It Seemed to Them:
Early QST Editorials

1917 August

qst logo cover

<< 1917 Jul | Index | 1917 Sep >>

This "glorious mix-up" we now know as World War I, poses some real threats for ARRL. We need your backing! Help us sell magazines.

LEST WE FORGET

In this great and glorious mix-up which is going on right now, it is very easy to forget QST and our A. R. R. L. We are not complaining, because the tide has turned and is coming in again; but, it looks as though it was new material that was coming along to a great extent. This is all very fine and encouraging, but we want to see the old material stay in the game also. We were too good friends to let things slide. Whether you are in the Navy or the Army, or whether you have stayed at home because of flat feet or other physical shortcomings, don't forgot that we are still plugging along here at Headquarters trying to keep QST going and the A. R. R. L. intact. We need backing up and this backing up is not a hard thing to give us. It consists of renewing your subscription or putting in a good word here and there and inducing others to renew their subscription, and above all, doing and saying those little things which will help QST at the news-stands or the electrical supply stores where the fellows usually go for their electrical magazines. The latter point is especially useful to us at this end, because the news-stands do not all know QST. They need to be told and we all need to tell people to go to the news­stands and insist upon being supplied with QST. So we say, don't forget us, fellows, but push little here and a little there whenever you get a chance.

QST has not discovered the right term for "the ladies". Not "Old Woman" surely! Eventually, we will know the fairer Amateurs as YL's, but not yet.

Why were they thinking that the ladies were going to turn out in any numbers?

THE LADIES ARE COMING

When amateur wireless opens up again in these United States of America, things are going to be different. There will be several hundred of the fair sex scattered around among us. This means that we shall have to introduce several changes. We shall have to be careful where we use OM. What will take its place is not yet apparent. It will not be OW, from what we have heard from various young ladies. They do not take kindly to being referred to semi-affectionately as Old Woman. Some of them will let Old Lady pass, although there are others who object even to this. We would not venture to make a suggestion'in such a delicate matter, but just the same, we fully expect to hear DG. This will sound pretty chummy, but in wireless where you cannot see the other person, and where you never expect that you will see them, and where formalities are more of a dead letter than in anything else we know of, it might be that calling an unknown young lady dear girl, might be taken all right.

Language will have to be improved a little because, "keep out, you big Ham," will not be exactly polite when the ladies are around. We never have had much profanity in the air, so this will go as it is, but we fully expect to see a general uplift throughout the fraternity when the ladies join us. Here's to them, and it gives us great pleasure to extend the glad hand of fellowship when the happy day comes, and we all re-open.

QST will help you find a place in the Naval Reserve.

GOING-GOING—SOON BE GONE

If any of you fellows who have not yet enrolled, in the U. S. NAVAL RESERVE RADIO have any lingering thoughts about going in, you should hurry up and get started. There are signs which indicate that the great opportunity will not be held open forever. Like every other good thing, this one must be grabbed while it passes. Once it gets by, you can never yet another chance.
At this writing, the Navy will still accept good amateurs. We heard rumors to the contrary, but we investigated and found them wrong. Any of you fellows who want the best training in electrical engineering that is available in the country, and also want a chance to see the world and do your bit for your country, and on top of this, get good pay for doing it, send in your names to us or your proper enrolling office. If you are in doubt as to the proper enrolling office for you to apply, write to us. We are fixed up to help you connect up properly and promptly. This is part of our "bit." But above all things, act promptly. It really is a splendid opportunity and you ought not throw it away.

If you have passed your seventeenth birthday, and can secure your parents' written consent, you are all right. Over eighteen, you do not need your parents' written consent, although it is well to have their moral consent and backing. Tear out the blank printed in last month's QST, fill it in and mail it to us. We will do the rest for you if you want us to.

We don't know what The Old Man was smoking this month, but here is television and time transport.

We don't know if TOM could get all his work published in today's QST, but he was the Boss in the day!

A Rotten Dream

By The Old Man

Well, Sir, it's getting me, too. I have suspected for some time that closing up amateurs was having an effect upon their think tanks. Now I know it. I am going bughouse myself. Listen to what went through my disordered intellect last night.

I had been to a meeting of the Radio Club and Radical and Final had edified us with a ten round go without gloves on the subject of external capacity effects and when I got home I repeated the performance on a section of mince pie. Maybe this had something to do with it, but anyway, I dreamed a rotten one. I will put it up to the fraternity as a record. If any one can beat it, I will eat my oscillation transformer.

I dreamed I had some kind of an old he condenser of about one man's size micro­farad capacity. I thought I had built it in the bath tub and had filled the latter with black oil. It was connected to something brand new in the way of a gap, consisting of two 24 inch diameter silver disks polished so as to act as mirrors. A big variable inductance gave control over the frequency of oscillation. An "external capacity effect" seemed to be hooked in somewhere and this external capacity business had a terminal which bore the terrible title of Influence Terminal. Some hook up, what?

