VOICES ACROSS THE SEA
AN ADDRESS BY DR. J. O. PERRINE
Thursday, October 17th, 1935
PRESIDENT BRACE: On Monday I received a cablegram from the Honourable Howard Ferguson, regretting that it would be impossible for him to get back to England to keep his engagement with us and to speak from London to His Honour, the Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario. Mr. Ferguson, as you probably all know, is President of the Canadian delegation sitting at Geneva and it is absolutely essential that he should remain in Geneva during these very trying times.
We appreciate very much having received an acceptance from His Honour, the Lieutenant-Governor, and from the Honourable Howard Ferguson to speak and we regret that we are unable to accomplish this purpose. However, the gods willing, and static conditions not being too serious, through the kindly co-operation of the Canadian Marconi Company, later on during Dr. Perrine's address, we shall have a call established between London and this room. At the London end, Mr. Napier who is in charge of the telephone system for the British Post Office in London England, will speak. At this end, our immediate Past-President, Mr. Dana Porter and Mr. Dunstan who, I understand, at one time had something to do with the telephone business in Toronto will talk to Mr. Napier.
Some three years ago Dr. Perrine addressed a group in Toronto. I was fortunate in being able to listen to that address. I think what struck most of us was Dr. Perrine's ability to take a highly technical subject and make it understandable to a layman. That requires an ability of a very distinct order.
Dr. Perrine will tell us something of the mysteries surrounding the means for converting sound waves into electrical impulses and transmitting them to some distant definite point and there again translating those electrical impulses back into sound waves. That, of course, is the fundamental theory of telephone engineers.
Dr. Perrine is a graduate of Iowa, Michigan and Cornell Universities. He is associated with a large group of engineers in the American Telephone and Telegraph Comany who for over fifty years, through their research work have been developing the art. Unquestionably, the world owes a great deal to this group of engineers, and it was primarily through their efforts that the communications of the world have been expanded to such a large extent and with such rapidity during the past few years. We acknowledge our debt to them. We and the rest of the world have benefitted. So, while we find that from the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the United States radio telephone systems radiate to all corners of the earth, we also find that within the British Empire, with its heart at London, its arteries extending to Canada, to Australia, to India and to South Africa, we are building up an "all red" telephone communication system which will be helpful in binding closer together the various nations of the British Commonwealth.
I have very much pleasure in introducing to this audience, Dr. Perrine.
DR. J. O. PERRINE: Mr. Brace, Gentlemen of the
Empire Club, Guests: It is very nice to be back in Toronto again. When Mr. Brace extended me this invitation I very happily and eagerly accepted and may I thank the Empire Club for the honour they have accorded the industry which it is my privilege to represent in having a part in your programme of noon meetings. There are many telephone men and women today who are looking after this call we shall have with London and their work, as operators and technicians, of course is made possible through many other telephone men and women in times his long service as an illustration point in my talk." He said in 1878 or '79 he began in the telephone business. If you were to take the electric current that comes in the receivers that you hold to your ear of all the telephone conversations in the Dominion of Canada ever since Mr. Dunstan began in the business, the electric current that embodies this little something in the receiver, if you could take all the electric current of all the calls in the Dominion of Canada since 1878, and put that current through your electric light meter, what bill would the electric light company send you? Five cents. So that something that is going to start across the ocean is very tiny.
I thought it would be interesting to show you, this voice, the sound waves, visually. It is often helpful to supplement our sphere of endeavour in one sense with our experience in another. So I am going from audition to vision. There is from my mouth sound going to your ear. Obviously, something is happening from your ear drum down the auditory nerve to the brain. Something is happening. Can you see that?
I have on the lapel of my coat a microphone and likewise Mr. Brace had one. I am connected to the loud speaker with a long flexible cord so I can move about and take my microphone or telephone transmitter with me. What is going through this wire? Something must be. I know something is. I cannot feel it or see it, but out of the loud speaker comes amplified sound. Could we get into the wire and see electrical current? Could we get into the auditory nerve and see electrical impulses going through to the brain? Could we get out on a ship and see the radio waves sweeping across the water?
