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tv   The Communicators  CSPAN  September 10, 2016 6:30pm-7:01pm EDT

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impacts of studying abroad. go to book >> our topic this week is this book, the network, the battle for the airwaves and the root of the communication stage. woolley.r is scott looking back 100 years ago, what was considered high-tech then? wireless age had been around for about a decade and a half, but there was really only one at, which was texting. 4 am radio as we know it, there was the wireless telegraph. it had been around, but it struggled to make itself proven as a wireless technology, with the exception of the sinking of the titanic in 1912. that is what really brought
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wireless technology to the public conscious -- consciousness, and made people realize this is a very important technology, not just a parlor. what is the sinking of the technology in 1912 have to do with wireless technology and its development? scott: it helps save the marconi company. there were 100 wireless technology companies that sprang up. the marconi wireless telegraph , wasny, 100 years ago through the dominant wireless company. even it had not been successful. they tried to make a business of sending messages across the atlantic. they never succeeded, and have gone along by sending essentially little text messages to and from the various shirts -- ships across the ocean. there were two marconi operators on the titanic.
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they were able to send a message. it really changed wireless in the public consciousness from this tool to this critically important part of maritime safety. who was marconi, and where was he on the data titanic sank? scott: you have been booked to travel of the titanic on its maiden voyage, but he moved up travel plans to go to new york because he needed to convince american investors to keep pouring money into his wireless telegraph company that had lost money for over a decade, and was still struggling to send messages across the atlantic. he had just shown up in new york. it was just a few days before his shareholders meeting that he is going to make a pitch for another $7 million. a few days before that the
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titanic sank, and he went from being seen as a shady conmen stock promoter, to being an international bureau. the only good thing that came out of the titanic was the story of how marconi operator helped save 700 people. peter: how were messages getting from europe to the u.s. prior to mr. marconi's wireless technology? there were a couple years. it used to be male travel that carried in ships starting in the 1860's. then marconi claimed in 1901 famously to have sent the first wireless text message across the atlantic. and mydoubt on that book. it is indisputably true that the transatlantic telegraph market was dominated by the cables, up until the end of world war ii. peter: where students are now begin in this story?
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scott: he shows up in manhattan in 1900 and eight penniless russian immigrant. five years later he gets his first job at one of the big cable companies. he is fired a few weeks into his offfor taking rosh hashanah . he gets a job at the only communications company that will hire, the marconi company. as a 16-year-old, he gets a century as an messenger boy for the marconi company. he essentially stays at that company and its successors in that industry for the next years. peter: are there parallels to that time, and to today the development of silicon valley? scott: the most fascinating thing about david sarnoff in this is the believe he had in the potential of wireless technology. if you look at what is happening today with the latest wireless technology that is coming out,
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and people are talking about millimeterwave technology and the crazy things we will be able to do the next generation of smart, this would be unsurprising to david sarnoff, who always believed the next generation of wireless technology, which shadows, every one thing tofrom another, people think that is it. , "i'm not very interested in the past. i'm barely interested in the present. what i really care about is the future." he only had an unshakable optimism about the future to do. peter: do you consider him a visionary? scott: he was. as a technology visionary, i would argue he is a much unequaled, in terms of the number of things he said. as a flawed human being, but as a technology visionary, unmatched. peter: where did he end up? scott: from the marconi company,
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he worked his way up to be the general manager of the american company. after world war i, they do know when a british company owning the important wireless technology communications company after the war. that is how the radio corporation of america was formed. its name says it all. they wanted an american corporation running radio. david sarnoff took over, first as the general manager of that, worked his way president, and by the early 30's, was running rca. he was essentially the biggest, most powerful media local of the mid-20th century. peter: to go back to the technology, who was edwin armstrong, and what was his role in making this so successful? scott: he was a good friend of
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david sarnoff, starting in their 20's. " born around the same time, 1890, 1891, three months apart. fascinated by up wireless technology, like a lot of kids in the beginning of the 20th century. this amazing ability to send thoughts and dashes through the air. sarnof in this amazing momentf when armstrong claims to have invented an amplifier that didn't take faded wireless signals and magnify them without increasing the noise and the static. everybody thought this was impossible, but david sarnoff, ever the optimist, teamed up with armstrong. upy hook this up with fire to the marconi company wireless telegraph antennas in 1914, and
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all of a sudden they are nearing messages from around the world. those two, for the first time, see the power of what inventions like armstrongs can do to vastly multiply the power and the communications through the airwaves. what was mr. armstrongs trajectory careerwise and likewise? inventor,was as an unparalleled. to wireless inventions, he certainly was in the first half of the 20th century after this amplifier. he went on to invent a couple other critical components of am radio that made consumer am radio possible in the mid-20's. in 1933, he patents fm radio. he comes as close to being the sole creator of fm radio as you're ever going to find area there were other people who contributed, but he was a remarkably prolific inventor over a 20 year.
