Arranging demonstrations with these men was never an opportunity to be trifled with, evidence of an aristocratic carry-over which, though thoroughly undemocratic and contradictory, was indeed revealing. The military tradition, one whose themes run prior to the advent of national government, had long elevated themselves to elite levels rivalling those born of royal blood. Great ceremony accompanied the early turn of the Century encounters between inventors and military leaders; events which often proved or disproved the worth of featured hardware in a single shot. Heated debates among various division leaders often argued the relative practical worth of technical systems, usually viewed in a dubious military eye. Military leaders of different service branches were in constant competition to prove their non-reliance on scientific hardware, as if this was but another measure of strength and pride. Army, Navy, and a young developing Air Force now were in fierce personal competition.
Elite military leaders, themselves from the upper caste, were most interested in obtaining stations for their own purposes. The innermost predispositions of major historical figures is revealed in their actions. History records the military willingness to first seek out Marconi rather than Dr. Tesla. This preference was predicated on all the reasons which have previously been outlined: class elitism and the self-attractions of that self-centered clique. But this list of influences was balanced against the one item which sealed the destiny of Marconi. His perceived superiority was based entirely on his financial resource. Unlike the process which used Tesla in order to assess his potential achievements, with subsequent removal of funding at critical moments in his final moments of preparation, the continued funding to Marconi insured his success on many fronts. Highly prestigious authorities perceived Marconi as the only source from which to learn and acquire the secrets of Radio. The growth process which eventually produced a privatized military Signal Corps was the result of the manner in which wave radio technology began emerging as the “only possible wireless communications system”.
Radio offered military a manifold battle presence. Not only for its tactical advantages on the global scene, but also because hostile others were engaged in like research, different branches of the military now actively arranged liaison with The Marconi Company. Contrary to the prestige and perception of Marconi, other researchers were already experimenting in wave radio. Some had successfully duplicated and surpassed the Marconi System in Europe, a secret which Marconi continually managed to enforce. Those whose experimental work encompassed these topics knew that several key figures had long delved into the wireless arts. With the first appearance of Marconi, several adventurous experimenters, Count Georg von Arco, Fr. Joseph Murgas, Sigmund Musits, Harry Shoemaker, Dr. Fessenden, Lt. Com. William Hogg, Alexander Meissner, and a long list of others who had already perfected variant radio systems. Each of these wave radio systems operated with great power and clarity in a wide range of higher than VLF frequencies.
Demanding entry into the new radiotelegraphy field was not easy however. Sheer indomitable willpower however was not enough in this battlefront At the time, a formidable Emperor had to be carefully approached and appeased. Elitist met with elitist, the one now subservient to the other. In this case, it was a surprising obeisance, where the American military was required to kneel before a single individual. The pressures which forced Military into the initially subservient relationship with Marconi came from already mentioned prejudices, and the growing threat of a world poised on the brink of European War. Military requested assistance in developing their own transoceanic communications systems against that eventuality. The Marconi Company became the original contractor for these first military radio projects.
What had Marconi represented to the military? How was he perceived? Marconi was indeed a source of radio technology for which military recognized obvious advantages and potentials. But, despite all of the mentioned attribute given him through advantage and prestige, Marconi was a civilian. This status permitted a strong and advantageous separation through which a convenient ultimate divorce would be arranged. Military did not wish subservience to one who owed allegiance to neither national fronts, defense initiatives, or historical loyalties. Marconi was a monopolist, a business privateer, a foreigner. Marconi willingly supplied military with systems of their own.
Believing the extensive lie that wave radio was indeed “the only radio”, they were forced to come to Marconi. He supposedly had the secrets. His very fame seemed to be a declaration of dependable expertise. The military was always fixated on that term, “dependable”. Close after this word, the terms “reliable” and “practical” follow. In this evidence of rigid fixations, military authorities are not always correct in their assessments and trusts. The Marconi organization offered some kind of proof of control. The propaganda taught that Marconi was in absolute of the wave world. He was the one to see.
Before the military could launch their own radio waves out across the seas, before structuring and controlling their own wave world, they had to acquire both these secrets and this experience. Marconi’s initial contracts had been signed with the British military, a contract which became valuable to both parties. Having forced British military into a position of subservience, Marconi exacted an excessive tribute. Marconi, heir apparent of the “wave secrets”, used his position and their admiration to draw out every possible pound sterling while he could. American military had already observed these maneuvers. Yet, Marconi wanted a contract with them. His desire allowed them to shape their end of the bargain, one in which they planned an ultimate and complete break. Military in America had no desire to perpetuate a relationship with a civilian who swaggered with the false air of a tyrant
Their approach was simple, it having already been strategically planned that their young officers in training absorb as much learning as possible from the Marconi Institutes. The entire affair in no way differed from an espionage operation. Thereafter, certain military corpsmen were to concentrate on the examination of his VLF installations. Others were to gain operating experience. Yet others were to become proficient in engineering aspects of his technology. Once a thorough saturation of this knowledge and experience had been acquired, the corpsmen were to leave the Marconi System altogether. Thereafter, military engineering corps could design and develop their own systems. Privatized systems.
- CHAPTER 2
- CHAPTER 4