So my first experiment is to give you a visual notion of sound and electric waves, so when the call comes, you may visualize then a bit more completely when our call to London is operating. I have an apparatus on the platform which we call an oscillograph. I also have a rotating mirror which I can turn with a motor, and a telephone receiver with a tiny mirror on it. And I have an automobile head-light, a very brilliant light, of course, that shines on the mirror and back to this rotatengone and so finally on the screen. Here is the transmitter. My waves of sound or electric current is being transmitted here and then it goes on. through the wire. As I talk the sound waves will be translated into electric current. (Demonstration given by Dr. Perrine.) Now, you see, Gentlemen, if I talk into the telephone here, as I am doing, it makes this tiny spot of light move up and down, with the result that across the screen sweeps an irregular, crooked, changing pattern line, making it possible for you to see this something that is coming out of my mouth or out of the loud speaker's mouth, with these variations of sound. So, I say, if you could get inside and see what is going on from your telephone to the telephone office, this is what it is like.
The operator says, "Number, please?" and you say, "Toronto 674," and she says, "Thank you." (Sound waves being shown on screen.) Very unfortunately, and we hope, very seldom, but once in a while, this comes back: "Wrong Number."
So again, this dancing pattern of light waves depicts the rising and falling of air pressure between my mouth and your ear or the auditory impulses that go down the auditory nerve.
(At this juncture Dr. Perrine demonstrated to his audience the variation in the waves which resulted when the different vowels and consonants were pronounced separately.)
I want to let you hear and see some music, so we shall take away the loud speaker and connect it to a phonograph which I have over here. I shall play a record and out of the loud speaker through which you have been hearing me, you will hear music.
(At this juncture, a phonograph record with instrumental and vocal music was played so that the audience heard it from a loud speaker. The room was darkened and a hand telephone was held in front of the loud speaker.
The "625" transmitter was connected to the oscillograph so the audience heard and likewise saw the sound variations.)
It is interesting to reflect that Alexander Graham Bell had the thought that he could help deaf people to know what is being said if he could get something like this on a screen. He made such waves as you see here. He didn't have the facilities which I very happily have, but imagine that all of you were deaf and I woud speak to you by these waves. I would speak to your ears, as it were, through your eyes. Of course the idea was never realized. We haven't had enough eye practice through several eons of time.
As we watch the waves and realize what our eyes and lips and teeth do, I am reminded of a sentence I heard as a boy. ft was this: "To one who does not reflect on the nature of the world about him, language is accepted as a matter of course, but to the scholar the amazing phenomena of articulate speech come home as a kind of every day miracle." I think that is very pretty: "The amazing phenomena of articulate speech come home as an every day miracle."
Now, just by way of contrast, I want to have you hear some other kinds of sounds, other than speech and to do that I have have some tuning forks here which I am going to connect up with my loud speaker. I have on the table now another one of my lapel microphones. (The tuning forks were struck individually and collectively. It was demonstrated how three tuning forks going together helped to produce a composite tone.)
The tone produced by these three tuning forks is a bit like an organ. Literally speaking, this voice of mine is made up, because in my teeth and lips and tongue and vocal cords, I have the facilities, as have all people who have vocal facilities, of those tuning forks which make the various sounds we call speech.
... (Further slides were shown,, demonstrating the effect on both speech and music when certain vibrations were removed. It was shown that when the very low vibrations were taken out of human speech, although it was harsh and displeasing to the ear, it was still intelligible. One could still catch the vowels and consonants. When the higher vibrations were removed, it was not always possible to detect what was being said, although the sound was not displeasing. The following sentences were repeated with the various high and low vibrations removed: Alexander Poe said, "Things must be taught as though you taught them not; and things unknown be taught as though forgot." Alexander Poe also recommended: "Speak, though sure, with seeming diffidence.")
So, Gentlemen, this something speaks. Words are precious freight and they can get wrecked very readily.
One thing that wrecks is static. One is long wires. The sheer fact of wires running alongside of one another does this sort of thing if one doesn't do something so it won't. What I have shown you artificially done is what happens if we don't look out that it doesn't happen.
