History of wireless telegraphy and broadcasting in Australia/Topical/Publications/Australian Radio History/WIA

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By Charles D. MacLurcan – 2CM (N.S.W. W.I.A. President) Reprinted from the Souvenir of Australian Wireless, December 1923.

Wireless development needs as its strongest factor every encouragement given to experimenting, and in this respect, the Australian system covering Broadcasting is practically the most liberal in the world, inasmuch as it gives a free hand to broadcasters, provided of course, they do not encroach upon the Regulations under which broadcasting is carried out. It, however, behoves all Australian experimenters to work together, not only in experimental work and so improve the utilization of wireless, but also in order to see that every encouragement is given to the public to partake of the advantages of wireless as offered them by legitimate broadcasting concerns; hence experimenters, by having such a great trust placed in them by the Government authorities, will return the compliment by doing all in their power to see that the arrangements are given best test. With the remarkable development of wireless in the last decade, we can look for still further developments in the near future; hence the broadcasters must ever be on the alert to peer into future developments and so put on record the advantages won in their experimental work. There are many problems they must face, for instance the overcoming of wave power weakening by statics, and also solving the problem regarding the one way inefficiency of messages between two certain points, particularly where equatorial districts have to be covered.

By being classed as an experimenter in wireless, no mean privilege is given to such, because such are really on the verge of a future which practically lifts humanity into the ethereal, and is really mans first touch with the infinite given in practice instead of theory. We, as experimenters in this great science, feel we are specially privileged and we trust that while we enjoy same, it shall have something placed on record to merit the honour that has been given us. The direction of the future developments of wireless will cover such problems as the direction of aerial traffic, the transmission of natural coloured photography, and the speaking with one voice that can reverberate round the earth. Experimenters, therefore, have a great responsibility, which can be best protected by uniting in the Wireless Institute.

Inaugurated in March 1910, the then Wireless Institute of New South Wales was the first Technical Radio association to be formed within the British Empire, and the ambitions of the enthusiastic small band of original experimenters in this wonderful science have been more than realised by the position of the Institute today in the very front rank of Scientific Societies. If only that group of originals had been able the lift the veil of the future when they took the initial step of forming this Society, they would have been amazed by the intricate tangles in store for their successors in the years to follow. In this regard it is most gratifying that a dozen of them are still actively associated with what has now become the New South Wales Division of the Wireless Institute of Australia.

Courage, determination and sincerity are the three outstanding qualifications of the Institute today as in the past, and recent events have proved that the faith of the Institute’s founders in the righteousness of their cause, has been retained as one of the most precious possessions throughout the Institute’s existence. The principal objects underlying the formation and administration of the Institute may be briefly summed up as follows:-

[a] Scientific development of radio communications in all its branches. [b] To provide a centre of information, instruction and advice on all matters pertaining to radio communication. [c] To consider, originate and promote reform in the law; to consider proposed alterations and petition Parliament.

The results so far achieved speak for themselves and the Exhibition is one of the activities under these headings. The Institute has always played its part and has been largely responsible for the development taking place in Australia.

Earlier in this year the Institute conducted a series of tests receiving signals transmitted from experimenters in the United States, the power used at the transmitting end being only 100 watts. The great success obtained prompted the Institute to go further, and a series of tests has just been concluded wherein American experimenters again transmitted to Australians, and the local experimenters transmitted back on the same low power; 100 watts. Although the results of this latter test are not yet definite from the point of view of Americans receiving the Australians, still it is gratifying to know that 88 stations in the States have been logged in Sydney and Melbourne.

When broadcasting was first seriously considered in Australia, the Institute took a prominent part in the compilation of the regulations to suit local conditions, and it is felt that the best possible steps have been taken in Australia to place this wonderful feature of radio on a comprehensive basis to suit local conditions and avoid the many complications which have occurred in other countries. The severe test came when war broke out in 1914. The shortage of wireless operators for military and transport purposes was acute, and it is a matter of history that seventy five percent of the then Institute members were immediately absorbed in war service, and the value of such men in time of national crisis was and ever will be invaluable. Patriotism is very dear to the Wireless Institute, and one of the principal requirements before admission to membership in any State branch is that candidates must be of British nationality.