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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 70.djvu/328

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

another way this unexpectedly rapid growth was depressing in character, because it had not been anticipated and consequently the plant had not been constructed on corresponding lines. Where the investment was not of a speculative nature, but made on a permanent basis, the owners soon realized that they had not been just to themselves nor to the public in building so cheaply and so sparingly. Again, the funds necessary to meet these constantly changing conditions were not readily forthcoming, for not one in ten of the pioneer organizations earned dividends prior to 1882.

In 1880, the parent Bell company gave this sensible advice to its operating companies:

Don't expect people to 'study up' the instruments themselves, but have them explained politely and patiently. Some large exchanges publish a monthly pamphlet containing corrected lists of subscribers, new information, etc., and defray the whole or part of the expense of its publication by accepting advertisements for alternate pages. A pamphlet issued in this way costs little or nothing, and its monthly coming is appreciated by subscribers. Don't forget that the local papers are a valuable means of popularizing your business. Advertise in them as much as circumstances demand and warrant.

The parent company also stated that printed lists of subscribers should be prepared in 'form like a dancing programme.' Incidentally it may be added that current subscribers' directories in cities like Pittsburgh now weigh about three pounds each, while the directory used in New York City weighs nearly twice as much. The latter contains the names of more than three hundred thousand individuals or firms and about four hundred thousand copies of each issue are distributed. Owing to the frequent revision of Bell subscriber-lists these 'dancing-programmes' are admittedly the most reliable directories in the cities.

Although Graham Bell's hand telephone transmitted messages with remarkable clearness, even over long distances where no disturbing causes interfered, yet it did not possess sufficient power to satisfactorily serve under the varied conditions that developed as the scope of telephone service expanded in all directions. Even though there were no electric-light circuits and no trolley lines, the inductive effect and the zone of noise was always in evidence; for telegraph lines paralleled many telephone circuits and, as practically all lines were grounded, the effect of earth currents was often plainly perceptible. So sensitive was the telephone found to be, that scientists employed it in delicate researches to detect the flow of electrical currents so minute as to be inappreciable to all other instruments. And Graham Bell stated that in standing on a large board placed on his lawn, if a single spear of grass came in contact with his foot while experimenting with his telephone, the effect of ground currents was instantly perceptible, yet disappeared the moment the connection was broken between shoe and grass.