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four don't we know his name like we do david sarnoff or thomas edison -- why don't we know his name like we do david sarnoff or thomas edison? scott: large part of it is the way he spent the second half of his career, which was fighting over invention security discovered is that of continuing to invent. -- key invention in 1940 was basically replaced by the transistor in 1948. that created the computer age. his invention was the core of electronics in the first half of the 20th century, but by the time people were researching the transistor, he was spending his time in court, fighting over credit for his previous inventions. he made things personal. he let that consume his life, leading to the story i open the book with, which is him and his
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penthouse apartment, contemplating killing himself, in his all the success life. still he feels like he has been treated so unjustly, he is going to jump out of his penthouse. the last half of his life really tarnished his legacy. it shouldn't tarnish his technical legacy, but tarnished his personal legacy. peter: when you look back, did david sarnoff playfair with edwin armstrong? scott: he played tough, but fair. that is a great question. get into discussions about who deserves credit for a.m. radio, or who deserves credit for fm radio and the patents, there were thousands of patents that went into the patent pool of a.m. radio. who invented a.m. radio? armstrong was responsible for a
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couple of the most important parts of am radio, and became fabulously rich as a result. when it came to fm radio, he wanted to basically patent royalties that were in excess of what sarnoff wanted to pay. who is right? it's a hard question. i think armstrong was probably asking for too much, and sarnoff was willing to give too little. ofstrong was incapable treating that is a business look up she should. he thought sarnoff betrayed him. what he treated fairly? i think he was treated in a businesslike fashion, but it was tough. sarnoff was not the sort, just because they were friends, who would roll over. peter: what is the technical difference between a.m. and fm radio. this was armstrong's
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great insight. all of wireless communication, you are trying to imprint information on to electromagnetic waves. send those ways to a distant location, and decode that information back into maybe a text message or a phone call. radio, everybody have been trying to encode the human voice into a single airwaves. come as close as possible to using a one air airwaves, essentially. armstrong creates the broadband , by having the idea to use lots of airwaves at once. transmit over a wide spectrum of the quincy's essentially, using a lot of airwaves at once, as opposed to one. it can get more technical than his, but that was basically breakthrough. the old idea was there was no advantage to be gained in this. using wider bands
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of frequency to transmit something as simple as the human voice. he was proven correct. peter: was there a business argument against fm radio? scott: there was from the local am radio stations, who really didn't like it and sell themselves being supplanted by superior technology. most places when a superior technology comes along, you have to kind of look at what you have invested in the old one, and is the improvement ports changing the whole system? in the case of it really was over time. there was no question that it should be done, and that fm was the better technology. peter: when you talk about david
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sarnoff, you use the term television harry -- televisio nary? what does that mean? .cott: it started as an insult the traditional view of david sarnoff has not been positive. he really treated an inventor of a key piece of technological television technology unfairly. televisionary wrap when it first was labeled on david sarnoff says a lot. this happened in the late 20's. he was still one dozen years using a real technology. the great depression starts, and he doesn't that pouring money into it. he lives all of rockefeller center with two sets of wires. untilsion does not start after world war two.
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he was really pushing it. after television succeeds, what happened in that television harry becomes a compliment. the amount of heat that sarnoff took for it, for his support of television and television research in the early 30's, disproves this notion that he wanted to steal other people's ideas. he ported town of his own money into it. peter: the title of your book is, "the network." it's a term we still use today. who first used it? scott: i don't what to claim that i know what the original source of it was. it is true that the original in terms of modern communication, there was the telegraph network, the telephone network. radio networks grew up. they were originally called radio chains. the first report on radio networks was called the report on chain broadcasting by the fcc in the early 30's.