Well, my wife and I seemed to be monkeying with this outfit and it somehow seemed to be something I had been struggling with for years. We were getting it ready for its first test, and if it worked it was to shatter all human standards at one fell wallop and make me famous and rich enough to have a separate pair of suspenders on every pair of pants I owned.

The idea was that resonance could somehow be made to hetrodyne, or give beat effects, like the undamped stuff. When you caught hold of the mysterious "influence terminal" your personal magnetism set up an ether strain and impressed itself' on the capacity and this so effected the discharge across the mirror gap that a picture of you and your surroundings appeared on the polished surfaces. (Can you beat it?)

I realize how nutty all this sounds, but it seemed perfectly fair and square at the time, and it is nothing to what is coming. Believe me, friends, this was a real one.

When we had made things tidy around the thing and had traced each wire to make sure it was hooked up right and would not burst up in a blaze of fire when we threw the switch, I took hold of the influence terminal with the external capacity ding-bob on the end of it, and told the old lady to: start her up. I was to test it out with my own picture, which I knew pretty well. There was a buzzing around noise and suddenly a flash of fire at the mirrors and, Eureka! The picture appeared. There I was apparently looking into a regular mirror. The surroundings were true to life and I noticed there was no distortion of foreshortening, and no blur. Everything was fine and the "grand and glorious feeling" of things coming my way was recognized.

The inductance was set for resonance, during this first test and consequently, the picture showed present time. It must have been pretty good resonance because it was a dead heat every time between my motions and the motions of the image in the mirror. Then we decided to take out some of the inductance and speed up the frequency and do the advance business, and take a look into the future. I took out a good chunk of inductance while I was at it, so as to get well ahead into the not-yet. Just as I had fixed it, the phone rang and I answered.

It was a young lawyer friend of mine who was connected with the District Attorney's office in our town. He wanted to ask me about some wireless dope he needed for the District Attorney. This was O. K., beaause I had helped him out before. While I was talking to him I glanced over my shoulder to make sure nothing was going wrong with the machine. My eye caught the mirrors and there I saw a picture that started to bring the hair up on the back of my neck. There was Jim, my lawyer friend, in the mirrors, much older, creeping cautiously down a road, with a pistol in his hand, looking carefully on all sides. Waiting for him behind a wall were a couple of thugs also with guns. There was going to be something doing in a minute, and somebody was going to get hurt, most likely. I didn't want it to be Jim. It was like a movie, except that it was the real dope and as such it got my goat. (I imagine an undigested hunk of mince pie was putting up a gallant fight about that time).

Just as things reached the pass where you squint your eyes and brace yourself for the shock, Jim said good-bye, hung up the phone, and the picture vanished.

I was some shook, what between the picture outside and the mince pie inside, and I dreamed I sank back on the chair to think matters over.

Now friends, as I said before, if any of you can beat this for a dream, the cigars are on me. I shall tell you the whole thing dead straight, just as it happened. I shall probably have to consult a horse doctor when I finish and take a treatment for shattered nerves, and a disordered stomach.

As I sat there all shot to pieces, I dreamed I began to analyze the various possibilities of my machine. Just listen to the line of dope that floated through my nutty brain.

It seemed the machine was a howling success. It would make me everlastingly famous. It possessed the power to examine with scientific accuracy and microscopic fidelity the Past, Present and Future of any one. It was sensitive enough to respond to the feeble influence that came in over a telephone wire and all I had to do was to call the victim on the telephone, adjust my inductance to lag behind resonance and I could examine every action of their past. By addition of inductance, thus causing the oscillation frequency to advance ahead of present time, I could lay bare their future with equal certainty and accuracy. As an assistant to a detective agency, my machine would be a wonder. It would command humanity. No guilty action of the past would escape detection and every coming guilty action of the future would be foretold. It supplied an unerring recording finger which would point to what had gone before ahd likewise a prophetic finger which would show up the future equally positively. (Gosh a'mighty, think of the consequences if such a darned business should some day be built!)

Well, this sort of stuff went floating by in clots when the phone rang again. I started the machine before answering, so as to take a "once over" of whoever it might be. It was Final Authority. Well, thinks I, we will proceed to get your number, young fellow. The inductance was set for advance and as he talked, I glanced at the mirrors. There he was. He was grey and "hungry looking. Spectacles had taken the place of eye glasses. He was writing — copying something out of a book. An author, by Heck! A writer of scientific slush for some technical journal. Earning fifteen a week on the average. A name well known to thousands of readers, and a bank account which has never been beyond three figures. Poor Final! There he was. A literary hack. Wouldn't you have known it? Knows down to a hair the formula for calculating to an error of less than one-tenth of one per cent the electrical capacity of an ice cream freezer, but can't get a job to save his life.