The next experiment I want to do is to call Montreal and that has to do with the signs that are above you. When this thing called speech gets on the air or the ether, these radio waves may be picked up by radio receivers, so we inject into this system en route across the ocean the element of privacy. We manipulate it so we control, not in any mysterious fashion, but in a very straightforward understanding fashion we manoeuvre the frequency so it will be confused en route if anyone was listening. I have had this sign made to illustrate what I am talking about a bit. (A large sign with the word 'Canada' was shown.) If you look at that from the back, then it becomes `Adanac,' perhaps. Of course, that isn't right, because the D isn't a D, and the N isn't an N, and the C isn't a C. Could I do that with speech, Could I invert and make the low part of the vibrations become the high part and the high part the low part? How could that be made to read correctly? If I had a mirror and you looked in the mirror, what would you see here? Canada.
Did you ever write a note to your girl that way when you were a young boy, writing the letters backward and spelling it backward, and she looked in the mirror and read the message?
I have a friend in Boston who can write his name that way with great facility. You look in the mirror and there is the name-john Jones.
That is what we are going to do in a way with words, and have an electrical mirror, if you will permit me to use that analogy, and here are some of the effects of that. We call it an electrical inverter and when the waves are going across the ocean we put them in this cryptic language and the electric mirror in London will look at them, if you will.
Now, I am going to call this young man in Montreal. He has a whistle-it is a musical affair, such as they have in orchestras sometimes. He has one up there. He is going to blow it and the apparatus will do what I say, make the high frequencies low and low frequencies high.
We will call the young man in Montreal:
DR. PERRINE: Lang Distance, this is Dr. Perrine, at the meeting of the Empire Club at the Royal York Hotel. Will you connect me through to the tall test board in Montreal. Mr. Pringle, please.
OPERATOR: Certainly, Dr. Perrine.
DR. PERRINE: Mr. Pringle, please. Hello, Mr. Pringle. This is Dr. Perrine.
MR. PRINGLE: How do you do, Dr. Perrine.
DR. PERRINE: How do you do. I am a few minutes behind schedule, so will you go ahead as we rehearsed and do your cryptographic language for us a bit?
MR. PRINGLE: Yes, I will. First, by means of this whistle, I will try to give a sound of rising pitch. (Sound given.) Now, I will give you the same sound through the inverter. You will notice it is greatly reduced. (demon strated.) I will now try a sound of falling pitch, and now the same sound of falling pitch through the inverter. This will be reproduced as a sound of rising pitch. We will now experiment with the words, "Empire Club of Canada, Toronto." I will speak these words through the inverter and you will notice they are changed to entirely different words or sounds. Now, if I can speak the words you have just heard through the inverter they should come out with some degree of intelligibility as "Empire Club of Canada, Toronto."
(The words, "Empire Club of Canada, Toronto," as translated through the inverter were .shown on the screen as, "Unpaler Kled Aus Komibah Payrampay.")
And, now, "Greeting 'from the Bell Telephone Company of Canada. Through the inverter it came as "Groo, pooings f ram thoo doyee Playofine Crinkinope Aus Komibah.")
And, "Greetings from the Canadian Marconi Company," and we will speak these same words through the inverter. The inverted speech equivalent: "Groopoongs fram thoo Komobooahn Norkaymal Crinkinope.")
Now, I will try the little nursery rhyme, "Mary had a Little Lamb." (The nursery rhyme also repeated.)
DR. PERRINE: Hello, Mr. Pringle. You are quite a cryptologist. I will confer an LL.D. or something on you. Thank you so much for, your help here and at Montreal the other night.
MR. PRINGLE: Thank you, Dr. Perrine.
DR. PERRINE: Good-bye. MR. PRINGLE: Good-bye.
DR. PERRINE: Now, you must understand, Gentlemen, that it is very difficult to get these equivalents. You must listen many times to it and to have good imagination to an approximate equivalent. So, in other words, the electrical mirror does better than the human brain does in converting these one way or the other. Mr. Pringle does very well, I think. I have a friend who entertains himself very nicely on the train going in and out of New York by doing crytograms. I gave him one of these the other night and I said, "What can you make out of this?" He came to me the next morning and he said, "Perrine,
I can't make out this one at all." Inverted language has no meaning at all to the cryptologist's art.
Now, for our call. First, the geography of it. Here is a slide showing the technical operator's position in Montreal. Here is the radio transmitter at Drummondville, of the Canadian Marconi Company.
