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Bell Telephone Laboratories: 90-Mile Laboratory for Telephone and Television
June 1945 Radio News

June 1945 Radio News
June 1945 Radio News Cover - RF Cafe[Table of Contents]

Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles from Radio & Television News, published 1919-1959. All copyrights hereby acknowledged.

Here is yet another report on the work done by Bell Telephone Laboratory to advance the science of telecommunications. By 1945 when this appeared in Radio News magazine, Bell Labs had already been experimenting with coaxial cable as a means of transmission for broadband voice, facsimile, and video signals. In fact, it claims coax was used as early as 1927 to connect New York City to Washington, D.C., and that a new loopback system simulating a 3,800-mile run was being tested between New York City and Philadelphia. Microwave relay stations* were also in their infancy at the time, so investigations into both modes of long distance transmission were being explored. It is too bad the company got overzealous and abused the customers who funded their success, resulting in a court-ordered breakup of the monopoly in 1974. Of course company managers and lawyers quickly figured out a way to restructure the "Baby Bells" in a manner which, taken in totality, had about the same (or more) control over the industry than before the breakup. * See Bell Telephone Laboratories links at bottom of page.

Bell Labs - 90-Mile Laboratory for Telephone and Television

Bell Telephone Laboratories: 90-Mile Laboratory for Telephone and Television, June 1945 Radio News - RF CafeBetween telephone offices in New York and Philadelphia once stretched a strange sort of laboratory. Most of the way it was underground; engineers made their measurements sometimes in manholes. It was a lead-sheathed cable containing two "coaxials" - each of them a wire supported in the center of a flexible copper tube the size of a lead pencil.

Theory had convinced engineers of Bell Laboratories that a coaxial could carry many more telephone talks than a full-sized voice frequency telephone cable; that it could carry adequately a television program. Experimental lengths were tested; terminal apparatus was designed and tried out. Finally, a full-sized trial was made with a system designed for 480 conversations. It was successful; in one demonstration people talked over a 3800-mile circuit looped back and forth. Now the cable is carrying some of the wartime flood of telephone calls between these two big cities.

This cable made television history also: through it in 1940 were brought spot news pictures of a political convention in Philadelphia to be broadcast from New York. Bell System contributions to television, which began with transmission from Washington to New York in 1927, have been laid aside for war work. When peace returns, a notable expansion of coaxial circuits is planned for both telephone and television in our Bell System work.

Bell Telephone Laboratories

Exploring and inventing, devising and perfecting for our Armed Forces at war and for continued improvements and economies in telephone service.



Posted July 27, 2021

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