He finished and I hung up. I was disheartened. This looking into the future was a proposition likely to have a kick­back in it. After composing myself I decided to have a crack at our other champion, the irascible Radical. He would certainly have a future with some bite in it. My wife called him and gave him a line of bull about something or other while I watched the mirrors. When he hooked in the spark sputtered and spit but finally settled down into a fine clear picture. There he was. He was stepping out of a big limousine and walking briskly into an office. Over the door I saw a sign. It read: "Radical, Warty & Co." For the love of Mike! This great, big plant was Radical's? And his partner, the fellow with the wart on his nose, and who at club meeting's grave every evidence of not being mentally capable of understanding the function of an oscillation transformer! Great Heavens! The picture changed. Radical was seated in the office with "President" on the door. And, by Heck, there was Warty in the one with "Treasurer." The wart was still there, but not so noticeable, and he looked just as sleepy as he used to at Club meetings. But he evidently knew how to operate financial accounts even if he didn't a wireless »et, and this skill had been made good use of by the belligerent gentleman with the Radical ideas about ground leads, whether it was accompanied by warts and ignorance regarding oscillation transformers or not.

When Radical hung up, my wife and I gasped. It was probably the mince pie calling for water, but it went with me as a good manifestation of emotion. This was getting fierce. Here we were in our little house calling up the unknown forces of nature in a way that broke all precedents. It scared me. I knew there would be a terrible kick back sooner or later. These things always end that way. They look as though they would get you by, but all of a sudden you realize that the law of the conservation of energy still is in force, which is equivalent to saying that who goes up must come down, and when the readjustment comes it usually smashes something. I was, consequently, leery, and prepared for and fully expected the worst to happen. I was not to be disappointed.

As my wife and I sat there staring at the works of this infernal invention, I thought she reached over to straighten one of the mirrors. As her hand approached the darned thing, a flash of blue flame shot out and with a report like a ton or so of dynamite going off it volatilized her. In an instant she was incinerated and the residue was a little scum of brown ash on the floor. All that was left of my little "Mother" you could flick under the rug with a pocket handkerchief. I could think of only one remedy. But one simple thing seemed left to do. I blush as I acknowledge it. It was to run. To run like, well, it is not proper for me to say how fast it seemed to me to be desirable to run. But I could not get my legs under me. I struggled with the frenzy of terror, but those dog-gone legs would not respond. Every hair stood up on end and the cold chills were oscillating up my main line at a million a minute. I held the damnable "influence terminal" in my hand and realized the mirrors were busily engaged in showing up my own future. There I was in the Radio Club room. Final was boring a hole in my abdomen with a three quarter inch bit to insert the terminals of a volt meter to measure my potential. The husky President was rolling up his sleeves preparatory to the better swinging of a monstrous gavel. The intention was to mash me in the face with this in an attempt to get square for things I had written about him in the past. A little cuss was off on one side connecting up hundreds of dry cells to a spark coil and after Final got through measuring me this "little boy with the spark coil" was to even up his account with me by discharging the secondary of his spark coil in the three quarter inch hole. In the background I saw Radical. He was watching and thinking. I knew he would hold his turn until along toward the end, after he had seen how the other things all worked and had absorbed a few ideas. Warty was fixing up a treatise on oscillation transformers which he was to read to me and which later was to be boiled, the extract from which I was to be made to drink while boiling hot.

The gink who took some of the things I said about Rotten QRM to himself, had a fire engine siren, a steam foghorn and a rapid fire gun, all harnessed together and he was only waiting his chance to touch the outfit off. A gang of youngsters off on the left had a section of what I recognized as my pet mast. They had it rigged on my stomach and chocked down at the short end while they jounced up and down on. the long end of the lever. This was causing the torture in my middle. I surmised the kids were some of those who believed in sending after 9:00 p. m.

Then I saw Radical advance, and I knew my time had come. He had an ugly looking business which I knew must be an "external capacity effect." It consisted of what seemed to be a lot of metal plates. Half of these he placed up against my front and the other half against my back. I thought of the explanation of the dielectric of a condenser—how the opposite charges attract each other and squeeze the glass. If the voltage is sufficient, the glass is crushed. Was Radical going to make me the dielectric of a condenser and crush and finally puncture me? The answer appeared in the form of a gang of men dragging in a couple of 2 inch conductors rigged with 24 inch petticoat insulators and labelled—"dangerous: 500,000 volts." When all was ready, he took command, and drove the crowd all back out of the way like a cop at a fire. When everybody was out of harm's way, he started up an omnigraph and then "beat it" for safety. I understood. The clock work in the omnigraph was to liberate a switch when he had reached a safe distance and throw 500,000 volts into me. Something snapped—a blinding flash of flame covered the whole face of nature. I felt the awful squeze beginning, and with a mighty jerk I gave one awful heave .

The next thing I knew, I was lying on the floor beside my bed, the baby was squalling her head off, the lights were lighted and the little wife was screaming, "John! John! wake up! wake up, John!"

I got up, sat on my bed and started to ask if the fire engines had come yet, but changed my mind and made it a drink of water. This straightened me out and after assuring the little wife that it was only a nightmare, the lights were put out the incident declared closed.

But, so help me Bob—no more mince pie after Radio Club meetings for mine. And if anybody ever starts talking external capacity effects to me, I sit up all night.

Well GN, OM and 73.

<< 1917 Jul | Index | 1917 Sep >>