Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 71.djvu/34

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28
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

destructive effects of stray currents. Even then, imperfect protection resulted in the complete or partial destruction of several telephone exchanges. Following the destruction of one exchange, Mr. A. S. Hibbard suggested that in view of the delay in getting large switchboards in emergencies, it would be a wise thing in the way of insurance, if a number of telephone companies would jointly buy a complete central office equipment, to be built and held in convenient storage, with the understanding that it should go to the first company whose exchange was burned, and that, that company would pay its cost price or replace it with new equipment.

Referring to the introduction of electric-light circuits, Mr. W. J. Denver told the members of the Boston Electric Club:

I remember the first time the arc lights were exhibited in my native city, and what a tumult was caused at the telephone office. An electric light circuit was strung, using the ground for a return and four or five lights were placed upon it. Immediately on the starting of the dynamo, up went the lights and down went the switchboard drops, and the confusion of tongues consequent upon the building of the tower of Babel was as the stillness of death compared to the racket on the telephone wires. ... The remedy was evident; double the light circuit, which was done the next day.

When the electric-light industry started, the electric lighting fraternity turned to the telegraphers for assistance and advice, just as the telephone men did. But the electric-light men also had the advantage of the experience gained by telephone men in building local circuits. It is written that the first electric-light switching devices were derived from the telegraph switch, only enlarged to accommodate the greater volume of current. The strap key, the telegraph key and the switchboard plug were all utilized in central-station electric lighting, and the arc that formed between the terminals following the withdrawal of the plugs was usually blown out with the breath, or whipped out with a cloth, or extinguished with a handful of sand.

In other words, the same degree of crudeness was just as strongly in evidence in primitive electric-light plants as in the pioneer telephone exchanges. And, as one writer stated it in 1882,

there are electric-light charlatans as well as medical quacks, charlatans totally ignorant of the electrical laws, and with no experience in electric lighting.

One point worthy of note is that the telephone engineer soon found that he must not only be able to solve telephone problems, but must also be thoroughly conversant with every phase of electric lighting, and then of electric power and of electric traction that was in any manner likely to have a bearing on or to influence the character of telephone service. Thus, as the editor of The Electrical World has so concisely stated:

In the telephonic engineering done by Carty and his colleagues there is no parallel whatsoever to be found in any other branch of electrical engineering.