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Full text of "An interview with Doctor James Harris Rogers / a thesis by Carroll Staley James"

biography 
Dr. James Harris Rogers (1850 — 1029) 
Dr f James Harris Rogers was born in Franklyn, Tenn- 
essee, July 13tn, 1850, tne son of a. James Webb Rogers 
and Cornelia (Harris )Hogers. lie was educated under pri- 
vate tutors and at st. UHarles uollege in London, England, 

and later received nonorary degrees of Doctor of .science 
at Georgetown University and tne University of Maryland. 

nis entire life was devoted to scientific work, special- 
izing in electrical research. He was awarded about fifty 
patents by tne United States and other governments relat- 
ing to multiplex and rapiu printing telegraphy, electric 
lights and radio telegraphy. tie was the discoverer of vis- 
ual synchrony ism used extensively today in television, 
and tne collector of considerable scientific data in con- 
nection with underground and underwater radio communica- 
tion. 

Dr. Rogers was an Honorary Fellow of the Maryland 
Academy of aciences (1919) and the holder of its inventor* s 
medal. The General Assembly of Maryland, by joint reso- 
lution of the House and aenate, extended him a vote of 
thanks for his great contribution to scienc and service 
to his uountry during the World War. 

Dr. Rogers resided in Hyattsville, Prince George's 

county, Maryland, from 1895 to Dec. 12, 1989 when he died 
from a neart attack at his home. He was unmarried and a 
member of tne ^atnolic Unurch. 



1. 



AN INTERVIEW w]TH DOCTOR JAMES HARRIS ROGERS 



An audience with Dr. James Harris Rogers, the Hyatt s- 
ville inventor who has made Mrryland unique in the radio 
world, is the unfulfilled desire of radio students and 
enthusiasts throughout the United States. Years ago 
while everybody was reaching into the air to pull down 
signals, Dr. Rogers was investigating the possibility of 
tapping the waves of energy that travel beneath the earth's 
surface. The success of these subterranean experiments 
is a matter of common knowledge. 

It has been the writer's privilege to talk with 
this distinguished gentleman. Dr. Rogers makes his home 
at Firwood with his brother Joseph Rogers. The home place 
is a large wooden structure 
set in spacious grounds, of 
the type characteristic of 
the South before the Civil 
War. At the outset, it is 
unfortunate to have to re- 
late that the experimental 
work of this genius has been 




Home Of Dr, Rogers 

Hyatt s villa, Kd. 



2. 



greatly impeded in recent years on account of failing 
health. Dr. Rogers is now approaching his eightieth 
year. 

Soon after our exchange of greetings, '"The Doctor," 
as he is known to his home folks, was thumbing the pages 
of an old scrap book and explaining to me his life's 
work. It contained newspaper clippings from all over 
the world elaborating on his inventions. Presently a 
smile came over his face and h© said, "Here is an ac- 
count of one of my earliest electrical adventures." 
It explained how at the age of 15 years, Dr. Rogers em- 
ployed a black cat as a telegraph relay. A boot was 
adopted as the container for the animal, holes being 
cut in the toe from where the hind feet of the cat pro- 
truded and the front feet being tied with the, lacee. A 
telegraph key in the secondary circuit was connected to 
one paw. The high tension primary circuit was then passed 
through the cat and its muscular reaction responded to 
the -lots and dashes of the ^orse system. Dr. Rogers said 
it was one cat that never came back* The idea, however, 
was original and its success encouraged him to experiment 
further and ascertain means where it would not be necessary 
to employ a oat as a piece of electrical apparatus. 

Passing on through the scrap book, it was learned 






3. 



that Dr. Rogers at the age of 27 yenrs was appointed. 
Chief Electrician at the Capitol at Washington. While 
there he made many experiments with the electric light, 
and installed according to his own design a device 
called the Thermotele Meter by which' the temperature 
in any part of the Capitol could he read in the toiler 
room. 

