The Titanic Regulation

“At 10:25pm on Sunday, April 14, 1912, a single message borought wireless, Marconi, and evantually [David] Sarnoff to prominence: The Titanic, fastest and most luxurious ocean liner of its time, was sinking in the North Atlantic. The catastrophe would serve to make radio communications indispensable to safety at sea. … The Titanic‘s wireless distress call was heard fifty-eight miles away by the Marconi operator on the Carpathia, which enabled those in lifeboats to be rescued three and half hour later. But inadequate wireless installations on two other ships in the vicinity (which were in fact closer than the Carpathia) meant that the Titanic’s distress signal ‘CQD’ and the recently adopted ‘SOS’ went unheeded.”–Tom Lewis, Empire of the Air, 1991.

“After the Titanic disaster, the perceived value of the ether as a resource increased immeasurably, and the resource had to become more serviceable. The necessary reforms were now obvious to the press and to Congress. … The Radio Act of 1912 represents a watershed in wireless history, the point after which individual exploration of vast tracts of the ether would diminish and corporate management and exploitation, in close collaboration with the state, would increase. The American spectrum was partitioned: another frontier was partially closed.”–Susan J. Douglas, Inventing American Broadcasting, 1899-1922, 1987.

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