The feeling at that time was that long wavelengths of 250 meters and over provided the best means for communications. Amateurs were therefore given those wave lengths of 200 meters and below, what we know and call today the AM band. Senator Smith felt that over time the amateurs would loose interest and funding and all the wavelengths would revert to the government. The Radio Act of 1912 reduced the amateur stations from 10,000 to just fewer than 1,200 by the end of 1912.


At 4:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...



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