Perhaps his first great invention was the print- 
ing telegraph. By this apparatus, anyone who understood 
the operation of a typewriter could send a message, with 
this machine as many as 200 words a minute could he sent 
as compared with 20 words transmitted by the old Morse 
key system. For more complete details of this device, 
the writer refers you to an article by "5. Ellesmere 
McEeige, entitled "The Electrical Inventions of Dr. 
James Harris Rogers" in the library of Phi Mu Fratern- 
ity at the University of 






Maryland. Howesrer, it may 
be pertinent to mention 
the ingenious way the let- 
ters were formed by Dr. 
Rogers on the Rapid Print- 
ing Telegraph, The accom- 
panying illustration shows Cou(imy Et Mttow 
the ei^it simple marks or characters with which it is 



^ The 8 Characters 

^KEDEFtHIJ 

KLMNDPQR 

XTUVNXXZ 

The Telegraph Alphabet 



BALTIMORE* MD- MRCH FOURTEENTH^ NINETVFIfE- 
TP J- H- RJ3&EKS-- W/qSHJN&TDN -TJ-C- 

HHAT HATH GOD HRDUGHT - THE SPIRIT DF PROFESSOR 

MORSE HOVERING DI/ER THE SCENES OF HIS TRMLS /MJ TRIUMPHS OF FIFTS 
IE/IRS V4GJ3 > K.EHOLJJS IN WDNTJER /4NTj ,4M/4ZEMENT THE SUCCESSFUL WORKING 
DF A NEW S\STEM FROM THE OFFSPRING DF HIS GENIUS- HIS SPIRIT 
H/WH RECKONS TD THE NEW GENIUS AHU H/*PES H I M A WELCOME TP THE >4NN/4LS 
DF GLORIOUS FXME- HyfllL TD THE TJIICDKERER DF V\1UAI SSNCHRDN1SM- 
Hyfll L TD THE I NKENTOR DF R/4PID PRINTING. TELEGRAPH*- HA\l TD IN- 

VENTOR JyflMES HARRIS ROGERS- THE BENEFACTOR DF M/dNKINJJ- 

IISTINGUISHETJ A\ XDUR FRIEND AHT3 EO-L^HORER- 

EDW/4RTJ S- NDKTPN- 

FIRST MESSAGE OVER THE NEW LINE. 
The above is the result of the first triil of the System over the new line as soon as it was connected with the first two machiDes. 



AN IFTERYIEW WITH DOCTOR JAMES HARRIS ROGERS 



A Thesis "by 
Carroll Staley James 
as part of "his initiation into Phi Mn Fraternity, 
the Honorary Engineering Fraternity of the University of 

Mary 1 an3. 



May 8, 1929. 



5. 



possible to form any letter of the English alphabet • 
Continuing on through the hook, Dr. Rogers came 
to his work on underground transmission and reception. 
Immediately his eyes brightened, for it was this work 
in which he was most interested, notwithstanding his 
experiments along these lines are left uncompleted on 
account of failing health. Dr. Rogers was a pioneer 
in this field of radio endeavor, and the results he 
obtained elevated him to much the same distinction en- 
joyed by men like Hertz, Edison, Marconi and Bell. 
Dr. Rogers* invention making radio practical for sub- 
marines is considered one of the great War ti^e dis- 
coveries. His genius was employed to save life and 
not to destroy life. 

As early as 1908, Dr. Rogers conceived the idea 
that the earth, and not the air, is the medium through 
which most radio waves are propogated. As a conse- 
quence he conducted experiments proving that the earth 
is a conductor of this energy. Although the messages 
received were weak, the results were unmistakable, but 
pressing duties prevented him from further developing 
the idea. 

later on, with the beginning of the World War in 
1917, Dr. Rogers devoted all of his time to this sub- 
ject, for he readily understood that if his idea of 



6. 



underground antenna were practical, it could be used 
to great advantage in the trenches and dug-outs. 

In 1918 Dr. Rogers' efforts were Drought to the 
attention of the Nagy Department at Washington. He 
had a hut constructed in the woods near Hyatt svi lie 
where work could be carried on secretly. Antennae, 
radiating in all directions like the spokes of a wheel, 
were buried under the hut, and it was in this manner 
that the practicability of his idea was positively es- 
tablished. At the same time, Dr. Rogers conceived the 
idea that similar means of communication might be ex- 
tended to submarines while submerged, 

■Ippreciating the value of these theories, the Navy 
Department offered to send Dr. Rogers to Hew Orleans 
where his experiment s could be carried on in a more ex- 
tensive way. He was placed under a bond of secrecy, 
thus promising not to make application for any kind of 
patent pending. This he was only too glad to do. How- 
ever, Dr. Rogers, because of his health, was unable to 
go to Hew Orleans, but his assistant was sent with whom 
he endeavored to keep in communication. 

As matters developed, however, it appeared that the 
Navy Department withheld certain results of these ex- 
periments. Becoming disappointed with the lacteof coop- 




Dr. Rogers at his Transmitter 3 X R. 



