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1911 __ Telephone Herald, Newark NJ
Comment : A second Telefon Hirmondó off-shoot was located in the United States, where the Telephone Herald in Newark, New Jersey (a suburb of New York City) began operation on October 24, 1911, but shut down due to economic problems the next year.In the early part of 1912 there were several gentlemen of New York traveling in Austria-Hungary and while they were in Budapest they were surprised to learn that they could listen to concerts or lectures without leaving their rooms. Being progressive Americans, they investigated this system of broadcasting programs and ascertained that it was not patented in the United States. They decided that such a system would be an excellent one to introduce at home, so they persuaded the Austrian engineers to tell them how it was accomplished.These traveling gentlemen being of Wall Street, naturally attacked the new venture in the Street's usual manner. They formed the New Jersey Telephone Herald Company. In the charter it was stated that the company was formed to provide subscribers with entertainment by using telephone lines. Among the gentlemen who were heading the venture were Percy R. Pyne, 2d, H. B. Hollins and Charles E. Danforth. It was decided to install the system in Newark, N. J., with the idea that if it was successful in that city, it should be introduced in New York. Wires were leased from the telephone company and the work of installation was started early in the Spring of 1912 and regular programs were being broadcast by July. These programs started at nine o'clock in the morning and continued without interruption until 11 p. m. As has been mentioned above the same sort of programs that are broadcast today were sent out over the wires in 1912. Every fifteen minutes during the sessions of the Stock Exchange, quotations were given, supplied by ticker service from the Stock Exchange in New York. News items were read as soon as they were reported to the papers. There were fashion talks, sport talks, and bed-time stories for the children. The musical portion of the programs were under the guidance of Frank Clegg, who had his own orchestra at the studio and several times a week, in the evening, dance music was broadcast from one of the cabarets. Then, as now, managers of the theatres had the problem confronting them of whether they should broadcast their productions, because several plays in the local theatres were put on "on the wire." The price of this service was $1.50 a month and the first two or three months the subscription department was swamped with orders for installations. Within the first three months about 5,000 subscribers were on the books of the New Jersey Telephone Herald Co. However, as with everything else, people soon tired of their new toy, mainly because loud speaker reception was not available, although the signals that were received were very clear and of excellent head-phone volume. New subscriptions continued to come in, yet there were a large number of subscriptions canceled. The management of the company realized where the difficulty lay and Mr. Rainbault and his chief engineer, Mr. J. L. Spence, worked on the perfection of a mechanical amplifier. However, they realized that the results obtained were far from satisfactory, so in December of the same year it was decided not to fight any longer against such odds. (G. C. B. Rowe, “Broadcasting in 1912”, Radio News, June, 1925, pages 2219, 2309, 2911)The most ambitious U.S. attempt to duplicate the Budapest service took place in 1911-1912. Manley M. Gillam organized the United States Telephone Herald Company, based in New York City, with plans to set up local affiliated Telephone Herald news and entertainment services, closely modeled after the Telefon Hirmondó, in cities thoughout the country. A short announcement in the October 30, 1909 Electrical Review and Western Electrician, The New Telephone Newspaper, teased that "pretty soon we'll be able to flop over in bed mornings, turn on a telephone-like arrangement and listen to a summary of news from all over the world without getting up out of bed". In the September 9, 1910 New York Times, News Bulletins By 'Phone reviewed a demonstation of the proposed service given by company president Gillam. On February 14, 1911, U.S. Patent #984,235, describing "a telephone system... adapted for supplying innumerable subscribers... general news, musical compositions, and operas, sermons, correct or standard time and other happenings at stated intervals of day and night" was granted to Hungarian Árpád Németh and assigned to the United States Telephone Herald Company. However, apparently the only affiliated system to ever actually go into commercial operation was one operated by the New Jersey Telephone Herald Company -- a company organized by Gillam -- in Newark, New Jersey. On October 22, 1911, the Times reported in Your Newspaper by 'Phone on the pending introduction of the Newark Telephone Herald service, and three days later the newspaper reviewed the first day of operations, in 500 Get the News by Wire at Once, while The Telephone Newspaper--New Experiment in America, by Arthur F. Colton in the March 30, 1912 issue of Telephony, also covered the hopeful introduction of the new service. The owners of the New Jersey company ran an advertisement in the 1912 edition of The Resources for Social Service of Newark, New Jersey, suggesting that "The Twentieth Century Newspaper" service "ought to be in every institution" and that some far-seeing philanthropist might want to pay for the service to entertain charity patients. During this time additional affiliated Telephone Herald companies were established throughout the United States, although none appear to have survived long enough to inaugurate actual commercial operations. In News is Told Through 'Phone from the August 24, 1911 Los Angeles Times, W. A. Grimes, president of the recently incorporated Southern California Telephone Herald Company, claimed that demonstrations of the system would begin shortly in Los Angeles, California, and this was followed in the September 3, 1911 issue of the same newspaper by an Advertisement for the Southern California Telephone Herald Company which informed local residents that "You Want The Telephone Herald". However, even if they did, there is no information that this system progressed past the promotional stage. In contrast, a year later a Telephone Herald affiliate in Portland, Oregon advanced at least to the point that it conducted demonstration transmissions. In the June 27, 1912 Oregon Daily Journal, an Advertisement for the Oregon Telephone Herald Company advised the public of the free daily demonstrations and solicited subscribers to the proposed service, which was "The Acme of Modern Civilization", costing five cents a day, and promising "Never a Dull Moment" for a service "Always on Tap!". A second Advertisement for the Oregon Telephone Herald Company, in the June 30, 1912 Oregon Sunday Journal, stated that regular service would begin on "about October 1st". In the January 7, 1913 Los Angeles Times, an Oregon Herald Telephone official claimed in a Personals entry that "more than 10,000 Portland residents have installed the service", however, it is not clear whether the system actually ever advanced beyond the demonstration stage. (Thomas H. White, “News and Entertainment by Telephone 1876-1925”)
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