Archive for Sunday, September 11, 2011

100 years ago: Editorial argues for telephone monopoly

September 11, 2011


From the Lawrence Daily Journal-World for Sept. 11, 1911:

  • "The vacation is over and another summer is gone. Monday the school bell calls the kiddies from their play, and back to the school house they come for nine long months. All vacation thoughts must vanish at the call and the quest of knowledge take their place."
  • "The two telephone companies in Kansas City are trying to consolidate and there is a roar going up. The companies ought to consolidate. There ought to be but one telephone company. There can be two water companies, a flock of light companies but when it comes to telephone companies it means cutting off a part of the people from another part. The telephone is the natural monopoly of the world. The thing to do is to have only one company and regulate it by the state public utilities law. If the law is not strong enough now it will be made so after the next legislature."
  • "Lightning struck the home of S. S. Weatherby, 725 Mississippi street, last night shortly before 10 o'clock. About an hour later fire was discovered in the small tower where the lightning had struck. The department was called and the blaze extinguished by the use of chemicals. It is estimated that the damage was about $50."


Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 1 month ago

"the blaze (was) extinguished by the use of chemicals."

I really have to wonder: What kind of chemicals did they use, and were there any long lasting health effects?

Actually they probably were very dangerous. The proof of that is that everyone that was exposed to them is dead today.

Sarah St. John 6 years, 1 month ago

LOL! Better living through chemicals.

First time I'd seen a 100 Years Ago fire where water was not the main thing the firefighters used.

Now on to the telephone thing. I didn't realize until last year that Lawrence was served by two telephone companies in the 1910s. One was the "Bell" company, and one was the "Home" company. Many advertisements listed two different phone numbers (both short ones, in those days!) or they would just say something like, "531 Both Phones," meaning that they'd managed to get both companies to give them the same number. I haven't yet found anything online about "Home," this early Bell competitor, which may have truly been "a name writ in water," never to be heard of again. I wonder if you could only reach a Home number from another Home phone, and same for Bell. What a pain that would have been.

And now we've gone full circle, through consolidation and then breakup of the phone monopoly, and now on to cell phones! An interesting ride since Mr. Bell's invention. By the way, you should read up on Bell's reluctant exhibition of his new invention at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876. He didn't want to go, but his fiancee insisted. :-)

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 1 month ago

"Mr. Watson -- come here -- I want to see you." - Alexander Graham Bellm March 10, 1876 (The first words spoken by telephone!)

This is the proof that running skills are valuable:

In the 1870s, two inventors Elisha Gray and Alexander Graham Bell both independently designed devices that could transmit speech electrically (the telephone).

Both men rushed their respective designs to the patent office within hours of each other, Alexander Graham Bell patented his telephone first. Elisha Gray and Alexander Graham Bell entered into a famous legal battle over the invention of the telephone, which Bell won.

As an aside, how many know who invented the electric light bulb?

It was Thomas Edison in 1879, wasn't it? That's what many people think and were taught in school. Like most stories, however, there is a lot more behind the creation of this important and ubiquitous object than just Mr. Edison.

The story of the lightbulb really starts almost seventy years earlier. In 1806 Humphrey Davy, an Englishman, demonstrated a powerful electric lamp to the Royal Society. Davy's lamp produced its illumination by creating a blinding electric spark between two charcoal rods. This device, known as an "arc lamp," was impractical for most uses. The light, similar to that of a welding torch, was simply too bright to be used in residences and most businesses.

Some 19th century inventors wanted to find a way to "subdivide" the light from Davy's arc lamp so that it could be used in the home and office.This method of generating light was known as "incandescence."

In 1841 a British inventor named Frederick DeMoleyns patented a bulb using just this technique in combination with burners made of platinum and carbon. An American named J. W. Starr also received a patent in 1845 for a bulb using vacuum in conjunction with a carbon burner. Many others, including an English chemist named Joseph Swan, improved and patented versions of bulbs using a vacuum with burners of various materials and shapes. None, however, proved practical for everyday use.

It was into this environment that the brash, young, inventor Thomas Alva Edison entered the race to make-a-better-bulb in 1878.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 1 month ago

I forgot to credit: All of the above was clips from the following links!

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 1 month ago

"The Home Telephone Company was incorporated in 1902, and Adams was at least still an officer of the company five years later in 1915. Adam’s success, however, led to his move to Kansas City to oversee a larger telephone conglomeration in 1912. Further success led to Adams sharing his time between Kansas City and New York City."

Sarah! You didn't google this: "Home telephone company" Kansas City

That will just about fill the first page of Google results with references to "The Home Telephone Company"!

Sarah St. John 6 years, 1 month ago

D'oh! I didn't think of adding "Kansas City" to the search. Good call! (call... get it?... oh I've got a million of 'em....)

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 1 month ago


Phrase search helps a lot, too! I had been using Google for a while before I realized that was supported.

Now I use it when I'm looking for one of my postings here that I've made in the past. Sometimes I want to repeat them, repeat parts of them, or link to them.

I've used it a few times, looking for other things. And then, I was totally stunned for years at the fact that apparently I'm the only person in the world who has ever been notified that there was a package across the street for me.

At least, I'm the only one that Google can find.

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