Milestone-Proposal:Wireless Transmission between Fixed Antenna and Moving Trains, 1913

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Docket #:2007-08

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To the proposer’s knowledge, is this achievement subject to litigation?

Is the achievement you are proposing more than 25 years old?

Is the achievement you are proposing within IEEE’s designated fields as defined by IEEE Bylaw I-104.11, namely: Engineering, Computer Sciences and Information Technology, Physical Sciences, Biological and Medical Sciences, Mathematics, Technical Communications, Education, Management, and Law and Policy.

Did the achievement provide a meaningful benefit for humanity?

Was it of at least regional importance?

Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to pay for the milestone plaque(s)?

Has the IEEE Section(s) in which the plaque(s) will be located agreed to arrange the dedication ceremony?

Has the IEEE Section in which the milestone is located agreed to take responsibility for the plaque after it is dedicated?

Has the owner of the site agreed to have it designated as an IEEE Milestone? Yes

Year or range of years in which the achievement occurred:


Title of the proposed milestone:

Wireless Transmission between Fixed Antenna and Moving Trains, 1913

Plaque citation summarizing the achievement and its significance:

200-250 word abstract describing the significance of the technical achievement being proposed, the person(s) involved, historical context, humanitarian and social impact, as well as any possible controversies the advocate might need to review.

IEEE technical societies and technical councils within whose fields of interest the Milestone proposal resides.

In what IEEE section(s) does it reside?

Binghamton Section

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) which have agreed to sponsor the Milestone:

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) paying for milestone plaque(s):

Unit: Binghamton
Senior Officer Name: Vince Socci

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) arranging the dedication ceremony:

Unit: Binghamton
Senior Officer Name: Diana Bendz

Unit: Binghamton
Senior Officer Name: Ed Ware

IEEE section(s) monitoring the plaque(s):

IEEE Section: Binghamton
IEEE Section Chair name: Doug Hopkins

Milestone proposer(s):

Proposer name: Diana Bendz
Proposer email: Proposer's email masked to public

Please note: your email address and contact information will be masked on the website for privacy reasons. Only IEEE History Center Staff will be able to view the email address.

Street address(es) and GPS coordinates in decimal form of the intended milestone plaque site(s):

Henry Street, Binghamton, New York

Describe briefly the intended site(s) of the milestone plaque(s). The intended site(s) must have a direct connection with the achievement (e.g. where developed, invented, tested, demonstrated, installed, or operated, etc.). A museum where a device or example of the technology is displayed, or the university where the inventor studied, are not, in themselves, sufficient connection for a milestone plaque.

Please give the address(es) of the plaque site(s) (GPS coordinates if you have them). Also please give the details of the mounting, i.e. on the outside of the building, in the ground floor entrance hall, on a plinth on the grounds, etc. If visitors to the plaque site will need to go through security, or make an appointment, please give the contact information visitors will need. The Milestones Plaque will be placed on the actual tower used in the experiment. It is located beyond the sidewalk on Henry St in Binghamton, New York. As the tower and plaque will be outside there is no need for visitors to go through security.

Are the original buildings extant?


Details of the plaque mounting:

How is the site protected/secured, and in what ways is it accessible to the public?

The tower is accessible off the sidewalk

Who is the present owner of the site(s)?

Mr. Ari Meisel

What is the historical significance of the work (its technological, scientific, or social importance)? If personal names are included in citation, include justification here. (see section 6 of Milestone Guidelines)

Prior to 1913, wireless communication had only been used between two fixed stations on land or between one fixed station and one slow moving station, such as a ship at sea. It was not known whether this form of communications would perform adequately with one of the stations moving at a high rate of speed, for example a train moving at its maximum speed in 1913 of 40-55 miles per hour. The transmission between the train moving from Binghamton to Scranton at this speed, and the fixed towers at Binghamton and Scranton convincingly demonstrated that such communications were feasible, reliable and practical. For example, it was demonstrated that the length of the antenna / receiver on the train could be as small as 18 inches above the train for good communications performance. GIven the dominance of trains for high speed transportation of the early 1900's, there was a great advantage of an enabling technology to support communications from a moving train to the stations. The 1913 feasibility demonstration from this tower provided the ability for improved safety and convenience of train transportation and also spurred future development of wireless communications for other applications.[1][2][3][4][5][6]

What obstacles (technical, political, geographic) needed to be overcome?

The technical obstacle consisted of understanding the correct parameters for wireless communications to succeed between a fixed antena and the antenna on a rapidly moving train.

What features set this work apart from similar achievements?

Michael C. Duffy's account of this test in Electric Railways 1880-1990 states that the test performed on November 21, 1913 was the first demonstration that wireless communication between between fixed stattions and moving trains was practical and reliable. Tests prior to then, such as those in 1909, were judged to be too primitive for dependable results. The 1913 experiments demonstrated that wavelengths of 600m-3000m and power of 1kW-5kW provided adequate communications for the train and fixed stations transmitters and receivers. It was also demonstrated that that a single tower (station) could communicate with a moving trin for over a distance of 130 miles. A series of stations could be used to cover a much longer range. This technology was rapidly adopted after its utility was shown. A severe storm in 1914 in the United States crippled most train transportation except for those lines already using wireless communication.

Supporting texts and citations to establish the dates, location, and importance of the achievement: Minimum of five (5), but as many as needed to support the milestone, such as patents, contemporary newspaper articles, journal articles, or chapters in scholarly books. 'Scholarly' is defined as peer-reviewed, with references, and published. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. At least one of the references must be from a scholarly book or journal article. All supporting materials must be in English, or accompanied by an English translation.

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