You remember this little tiny voice took so little current in your electric light meter. You must have it very sizeable, very large, and that means amplification by instrument called an amplifier and these elements in an amplifier are called vacuum tubes. If we were looking for a keystone, this keystone would be this glass assembly of gas and electricity. How electricity functions in a vacuum has lead to much practical progress. Here is a tube (tube shown.) There must be this gradual approach to this idea of getting the voice very, very large in going across the ocean. You might make this little analogy. It is something like playing contract bridge-the one over one system. The voice out of my mouth is a `one club'. My partner says, "One diamond." Here is one diamond. (Illustrating.) I respond with "two hearts." He says, "Three spades," and three of these might be three spades, and finally, one over one, we arrive at "Seven no trump' and there we are The theory is that we want to approach this great power by gradual steps.
This slide shows the transmitting station. Here we are across the ocean - Toronto Montreal, Drummondville - across the stretch of the sea to London.
The next slide here shows the radio receiver at Baldock, near London. Here a person's voice after it has come over the long journey is very, very tiny, and here it is built up until it is sizeable enough to send to London on wire.
Here is a slide showing the London trans-oceanic operating position in the British Post Office, London. This next slide shows some of the main trunk line circuits of telephones, which are very satisfactory and give excellent service to all parts of Europe.
There are today 33,000,000 telephones in the world and by these lines of radio between them, in your British Empire, from London to Australia and South Africa. and all, 92 percent of all the telephones of the world among the 2 billions of people can be connected. So any telephone can reach any other telephone in 92 per cent of the world.
The next slide shows the antennae system of the British Post Office at Rugby. They are of the directive or beam antennae systems. They lie directly at right angles to the directive to Canada and send the waves west of Rugby. Wires are hung on the front surface and on the back surface. It is very interesting and very surprising, though no mystery, if you hang wires or a curtain of wires on one side of the towers, and on the side away from Canada, and a certain distance away hang another set of wires, in a curtain, just like the front set, what happens? The power of the radiated electric waves are better toward Canada than in any other direction. That is the reflection idea. It is very fascinating how it can be brought about. The hanging curtain is a reflector of electric waves and reminds one of a light reflector.
Coming back to Yamachiche where the Canadian Marconi station is. Here is the radio receiver at Yamachiche, near Montreal, and it comes back to Toronto by wire.
Now, for our call. I believe, in Toronto, to get long distance, you call 110, and I believe Mr. Napier will be at the phone. (Dr. Perrine called long distance.)
OPERATOR:This is long distance.
DR. PERRINE: This is Dr. Perrine at the Empire Club Meeting. I have arranged for a call to go through to London, England, to Mr. Napier of the British Past Office. Will you ask the Montreal Operator to put that through?
OPERATOR: Thank you, Dr. Perrine. I will do so. Montreal Operator, Dr. Perrine at the Royal York Hotel, in Toronto, is reporting ready to talk on his call to London, England.
MONTREAL OPERATOR: Thank you. I will complete the call immediately and call you.
TORONTO OPERATOR: Dr. Perrine, I have informed the trans-Atlantic operator of your desire that the call be put through to London and in a moment I will call you back.
DR. PERRINE: You will call me back, will you, Operator?
TORONTO OPERATOR: Yes, I will.
DR. PERRINE : While I am awaiting the call, there is a little story I heard this morning which may be apropros of our talk. It seems that a Scotch Minister came to America and at an Armistice celebration was asked to make a prayer on November 11th at 11.00 o'clock in the morning. So he stood up and said something like this "Dear Lord, we are grateful for the beauty, and so forth of this day, for the bravery of the men who served in the Great War, and the memory of those who gave their lives in the Great War and we are not unmindful that at this very moment our kinsmen across the sea are also standing in reverent prayer. However, Lord, Thou knowest that there is a difference of five hours in time.' (Laughter.)
(At this juncture the telephone rang.) DR. PERRINE : Hello, Mr. Napier. MR. NAPIER: Hello, Dr. Perrine.
DR. PERRINE: Good afternoon.
MR. NAPIER: Good evening. It is now about a min- ute past seven.
DR. PERRINE: How are you over there today?
MR. NAPIER: Very well, thank you. We have a beautiful day here, plenty of sunshine and very mild weather. Just a little like your Indian summer, you know.
DR. PERRINE: I didn't know you had Indian summer in England.
MR. NAPIER: We imagine it's Indian summer.
