Radio procedures 1912


Nov 14, 2005
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Does anybody know what the procedure was for sending and receiving messages during the time of Titanic. Specifically how did the time stamps work? Did they send the time along with the message or simply log it in a book when a message was was sent or received. I've seen old movies where when they sent or received a telegram they would use a time stamp machine but that was years after 1912.
 

Dave Gittins

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Quite a number of messages from 1912 survive and can be seen in the Marconi archive. They all show the time of transmission recorded manually. The same goes for radio logs of messages sent and received. Some show rubber stamps were used to enter the name of the ship and the date, but there's no sign of any time stamp.
 
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Nov 14, 2005
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Quite a number of messages from 1912 survive and can be seen in the Marconi archive. They all show the time of transmission recorded manually. The same goes for radio logs of messages sent and received. Some show rubber stamps were used to enter the name of the ship and the date, but there's no sign of any time stamp.
Ok thanks. I will check them out. Never even crossed my mind to look at the actual messages.
 

Dave Gittins

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On Marconi ships, radio operators kept New York time when west of a certain longitude and GMT when east of it. Trouble is, I've forgotten what the longitude was. It may be on this site.
 
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Julian Atkins

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Hi Steven,

Have a look at George Turnball's evidence at the British Inquiry. He was high up in Marconi (Deputy Manager) and appears to have been responsible for collecting together all the relevant Marconi PVs for the British Inquiry. In theory, the PVs were written up from the individual Marconi telegraph/wireless forms at the time. A large number of these Marconi forms were examined when Turnball gave evidence, plus the PVs.

You can go to the Bodleian Library in Oxford and look at what survives in rows of boxes and files.

The wireless operator had a pad of Marconi message forms that the messages were written upon, then compiled in the PV. This was the theory. The individual Marconi forms were supposed to be retained, then handed in. Very few ships that night followed this proceedure. The messages were not subject to a 'fee' being navigational status messages or ship to ship MSG's official and 'chatty', and very few wrote them down.

John Durrant on the Mount Temple wrote them all down as apparently did also the Ypiranga wireless operator.

There are huge gaps in the PV of the Carpathia, and the Virginian (who sent the 'official' CQD position to the Californian at 6 am 15th April 1912). It is also apparent that Evans on the Californian did not keep proper records.

One of the problems with the Titanic and the Californian is reconstructing the wireless messages from other ships' surviving records, which requires a great deal of research and interpretation and analysis, and very few people have actually gone to Oxford to see what survives in the Marconi Archive. I hope to redress this very soon!

Cheers,

Julian
 
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I think it would be cool if you were able to go thru those old Marconi records. It amazes me that the records even exist. I hope you are able to go and see what they have. When my power plant shut down and they decided to demo it they brought in these huge industrial shredder trucks and shredded almost every piece of paper that was on the plant.
 

Dave Gittins

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I'll be interested to see if there is anything relevant in the archive that is not already on Marconi's site.

There are dozens of transcripts of messages in a book called Signals of Disaster, but they are mostly just passenger messages or routine ship's business.

To add to the fun, at least one ship, Birma, was not a Marconi ship.
 

Julian Atkins

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Hi David,

There is a vast number of Marconi message forms and PVs at Oxford in the Marconi Archive. The Marconi site you refer to contains a very small number of messages and only a few PVs, and very little which is of interest to those like me interested in the 'Californian Incident'.

The link for the Marconi Archive at Oxford is

Marconi Archive

(though I could not get it to load this evening)

The relevant section of the archive is A.8.2

Very little of the Marconi Archive at Oxford is available online, so unless others have published bits - such as 'Titanic Calling' - or 'Signals of Distress' - or Paul Lee, then a personal visit is required.

I presume the website you refer to is

marconicalling

I have been warned by the senior archivist responsible for the Marconi Archive at the Bodleian Library Oxford that many of the individual Marconi message forms are missing, and the folder provided for the Californian's PV and records remains empty!

Cheers,

Julian
 

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