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Full text of "Erv Rasmussen Interviews with Douglas Perham (Abstract)"

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July, 1963, at the New Almaden Museum, New Almaden 

Tape 2, Side 1 


1 De Forest Case #2 

Item 127 . De Forest DIO receiver. Leatherette case. 

Loop is missing. 

Item 129 . Miscellaneous honeycomb coils. Can identify 
them as original de Forest coils by black fibre, diamond 
shaped piercings. Holmstrup wound first coils. 

Item 130 . Crystal detector. Vertical, single slide 
inning coil made by de Forest himself in Palo Alto. 

item 133 . De Forest variable condenser. 

Item 134 . Honej^comb coil holders. Copied by Murdock, 
Rernler, etc. 

Item 136 . Grebe synchrophase receiver. Al Grebe head- 
quarters in Long Island. Still very sensitive receiver. 
Grebe Co. went broke during early 30* s. . .transition from 
battery to ac. 

Item 137 - RCA model 20 receiver. Built in mid 20* s. 

Item 138 . Brass speaker case. Bronze housing. Popular 
since it looked like a microphone. 

Item 139 . RCA super heterodyne receiver. Called a 
portable — weighed 90 lbs. 

Item 143 . Bell Telephone 416 B tubes, Chinese copy of 
de Forest's tube, except for base. Used for cross-country 
relays . 

85 Poulsen and Magnavox Cases 

Item 159 . Federal receiving variometer. Large because 
had to use large wire. Later used " liedsendrot German 
wire mesh. 

Item 160. Logwood tikker. 

Abstract, Tape 2, Side 1 — 2 










Item 162. Tikker parts . Original Poulsen tikker was 
designed by Petersen in Denmark. Logwood improved it. 

Logwood ; Came to California from east about 1900. 1902 — 

demonstrated McCarty's wireless telephone between Cyclers' 
Rest and Cliff House, San Francisco. After McCarty died, 
Elwell aired hira as de Forest’s assistant, De Forest 
took Logwood with him when he left Federal. Logwood given 
honorary title of Doctor. 

Item 163. Mechanical amplifier . Description of parts and 
operation. Not too satisfactory. 

De Forest's amplifier . Logwood took three P9 detectors 
(each with 1 de Forest tube) and hooked these together with 
telephone transformers. De Forest and Van Etten, also. 
Discovered the set-up would oscillate. De Forest prior to 
Armstrong in this. (Berliner and Edison invented the micro- 
phone at the same time.) 

Item 165. Federal Relay key . Invented by Schultz of 

Federal in Palo Alto. 

Item 166. 3 arc units . Discussion of arc designed for 

therapeutic treatment. First arc unit brought from Denmark 
to Palo Alto in 1909. Cost $50.00. 100 watts. Elwell 

had Perham design and build a larger one — 200 watts. 

Federal Telegraph Co. Story 


J anuary , 1908. News Clipping . Incorporation of/Wireless 
’Telegraphy and l‘e le phony Company in Arizona. Beach Thomp- 
son, W. W. Hopkins, George A. Pope, Howard P, Veider (?) 
of San Francisco. 

Letter from Beach Thompson to H. P. Veider, April 18, 1913. 
Thompson in Washington, D. C. talking with ambassadors of 
South and Central America about establishing communications 
systems. Also Holland and Japan and China. Carlton, Vice- 
President of Western Union, sa ys they will act as collecting 
and disbursing agents in the U. S. Thompson also talked 
I 2 hours with Secretary of the Navy and his assistant, Mr. 

Two 1000 kw arcs built by Federal Telegraph in Palo Alto for 
the Japanese government. When the war was over, Japanese 
were unable to pay for them. One arc was given to Stanford 






Abstract, Tape 2, Side 1 — 3 

University, where it was cut up with acetylene torch; the 
other given by Dr. Puller to the University of California 
at Berkeley. Perham re-wound the coils to Dr. Lawrence’s 
specifications, and the arc was used in the first cyclotron. 

Continuation of letter from Thompson, covering various 
plans with English, Marconi, our government. Reports on 
various tests made with federal equipment. 

Le tter from communications officer at Mare Island, April 
l6,~1913, saying he could see no value to the U .£>. Navy 
of radio telephone. 

Advertisement of V . f ' . Hutton Co., 1908. Announces the 
first brokerage house in the world to use a wireless 
circuit .. .the Poulsen system. 

r - ews clipping , January 28, 1908. lankee Doodle sung by 
wireless from Stockton to San Francisco. 

News clippin gs. 1908. El Paso received messages from 
San Francisco, breaking overland record. Poulsen system 
given severe test: 2 messages from Stockton and Sacramento 

received simultaneously. 

Two articles mentioned : March 30, 1915, paper delivered 

by Per ham to Electric Club of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; article 
by Dr. Lee de Forest from Electrical Review and Western 
Electrician , Vol 56, No. 8, February 20, 1915. 


Picture of Poulsen as a young man, 1909, in front of Teleg- 
raphone Factory in Copenhagen, Denmark. Also shows Mrs. 
Elwell, Petersen. 

Article by C. F. Elwell, read before the S. F. section of 
Institute of Electrical Engineers on March 25, 1910. Early 
transmission effected by oscillations generated by means 
of powerful sparks from condensers charged by means of large 
inductance coils in the primary circuit of which a suitable 
telegraph key was inserted. Paper traces improvements. 
Branley coherer, magnetic electrolytic detectors. Poulsen 
arc generates undamped weaves. Elihu Thompson and Dudell. 
Undamped waves from 2000 up to 1 million per second. 30 
kw arc — improved selectivity, duplex working, greater range, 
better daylight working, great increase in speed. Had to 
develop new type detector — the tikker. Description of arc 
generator parts and operation and also of Poulsen tikker. 