DR. PERRINE: Do you know my friend, Mr. Morehouse in London.
MR. NAPIER: I know him very well, indeed. I knew him over 30 years ago when he carne over on vacation work with the National Telephone Company.
DR. PERRINE: You remember me to him, will you please? And, Mr. Napier, I have the honour of introducing to you on the phone, Mr. Dunstan, formerly of the Telephone Company in Toronto and it is said he started the first telephone exchange outside of the United States. He is a very grand old man in Toronto. I would like to have you exchange greetings.
MR. NAPIER: Tell me, what did you say his name was?
DR. PERRINE: Dunstan.
MR. NAPIER: I have got it. O.K.
MR. DUNSTAN: Hello. All you have to do Mr. Napier, is think of St. Dunstan, and naturally, you think of me. MR. NAPIER: I am very pleased indeed to have a talk with you, Mr. Dunstan.
MR. DUNSTAN: It has been my great privilege to be connected with the telephone, practically from its incep tion. In 1878 I opened the first exchange in the world outside of the United States, and within one month of being the first in the world, so I have lived through the whole of its marvellous history.
Now, Mr. Napier, I have read with much interest from time to time the reports of the wonderful progress of the art in England and your wonderful progress during the years of depression. I am sure it would interest this very large audience if you would say to us and to them a few words with respect to the progress and perhaps, especially, with regard to international communications and its effect upon world matters.
MR. NAPIER: Well, Mr. Dunstan, as I think you know, over there, just as we know about your system over here, we have been developing very rapidly in all sorts of ways. We have added very materially to the number of subscribers, for example, of the London Telephone Service,, and last year, in spite of the fact that things were perhaps not as good as they might have been. we have been making increases in telephones of over 71,000. This year, so far we are considerably above that rate and we expect in the London area we will probably have an increase of not less than probably some seventy or more telephone stations. The automatic system, as you know, is being introduced pretty rapidly in the London area and in Great Britain., generally. We are adding automatic exchanges and the public are taking pretty well to them and they prefer the system to the manual system. We are developing a god deal in the way of residential business, that is telephones in private houses and we have done a very great deal in the way of extending private branch exchange offices and we have some very large private branch exchanges.
You people who are Canadian or American, may be interested in the firm of Selfridge in London. They have a very large private exchange with about 140 exchange lines and I think some 900 or so extensions and they have a private branch exchange switch=board of twenty-one operators.
That is typical of the sort of thing that is going on in the big London business houses and in many of the big stores in London. In all departments they depend very largely for their business on orders received from customers by telephone and some of the big stores have quite elaborate order departments, something along the line of the big order departments you have on the other side of the water. Yes, we have one of our largest departmental stores that on a record day will have between 50 and 60 thousand orders on their order wire in one day. MR. DUNSTAN. I am sure that is very, very interesting. I wish we had the time to elaborate. Of course, time is the essence and I congratulate you on the progress you have made.
Do you happen to know that the first operator in England was the somewhat celebrated Samuel Insult, and one of the first operators in England was the no less celebrated George Bernard Shaw
MR. NAPIER: No, I don't think I 'did know that. I know George Bernard Shaw but I didn't know he was a telephone operator.
MR. DUNSTAN: Samuel Insull, on the 1st day of January, 1879 received a communication from the Edison Company in America which led to the formation of his whole career, and I have a letter from George Bernard Shaw, in which he states he was an operator for a short time, from November, 1878.
MR. NAPIER: That is very interesting, indeed. I think Mr. George Bernard Shaw has got a better job now. He is able to make more money out of writing books and plays, I think
MR. DUNSTAN: Yes.
MR. NAPIER: - than out of telephone operating. Personally I think he ought to get much more money as a telephone operator than a writer, but the rest of the world doesn't think so.
MR. DUNSTAN: Unfortunately, Dr. Perrine is at the door here, telling me I have got to shut up.
I wish to convey to you the greetings of this large audience, to yourself, personally, and to dear old London, the centre of the British Empire, and to thank you and to say how much pleasure it has given me. I hope to be in England next summer again. If I do, I may have the pleasure of calling on you.
I am afraid I shall have to say good-bye, not from my own inclination, but because Dr. Perrine is standing over me.
MR. NAPIER: Good-bye.
DR. PERRINE: Hello, Mr. Napier. Did you hear that applause?