8. 




eratlon on the part of these officials, Dr. Rogers 

vF 

successfully tested his ovm ideas by means fey an im- 
provised submarine. He at first 
planned to trail a wire behind , 
the submarine, but found this 
impractical because of the pro- 
peller. He then decided to run 
the wires out of the conning 
tower and oonnect them electri- 
cally with the ends of the hull, 
thus forming a loop with the 
submarine as one side. This 
proved to be a practical prop- 
osition. 

Dr. Rogers Ipril, 1929 
Ten days after the Navy Department released Dr. 
Rogers from his agreement of secrecy, he applied for 
letters patent on his submarine antenna. A patent was 
granted him, but later on the Commissioner of Patents 
recalled his patent in favor of two employees of the 
Bureau of Standards of the United States Government. 
The matter was appealed to the District Court of Ippeals 
and the decision was reversed in favor of Dr. Rogers, 
but on a later trial of the case in a Federal Court 
at Baltimore, the patent rights again were taken from 
the Hyattsville inventor. 



9. 



#■• 



This episode in Dr. Roger s f career is a tragic 
one. Vfter having spent thousands of dollars to assert 
a claim he considers just and right, he awakes today to 
find himself too impoverished to proceed further. He 
could have applied for letters patent during the early 
days of the War, hut refrained because the information 
might have been disseminated to the enemies of his 
Country. Nonetheless, the delay cost him the credit 
of his greatest achievement. 

After my interview with Dr. 
Rogers, I was accorded the oppor- 
tunity to visit his laboratory, 
which has fallen into disuse 
after two yeprs vacancy. Coils,, 
batteries, radio sets and vacuum 
tubes were strewn everywhere. 
The outer room was used as an 
office. The next room served 
as the work shop and pieces of 
electrical apparatus of every 
description were in evidence 
everywhere. In larp:e glass 

cases surrounding the room were models of his inven- 
tions, such as the printing telegraph, loop antenna, etc 
A well had been dug under the floor for the experi- 







^ill'B fi n 




Dr. Rogers' lab. 



10. 





Two Interior Views of the Laboratory 



ments in connection with the improvised submarine. 
In another room, adjoining the work shop, was 
the famous radio broadcasting station "5 X R" , which 
Dr. Rogers equipped himself and sent messages that 
were heard from the Atlantic- to the Pacific and in 
France, England and Germany. Dr. Rogers was able to 
receive messages as well as send them and during the 
World War listened regularly to the official reports 
broadcast to the German submarines by the Home Office. 
The underground aerial is used exclusively at Station 
"3 X R." 



The second floor of the laboratory is equipped with 
storage "batteries representing approximately 2,000 volts 
purchased by Dr. Rogers to increase the power of his 
Station, but which remain unused on account of his ill- 
ness. 

Upon leaving the home and laboratory of Dr. Rogers, 
I thought how well the life of this gentleman is por- 
trayed in the poem by Emily E. Lantz, which she dedi- 
cated to him on his 74th birthday anniversary, July 
13. 1924— 



t 



This man, endowed with God- sent gifts, 
Looks to the sun, yet knows no fears; 

For to his listening. ear there comes 
The sweet music of the spheres. 

His insight grasps God's mighty laws 
&&&. bids them serve by sea and land; 

While in a nation's crucial hour 
His knowledge balked an armed hand. 

Humble, devout, humane, sincere, 

Serene he treads earth's common sod; 

Yet those who pass him often feel 
He walks apart with God. 



12. 



Copy of Patent of Dr. Rogers* Wireless 
Signaling System 



1,303,729. 



J. H, ROGERS, 
WtREUSS SIGNALING SVSTtM. 
APPLICATION FILED JAN. 10, 1 B I ». 



Patented May 13, 1919. 



JF^Og.^Z. 








J&$f&. 



MVAA 




so 



Si 



3*MW*ttot 



& H 






£U<to*f4«.<4 



13. 

UNITED STATES PATENT OFFICE. 



JAMES HARRIS ROGBES, OF HYATTSVILLE, KA3YLANB. 
WIRELESS SIGNALING SYSTEM. 



1,303,729. specification of Letters Patent. Patented May 13, 1919. 

Application filed January 10, 1919. Serial No. 270.558. 