Abstract, Tape 2, Side 1 — 4 







Essentials of wireless telephony system. Characteristics 
of Poulsen system. Good, clear speech over 180 miles ih 
Denmark, 85 miles in California. Wireless telegraph: 180 

miles, 300 words per minute 5 600 miles, 150 words per minute. 

Samples of tape made by Poulsen Telegraph during tests made 
between Stockt on and Sacramento. Stockton and Sacramento 
stations installed by Perham about 1908. 

Item 178 . 23 miscellaneous documents and photos of Federal 

Telegraph Company. 

Item 179. 5 kw loading coil — Federal . 

Item 180. 5 Federal transmitting tubes . 

Charles Litton Story 

Stanford graduate — in 3 years. Experimental lab in Redwood 
City. *.vid amateur. Followed work of de Forest. Made his 
own tubes, later made tubes for Federal Telegraph. De- 
veloped glass lathe and the vertical sealer. "Housekeeper” 
seal between glass and metal. During war built both glass- 
mahing machinery and tubes. After war, sold tube-making 
business, retained tool making business. Went to Grass 
Valley where now has lab, factory, home. Litton Industries 
formed for tube manufacturing. 

Magnavox Story 

Peter Jensen, brought from Poulsen Company in Denmark, 

1909, by Elwell, to establish stations at Stockton and Sac- 
ramento. Experimented in Federal lab at night with E. L. 

Pndhara on a speaker. Left Federal and went to Santa Rosa, where 
Jensen and Pridham formed Magnavox Co. Developed the moving 
coil loudspeaker. In raid twenties put out a series of 
vacuum tubes to work around other patents. Jensen died 
October 25, 1961, age 75. January, 1962 Radio Electronics 
story on Jensen. Called world's first disk jockeyi played 
records in early 1900* s for men at sea. After working with 
Pridham, they both came to Oakland, where Jensen had a 
loudspeaker factory and founded Jensen Industries. 

Francis P. Farquhar described by Perham. The first account- 
ant hired by Federal Telegraph Co. With them from September 
1911 to May, 1912. Later with his his own firm in ban 
Francisco. Compiled a monograph on the Federal Telegraph 
J-ompany, dated November 15, 19J6 nog jnJejhi^jrchivfg; 
Consists of a preface by Farqu 


Abstract , Tape 2, Side 1—5 






of these are read on the tape by Perham. The fourth, miss- 
ing at the moment, deals with Marconi. The three articles 
are as follows: 

1) Circular issued by Poulsen Wireless Corporation, 1004 
Merchants Exchange Building, February 15, 1911. Describes 
organization of the company, trustees, board of directors, 
stock, capitalization, state of the company's stations and 
patent rights. States that Valdemar Poulsen is now send- 
ing 245 words a minute over 900 miles of land. The Poulsen 
Wireless Corporation able to send messages 750 miles over 
land or water, day or night. Poulsen in Denmark now hears 
the human voice clearly over 420 miles. The Poulsen Wire- 
less Corporation in Palo Alto has sent 300 words a minute 
from Ban Francisco to Stockton. Conversations held between 
these points and also Sacramento by wireless telephone. 
Company plans on 18 stations in near future. Estimates 
future earnings at 82,400,000 per annum with SI, 250, 000 
net pro tit. 

2) History of Poulsen Wireless Corporation. (Author un- 

known, but published by tne Corporation.) 1909-1912. Tells 
of Elwell securing the patents of Poulsen and Petersen about 
1909. Poulsen Wireless Telegraph and Telephone Company's 
first oificerss Elwell, Prof. C. D. Marks of' Stanford, R.W. 
Barrett, J. G. Robesraith, Valdemar Poulsen, Organized on 
January or February of 1910. $5 million capitalization, 

inadequate financial support. Reorganized as Poulsen Wire- 
less Corporation by Beach Thompson and others. Details of 
the transaction. Wireless Development Corporation the oper- 
ating company, Poulsen Wireless the holding company. Wire- 
less Development Co. was later changed to Federal Telegraph 
Co. 1911-1912: expansion of stations to compete with 
Western Union and Postal Telegraph. De Forest hired to do 
research. Also Christiansen, a Dane, did research on a 
rapid sending device. 1912 — Beach Thompson negotiations 
with Publishers Press Co. for stations in all large cities 
west of the Mississippi. Elwell severed his connection 
with company in latter half of 1912. 


3) Circular issued by Poulsen Wireless/and Federal Telegraph 

and Telephone Company, 1911. Describes stock, patent rights, 
Hopkins, Meyer, Thompson, trustees. Federal Telegraph Co., 
strictly an operating company, can turn out the complete 
equipment for a station in 5 days. Features of the Poulsen 
or Federal system: lu0-300 words per minute ; duplex sending 

and receiving; selectability ; privacy; non-interference; 
reliability; speed; flexibility; capacity. Lists directors, 
including Spreckles. 

Article "Telegraphy, Waves without Wires," written by H. P. 
Veider in the P.G. & E. Co. magazine, 1912. Compares Poulsen 
system with spark systems. Discusses damped and undamped 
waves. Mentions conversations between San Francisco and 
Stockton (100 miles apart) were heard in Los Angeles, almost 
500 miles away. Possibilities of the Poulsen arc generator 

Abstract , Tape 2, Side 1 — 6 


being used by medical profession in applying heat or anti- 
septics internally. Poulsen visited doctors in Vienna. 
(This article is continued on Tape 2, Side 2.) 

End of Tape 2, Side 1