Q: Describe the impact of wireless going to sea. Give me a sense of what it
was like for ships to be traveling without wireless and then to suddenly have
SD: Imagine going out in a ship and all you have are semaphores and
homing pigeons. Once you can no longer see the shore, you are incommunicado.
Nothing until you get to the other shore. That's the situation that people
confronted in the 1890s. Imagine then all of a sudden you get a device that
ends that isolation. That makes it possible if there is some kind of disaster
or accident to signal another ship similarly equipped. This is an enormous
revolution in safety and communications.
Q: Did this technology threaten the captains?
SD: Ships' captains had mixed reactions to wireless telegraphy aboard
ship. This was especially true of military captains because they were used to
having complete command of that ship once it left shore. That was their baby,
it was their show. And with wireless telegraphy there was the danger now that
their authority could be undercut by signals from shore, by somebody who
outranked them on shore. And so wireless telegraphy, especially for naval
captains, was not always welcome.
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