Monday, January 16, 2006

News Paper, via Radio Fascimile

Yes this really happened.
A odd-ball radio service that peaked 1950's was facsimile transmission. this was primarily pushed by stations owned by newspapers as they tried new ways to deliver the news. More here.

Alexander Bain was granted a patent for creating the fax in 1843. Little has changed to his model even after the invention of computers and electronics. Let me point out that the fax predated both Morse code, the telephone, and even radio itself. In 1843 Bain introduced his first primitive facsimile machine. The sending device used a stylus attached to a pendulum, which passes over metal type to sense light or dark spots on a metal plated document. A pendulum on the receiving device makes a stain on a chemically treated paper when an electric charge is sent down a telegraph line. More here.

In 1903 Prof. Dr. Arthur Korn modified this system to established that same fax communication by broadcast instead of over a wire. He transmitted pictures between the cities of Paris, London and Berlin. That was the first radio-fax.

By 1922 the first transatlantic facsimile services were being provided by RCA. Their primary competitor was Western Union. both had developed “high-speed” radio fax systems. This was a big deal back then. With this system a picture could be sent over the Atlantic ocean and published the same day it was taken. Prior to this advance, news pictures had to travel by plane and ship.

By 1939 there were even daily newspapers available by fax . More than 1,000 U.S. households were experimentally equipped with fax receivers that electronically printed morning newspapers overnight. Station W9XZY, the experimental radio facsimile broadcasting station operated by the St. Louis Post Dispatch, inaugurated the world's first regular broadcast on ultra-high frequencies of specially prepared facsimile newspapers. The broadcasts continued daily for and Sunday at 2 p.m. I have read some notes that 93.7 KSD may have picked up the service from there but eventually this service ground to a halt.

In 1947, 98.1 WCAU debuted the service in Philadelphia (now WOGL)
In 1948 the New York Times owned 96.3 WQXR also offered the service.

This service died out in the 1950s. as fax over telephone lines became more affordable, and more regions were wired. As a lone hold out, Kyodo News in Japan still broadcasts whole newspapers over JJC-FM in Singapore. More here.