Highfields Amateur Radio Club
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John Stone Stone
John Stone Stone.
1869 - 1943.

No I haven't made a recurring mistake with the name, read on and find out why!

John Stone Stone was born on 24 September 1869, in Manakin village, Dover, Virginia, USA.

His father was General Charles Pomeroy Stone, an American Union army General in the Civil War, who was an engineer. His mother was Jeannie (née Stone). It is possible (though not verified) that Johns' parents were distant cousins. The custom among their class, at the time, of having the son take the mothers' maiden name as a middle name led to his interesting appellation, which gives spell checkers, search engines etc. a run for their money!

The family moved around quite a bit while John was still young. General Stone had accepted the position of Chief of Staff for the Khedive of Egypt and the family travelled through many countries bordering on the Mediterranean during Johns' childhood, returning to America in 1882, aged 13. Because of this early adventure John was fluent in Arabic, French and English and his father had also tutored him in mathematics. On the familys' return to the United States John attended Columbia School of Mines and Johns Hopkins University, graduating in 1890.

John began his engineering career in 1890 as an experimentalist in the American Bell Telephone Company (Bell) laboratory in Boston, Massachusetts, where his exceptional ability in mathematical analysis came inmost useful.

John left Bell in 1899, but while he was there he invented the "Stone Common Battery System" and assisted in developing the carrier current system of transmission over wires and methods of uniformly loading telephone cables with uniformly spaced inductance coils.

After leaving Bell, John spent some time as special lecturer on electrical oscillations at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He also became interested in radio at this time as he set himself up as a consultant. His first client was Herman W Ladd, who had developed a method of radio direction finding based on a cylindrical metal screen around a vertical receiving antenna. The screen had an up-and-down slit through which electric waves were supposed to strike the antenna as the screen rotated. John set up two stations to test the apperatus and, while working on it, he became so interested in wireless telegraphy that before long he had taken it up as his major effort. It became more and more evident to John that the wireless needed sharper tuning. This, and his practical work with Ladds' apparatus, finally brought him into wireless telegraph experimentation, and in the summer of 1899, he conceived a system of selective wireless communication. John applied for a patent on tuning on February 8, 1900, and it was granted on February 2, 1902 (No. 714,756). This was a year and a half before the grant of Marconis' American patent No. 763,772 on tuning. Stone's arrangement featured a four circuit wireless telegraph apparatus substantially like that later specified and patented in America by Marconi, who had previously been granted an equivalent British patent, the famous No. 7,777.

Johns' patent described adjustable tuning, by means of a variable inductance, of the closed circuits of both transmitter and receiver. It also recommended that the two antenna circuits be so constructed as to be resonant to the same frequencies as the closed circuits. John made it clear that he had found it was possible not only to originate high frequency oscillations in a circuit, and to determine their frequency by proper choice of capacity and self inductance in the circuit, but also to transfer those oscillations to another circuit and retain their original frequency. In those days, spark transmitters were closely coupled, and hence were broadly tuned so that overlapping of waves caused interference. At the transmitter, John took advantage of loose (or close) coupling, bringing about the emission of a single, sharply defined wave. The use of loading coils as swamping inductances was also a feature of his system. His receivers likewise embodied the same loose coupling, and included an intermediate filter circuit, which greatly enhanced selectivity.

To make these ideas and developments available as apparatus, John formed the Stone Wireless Telegraph Syndicate in 1901, which was followed by the Stone Telegraph & Telephone Co. in 1902. John was the director, vice-president and chief engineer of the newly incorporated Stone Telegraph & Telephone Co., which was created, among other things, to build transmitting stations for the U.S. Navy.

From 1908 to 1910 John served as president and chief engineer of Stone Telegraph & Telephone Co., then turned to consulting and acting as an expert witness in patent cases.John became associated with the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T) as "associate engineer at large" of the research and development department in 1920 and remained in that position until 1935.

A historic day in Johns' life was in the autumn of 1912, when Lee De Forest (assisted by his long standing friend John Stone Stone) demonstrated the audion as an audio amplifier to engineers of AT&T. They proved that although weak and imperfect, the audion was capable of amplifying speech.

John held over 100 US patents (many of them granted in 1904 & 1905 for applications dealing with "Space Telegraphy") during his lifetime, including one for a system of loosely coupled, tuned circuits for radio transmission and reception (1902), which was given priority over Marconis' similar system by a U.S. Supreme Court decision after Johns' death, and also held over 100 patents in other countries as well.

John also authored several important technical papers, including "The Practical Aspects of the Propagation of High Frequency Waves Along Wires" for which he was awarded the Franklin Institute Edward Longstreth Medal.

John was instrumental in the founding, in Boston, of the Society of Wireless Telegraph Engineers (SWTE) in 1907. He served as its president for 2 years, until 1909. That organisation originally provided a forum for the reading and discussion of technical papers for the staff of the Stone Telegraph & Telephone Co., but was then expanded to accommodate radio engineers in general. In 1912, SWTE merged with The Wireless Institute to form the Institute of Radio Engineers (IRE). John was a member of the board of directors of the IRE from 1912 to 1917, vice-president of the Institute in 1913 and 1914, and president in 1915.

John Stone Stone died on 20 May 1943 in San Diego, California, USA.

Some of Johns' honours and awards:

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