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the notion of the radio network as the successor to both the telegraph and the telephone network started to occur in the 30's. in the 40's, people started to refer to the big networks. by the time tv came along, nbc and cbs were big radio networks. when was the fcc developed, and how did it change during this period of changing technology? scott: that's a great question with a fascinating answer. i did not intend to write an incompetence fcc's in the 20th century, but i sort of ended up doing it. the 34created by communications act. ofwas given charge regulating both radio and the telephone network when it came
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along. have antitrustto thercement, and communications act says nothing about it having a role in antitrust. it ended up putting that role on itself. there was a famous case, nbc versus the united states in 1943 , when the supreme court says although the fcc was not created to enforce the antitrust laws, a treated you so. i am summarizing. very interesting -- when you look at what the fcc does today and 2016, and the arguments we are having about what it should and shouldn't do, it is interesting to back to its creation that it was not created to serve this role. there is a strong case event how ineffectively and incompetently it tried to improve the
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competitive environment in communications in the 20th century. it is an agency that was never designed for these sorts of purposes, and it has done a reliably poor job over the decades. to 1934, would it be safe to say that communications technology was the wild wild west? scott: absolutely. people didn't understand it. the idea that you could make money in radio and owning a radio station might be a lucrative enterprise was not a totally crazy idea anymore, but certainly by the late 30's, people have come to see that this was a big business and a business you could make a ton of money and bible owning a local radio station. when television came along, it was really the wild west as people have a sense of how big tv could be and how big owning a local tv franchise could be.
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the wild west is a good metaphor because it was completely open territory. all of a sudden this incredibly valuable territory was thrown open, first in the radio airwaves, then in the television airwaves. peter: you write in your bio that the book idea for the network grew out of your interest in the growing value of the airwaves, and how horrifically mismanaged they are. scott: that's true. i was at forbes magazine for a 1996-2000 from about 10, covering telecommunications. i got to learn about beer waves. i didn't really know much about them when i started, like i think most people. if you cover the telephone communications industry, it is impossible to not notice how important these things are. verizon's sheet
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today, their airwaves are worth $81 billion. all the rest of their physical isworks, all the rest of it not worth that much. the vast majority of value in telecommunications networks today is often in these scarce airwaves rights. understanding goes and the people that have tried to control them and manipulate them for their own purposes was obviously important, and because of the slippery nature of these things, the invisible nature, the intangible nature of the airwaves, when you are looking to fund a corrupt scheme, it is good you something that is incredibly valuable, and most people don't really understand. peter: would it be fair to say -- or washington insiders, were able to profit from this new technology? scott: it would be unfair to say anything else because the saysol in the 34 act
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specifically that the airwaves are property of the american people and the government, and they will be loaned out at no charge. those rights releases convey no other right. as a result, as the value of these licenses when that act was -- a radio station licenses for something in new york, but it wasn't that big a business. as the value of these licenses explode, all of a sudden, the fcc is charged with giving away legal rights that at no cost will immediately be worth millions, if not hundreds of millions of dollars over time. it was an inevitable source of corruption. thats too much to think political insiders would not figure out ways to manipulate the fcc when it was just giving away money. book, despiteur
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his many imitators, no lawmaker had ever come close to matching the scale of lyndon johnson's broadcasting ambition. what is that story? scott: lbj, and much of the ,tory has been told before unlike other pieces of the book that are based on more original resources. i want to give credit to people like robert caro, and others. put together a broadcasting empire based on his political influence at the fcc. anfirst got his wife to own a.m. radio station, and as soon as she purchased it, all of a sudden, they had only been allowed to broadcast during the daytime hours, then they were allowed to broadcast 24 hours a day. was -- thedden, it
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power limit was increased so they could reach dozens of more counties. the value of it is broadcasting empire as he added on. the fcc happened to give him the only television station in austin, even though other cities of similar size got multiple stations. not only did he get one of the vhf stations, it was the only one. over and over again, everything broke his way. in the end, he had a broadcasting empire worth, depending on your estimates, in the $10 million range. nothing, from an original $25,000 investment. is the starkest example of political corruption involving the airwaves. he turned political influence into a personal fortune by manipulating the rules governing the public airwaves. sarnoff,ck to david the 1960's, and the term laser