MR. NAPIER: I did.
DR. PERRINE: Very good. We might call that a handclap across the sea.
Now, Mr. Napier, I would like to have you exchange greetings with Mr. Porter, the former President of The Empire Club of Canada. In just a minute, Mr. Porter will be here.
MR. DANA PORTER: Good evening, Mr. Napier.
MR. NAPIER: Good evening, Mr. Porter.
MR. DANA PORTER: Is the telephone system of the City of London a beneficient monopoly, such as the Bell Telephone Company of Canada?
MR. NAPIER Well, as you know, the Telephone System of London is in the hands of the British Post Office and so, I suppose„ we have what you would call a monopoly, but I don't think we allow that to in any way affect our relations with the public, and we are doing our best to give the public what they want and the class of service they want.
MR. DANA PORTER: Of course the Bell Telephone Company of Canada is doing exactly the same thing. If I said anything else my telephone would be discontinued.
MR. NAPIER: I quite believe it. I haven't been much in Canada but I had the pleasure of visiting the United States some years ago and I know a good deal of what is going on on the other side of the border and I have a very high appreciation of what all you people do in the telephone world. We, I think, would not be as advanced in so many ways if we had not copied your methods and we believe your arrangements are usually very sound and well worth considering.
MR. DANA PORTER: I am afraid our conversation will have to be brought to a close. It is indicated that the time is up. This is the longest long distance telephone conversation I have ever had. Well, I musn't keep you any longer. Good-bye, Mr. Napier.
MR. NAPIER: Good-bye, Mr. Porter. (Applause.)
DR. PERRINE: Hello, Mr. Napier. MR. NAPIER: Is that Dr. Perrine?
DR. PERRINE: Yes. It has been very good of you to come down and exchange greetings and tell about the telephone exchange service in Great Britain and I assure you the Club will thank you for your courtesy and cooperation in this connection and for the courtesy of the Canadian Marconi Company.
I shall wish "Good afternoon" to you.
MR. NAPIER: I am very much obliged to you for giving me the opportunity and it is a very great pleasure for me to talk to you on this occasion.
DR. PERRINE: It is as much a pleasure to me as to you, I am sure.
I will borrow the English phrase and say, "Cheerio." MR. NAPIER: Cheerio, and Good Luck. (Applause.) DR. PERRINE: Now, I have just a moment, Gentlemen.
Some time ago there was in Great Britain a great enterprise completed, namely the building of a tunnel under the Mersey River at Liverpool and on that occasion the King of England was there and made some remarks apropros of the completion of that great enterprise. It was reported in the New York papers. I read it, it struck my fancy and I wrote it down and I learned it and this is what the King said: "May I praise the imaginations that foresaw, the minds that planned, the skill that fashioned, the will that drove and the strong arms that endured in bringing this to pass." (Applause.)
I think that is very beautiful: The imaginations that foresaw, the minds that planned, the skill that fashioned, the will that drove and the strong arms that endured.
I take it we might say the same thing about this enterprise of talking from Canada to Great Britain. Likewise, of these telephone men and women„ their imaginations foresaw, their minds had planned, their skill had fashioned, their will had striven, and the strong arms of the linemen had endured.
May I again thank you, Gentlemen, for this privilege of coming and having a part in your programme. I shall say, "Good afternoon." (Hearty applause.)
PRESIDENT BRACE: Gentlemen, first let me say to Sir Joseph Flavelle and Mr. Eaton, and through them to the Canadian Marconi Company how much we appreciate their assistance in making it possible to have this demonstration overseas so successfully.
Dr. Perrine, I gladly withdraw the word `mystery.' If mystery is not what he was bringing out of the bag, there is something magical about it. Some of us may still feel that there was something very mysterious but we have learned a great deal from the method in which Dr. Perrine has developed and solved these mysteries.
I don't know that there is any particular phase of this address and demonstration that one could take out and say was the keynote. It is true, it is the second time I have had the opportunity of hearing Dr. Perrine on this subject. One of the interesting facts to me which wasn't developed in Montreal, was to see that beautiful Oxford accent of Mr. Dana Porter on the screen. (Applause.)
I am sure you will all join with me in extending to Dr. Perrine our very hearty thanks for this very illuminating address and demonstration. (Applause.)