To all whom it may concern: 20 is n' source of currant, -21 ii key, anil -'-J a 

Be it known that I, James Harris Rogers, spark gap in an oscillating clreiitl which 

a citizen of the United States, residing at includes winding l."i of the coupling. This 

Hyattsville, in the county of Prince Georges sending apparatus is of course mi the vessel, 60 
6 and State of Maryland, have invented new Any desired electromagnetic wave signal 

and useful Improvements in Wireless Big- instruments may he employed, ihose shown 

naling Systems, of which the following is a being merely illustrative, 
specification. From the foregoing it will he seen that the 

My invention relates to radio signaling, radio conductor constitutes with (he etectri- 85 

10 and has for its object the provision of an cal connection through the ve--.el a loop 

improved system for use in connection with oscillating circuit which will oscillate in re 

vessels, particularly submarines. spon.se to electromagnetic waves lieinj! re- 

The invention comprises the employment ceived, or set up by the sending instruments, 

of an insulated radio conductor or antenna A suitable tuning condenser •!'.' i- provided 70 

16 suitably, mounted upon the submarine but to tune this oscillating circuit to the proper 

insulated therefrom except at the outer ends frequency. It will also he observed that the 

where it is in electrical connection with the radio conductor is carefully insulated 

metallic body of the vessel. Electromag- throughout it- length hetwecu its ends, so 

netic wave sending and receiving instru- thai if cannot make electrical connection 75 

20 ments ara arranged to be associated with the «ith the vessel, or the water when the sub 

said conductor at a point intermediate its marine is submerged. 

ends, in any suitable, manner. While I have described a specific cmhodi- 

The invention consists in the novel system, men t of the invention, this is only l»j way 

and arrangement of apparatus and circuits of illustration, and it will he understood 80 

25 hereinafter described and claimed, and that iiiodiftcat ions may he made without de- 
shown in the accompanying drawings, in parting from the invention. For instance, 
which drawings — the electrical connect inn between the ends 
Figure 1 shows a submarine vessel of the radio conductor ma> I" made by a 
equipped with the invention, a portion of metallic conductor other than the hull of 85 

30 the vessel being in section, and the wireless the ves 
apparatus and circuits for receiving I claim: 

sages being diagrammatic; 1. The combination with a vessel, of a 

Fig. 2 is a diagrammatic view of conven- radio conductor extending longitudinally 

tional sending apparatus and circuits for thereof bill insulated therefrom and from 90 

86 use with the system of Fig. 1 for the purpose the water except al its cods which make 

of sending signals. electrical connection h itli the vessel, an eleo- 

Referring to the drawings, 10 indicates trical connect! -ecu said ends of the 

the metallic hull of a submarine vessel, radio conductor tl :_ r li said vessel, and 

which may be. of any typo or construction, electromagnetic signaling instruments asso- 06 

40 11, .11' indicate an insulated radio conductor (tinted with said radio conductor at a point. 

mounted as to be electrically insulated betwei mis. 

from the vessel and the water except at -\ The. combination with a submarine ves- 

outer ends where the port ion 11 is connected set having a metallic hull, of an insulated 

at 1% to the bow of the hull and portion II' radio conductor extending longitudinally loo 

46 is connected at 13 to the stern of the hull. thereof and connected electrically at its ends 

Associated with the radio conductor, with said hull, whereby a loop oscillating 

preferably at some point between its ends, circuit is provided, and electromagnetic, 

arc electromagnetic signal instruments. A>. signaling instruments associated with said 

shown conventionally, receiver 14 is in cir- looped oscillating circuit. 105 

60 cnit with winding 15 of ari inductive cou- 8. The combination with a submarine ves- 

pling of which the other winding 16 is eon- scl Inning a metallic bull, of an insulated 

nected to the radio conductor 11, 11'. 17 is radio conductor extending longitudinally 

the usual detector, which may be an audion, thereof and connected electrically al its ends 

and IB and 19 are the usual condom with said hull, whereby a loop oscillating no 

65 Sending instruments and ci q use circuil is provided, a tuning condenser in 

with the system are shown in Fig. -j,. whi rein said oscillating circuit, and electromagnetic 



14. 



NO TE Most of the material used in this Thesis was 
obtained directly from Dr. Rogers himself. Other 
sources of information were: Two scrap hooks of 
Dr. Rogers, one in his possession, and the other in 
the library of Georgetown UniTersity; Patent Office 
Records; "Who's Who in America," and a thesis pre- 
pared by B. Ellesmere McKeige called "The Electrical 
Inventions of Dr. James Harris Rogers of Hyatts- 
v ills . " 






THE EVENING 



MARYLAND SCIENTIST 
WHO DIED SUDDENLY 



A 
L 



Gi 




DR. JAMES BARKIS ROGERS 



DR, JAMES H. ROGERS, 
INVENTOR, SUCCUMBS 

Hyattsville Scientist, 79, Dies 

At His Residence, Firwood, 

From Heart Attack 



[Continued From Page 1] 

radio the Maryland Academy of Sci- 
ences made Dr. Rogers an honorary 
fellow and awarded hity the Inventor's 
Medal, The Maryland Legislature in 
1019 extended him thanks for distin- 
guished contributions to scienee. 

