Public Address Systems

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Hi all,

It has been mentioned several times that Titanic did not have a public address system or alarm bells in the passenger areas, nor did any ship of the era. Does anyone happen to know when ships were first equipped with such systems in passenger quarters? I believe by the time the Queen Mary came on the scene such a system was in existance, although I could be wrong. I'm just curious to see when systems such as these were created.

Scott R. Andrews

Hi Logan,

I don't know exactly when the first PA system was installed aboard a passenger ship, but I would guess it wasn't until at least the mid to late 1920's. The various bits and pieces were in some stage of development at the time the Titanic was being built but none of these were yet in a mature enough state to provide a practical ship-wide P/A system. Companies such as Magnavox (electrodynamic loudspeaker) and Western Electric Co. (condenser microphone, high-vacuum amplifier tubes, audio amplification) were in the process of developing the necessary components that would eventually be combined to create the first P/A systems.

The first system of the type we're talking about was developed by Western Electric, with the first system being installed in 1924 at their "Hawthorne Works" manufacturing facility in Cicero, IL (this was the same W.E. factory which employed the workers who died when the Eastland capsized).

Scott Andrews
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