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Great Moments in Communication: Wired Wireless and Bare Wire

Sixty-five years ago this June, Fort Monmouth Building 283 was dedicated as “Squier Signal Laboratory” by the War Department.  The building was named to commemorate MG George Squier, Chief Signal Officer from 1917 to 1923.  Fifty-five years ago this month, July 1955, is the 55th anniversary of the rededication of “Squier Signal Laboratory” as Squier Hall.

 MG Squier was not only the Chief Signal Officer, he was also an inventor.  One of his most famous inventions was the “Wired Wireless” system for telegraphs.  This invention is the basis for the modern carrier systems that we use for wired communications.  The idea was so revolutionary when first developed that articles describing it were published in the New York Times.

 According to the first article published February 16, 1912, Squier demonstrated the capability of this “Wired Wireless” system in an experiment using transmission lines running from New York City to Washington D.C.  In this demonstration Squier showed that it was possible to transmit telegraph messages over the wire as vibrations, rather than using the wire itself to transmit the vibrations.  The claim was made, according to the NYT, that ten or more conversations could be carried by a wire using this system, by using varying the tuning for each conversation to a specific number of vibrations.  The NYT headlined the invention as a gift to the Nation.

Headline for the February 16, 1912 article.

 Then on April 28, 1920, the NYT carried another article that describes the use of bare wire lain in the water of the Potomac to establish communications the three-quarter mile distance between Fort Washington, MD, and Fort Hunt, VA.  The bare wire is described as a “bare phosphor-bronze” wire.  The article describes a similar system used at Camp Alfred Vail (now Fort Monmouth) by burying bare wire underground.  Squier, this article states, held hope for the use of bare wire communications in transoceanic cables using very high frequencies.

The full text of the article from April 28, 1920.

 The 1920 article states that the strategic need for bare wire communication became clear during World War I, with the realization that production rates of insulated wire were only about 8,000 miles a month, and that the U.S Army alone required about 40,000 miles a month.

Notes: Images reproduced from New York Times historic newspaper archive website.  This blog was composed by Floyd Hertweck, Staff Historian, and posted by Chrissie Reilly, Staff Historian.

Posted in Squier's Stories.

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  1. Tony says

    ‘wired wireless’ haha that’s a double negative I’m sure..Although I’m sure even though 10 concurrent communications are, in theory possible- it would not be particularly easy to implement without errors all over the place.

    Bare wire systems are still in use today for a variety of applications, to the best of my knowledge anyway

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    Great Moments in Communication: Wired Wireless and Bare Wire