As a result of his research work, 
Dr, Rogers was awarded about sixty 
patents relating to multiplex and rapid 
printing telegraphy, electric lights, the 
telephone and radio telegraphy. 
Early Inventions Sold 

He was the chief electrician at the 
Capitol in Washington from 1877 to 
1SS3. Some of hie early inventions in- 
cluded a telephone repeater, and were 
sold to a syndicate which formed a 
$15,000,000 company to produce and 
market them. 

His patents included cylindrical .-.«. 
toaiatic telegraphy, improved electric 
light, central telephone system, dup- 
lex and quadruples telegraph, the 
thermptele meter, insulated submarine 
cable, visual synchronysm, automatic 
synchorism, apparatus for producing 
bigb-frequentey -oscillating current and 
the undergroun and underwater tele- 
graph. 



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DR, JAMES H.ROGERS, 
INVEN TOR, SUCC UMBS 

Hyattsville Scientist, 79, Dies 

At His Residence, Firwood, 

From Heart Attack 



TAKEN ILL AFTER RETIRING 



Was Pioneer In Underground 

And Underwater Radio 

Communication 



[Speetol Dhpiiich tr> The Evening Sun] 

Hyattsville, Md., Dec. 12— Dr. 
James Harris Rogers, inventor and 
pioneer in underground and under- 
water radio communication, died sud- 
denly early today at his home, Ifir- 
iyi-'.-'iI, from a heart attack. 

The scientist, who was TO years old, 
was apparently in good health* last 
night when he entertained members of 
his family. He became ill after he re- 
tired and died shortly after Dr. 
Thomas K. Latimer arrived. 

Experimented During War 

During the World War Dr. Rogers 
constructed a dugout near his home, 
where he demonstrated the value of un- 
derground radio. In a small lake near 
by he made experiments In underwater 
communication, later demonstrating his 
discoveries in salt water at Piney Point, 
Maryland. 

Dr. Rogers offered (he results of his 
research and experiments to the Gov- 
ernment at the outbreak of the war. 
During the conflict the United States 
was able to carry on uninterrupted com- 
munication with the Allied govern- 
ments, with submarines when sub- 
merged and with battleships and air- 
planes by means of principals devel- 
oped. 
Father Was In Confederate Army 

Dr. Latimer said that the long hours 
that Dr. Rogers worked in the dugout 
during 1017 brought on carbon mon- 
oxide poisoning which left the inven- 
tor in a weakened condition. 

Dr. Rogers was a son of James 
Webb and Cornelia R. Rogers, and 
was born in Pranklyn, Tenn. His 
father served in the Confederate Army 
and later settled near Bladensburg, 
where the Rogers home, the Parthe- 
non, is one of the historic spots. Dr. 
Rogers lived at the family home until 
about thirty years ago, when he moved 
to Firwood. He never married. 

Studied In London College 
The inventor was educated by pri- 
vate tutors and at St. Charles College, 
London, England. He received degrees 
of doctor of science from the George- 
town University and the University of 
Maryland in 3910, 
For his work in the development of 

Continued Or> Page 2,Colunm 3] 



l—p\{ 



Section 1—PAGE 9 

Apparatus 
"For Exhibit 

J. Harris Rogers Collec- 
tion Is Offered To 
Smithsonian Institute 
For Museum 



ANTIQUATED radio apparatus 
some of which is valuable and 
some of which is worthless, has been 
pouring into the hands of vaT-ious 
governmental agencies sincu the an- 
nouncement several weeks ago that a 
survey is under way to establish a 
radio museum in the Smithsonian In- 
stitution. 

Probably one of the most valuable 
collections offered is that of the late • 
-T, Harris Rogers, radio inventor, o[ 
Ilyatlsviile. Rogers is (ted i ted with 
discovering an underground and un- 
derwater radio transmission, which . 
was used by the navy during the 
World War but later abandoned. The 
inventor believed that it would de- , . 
crease intevferonee. 

The Rogers laboratory also contains • 
two machines used in visual synchro- 
nism, which technical men call hia 
most wonderful Invention because tit 
its value in television. The offer w:itf' " 
ai«de to W. D, Terrell, chief of the" 
radio division of the Depart men: ol 
Commerce, by James C. Rogers, 
brother of the inventor. 

All such donations will be cata- 
logued for th<! present before any defi- 
nite selections are made for the mu. 
seum. 



i.Kisofk^it 



i. i,i:is(jfr\R sbriks 

Charles Fleischer/ the noted writer,