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bike. a great one from sarnoff. it shows how he was the guy who understood technology, but he was a guy who understood real people. what we call laser pipes now is fiber-optic cable. those are glass cables that essentially have lasers on one end to shoot information through them. he got the laser pipes, which is more descriptive and more fun. i don't know why it ever changed. he had this vision in 19 it 66 -- 1966, long before the internet as we know it, long before fiber-optic technology was recognized as important. he had his vision from talks with his researchers that laser pipes combined with computers was going to create a global information network. he went on in 1965 if an incredibly detailed picture of the way the internet would come optics,sed on fiber
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based on increased computer power, and based on a notion that all forms of communication would collapse into a single network. this sort of prediction in 1965, at the age of 75 is the greatest testament -- this prediction of his often lost in history, but i think it is the clearest proof of his talent as a technical -- or a technological profit. to go from foreseeing the advent of a.m. radio to go all the way -- predictinging the formation of the internet, and most major technological improvements in between, that is a career no one will ever match. to 1914, belmar, new jersey. can you draw a direct line between what happened there and
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today's silicon valley? scott: yes. it is basically a technical answer, so i will try to fit short. that to that armstrong invented stepasically the biggest in controlling electrons and creating electronics. if you look at all the work electronics, if you look at the electronics that helped the allies win the war, essentially all of it was built upon those vacuum tubes that armstrong did more than anybody to create. tool was placed by the transistor by computer chip. the thing that didn't change was the rate of improvement. when you look at the advance from wireless texting and wireless telegraph to the ,ireless telephone, to radio
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you can go through the entire 20th century, and then you come to today, and the progress we have seen with the cell phones we have in our pockets today, versus the cell phones that we had -- or didn't have 20 years ago, or 10 years ago, and you look at the rate of wireless progress, you see it is not so amazing. we are amazed by how it has changed our lives, but if you look at the last 100 years and the rate of improvement since armstrong created that first amplifier, it has not changed. woolley is the author of this book. thank you for being our guest. scott: thank you for having me. >> earlier this afternoon, but as presidential candidate mike pence made a surprise visit to the pentagon to commemorate the .eptember 11 attacks
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the republican nominee spent half an hour during an unannounced visit to the 9/11 memorial, accompanied by his wife karen. they laid a bouquet of white roses in honor of an army lieutenant and indiana native died in the attack. tomorrow being the 15th anniversary of the september 11, 2001 terror attack, we take you to new york city for the ceremony at the national september 11 memorial. we will also be at the september 11 memorial service at the pentagon, with remarks by president obama, and in shanksville, pennsylvania for the 9/11 observance at the flight 93 national memorial. join us tomorrow for live coverage of the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks here on c-span. on monday, the migration policy institute hosts its annual immigration and policy conference with legal analysis on some of the key immigration issues facing the incoming
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administration and congress. watch that starting at 9:00 a.m. eastern on our companion network, c-span2. later monday, the house oversight committee looks into the fbi's investigation of hillary clinton's use of a private e-mail server. representatives from the justice department and the fbi are expected to testify. watch that live at 5:00 p.m. eastern time, monday on c-span3. director of national intelligence james clapper spoke at an intelligent and national security summit, discussing the role of the intelligence community during presidential transition. he also provided some insight on the intelligence briefings being provided to hillary clinton and donald trump. he discussed cyber security, combating isis, classified information roles, and intelligence sharing. this is one hour.
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>> good morning, everyone. i will tell you, it's a little tough to hear backstage, but i did hear hokey football. come on, let's go! we've got a few in the crowd there. a big thank you to maureen and scott. i will tell you, i and delighted to be here today and i am so pleased to see the partnership continue to grow. .t really is thriving the summit offers a great service to the intelligence community, to our industry partners, the press, and, of course, the public. like this play an important role in fostering a dialogue, so i want to


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