September 21, 2011

Wireless Telegraphy and the RMS Titanic

The RMS Titanic, as we all know, was seen as the foremost in ship-building technology when it launched in April of 1912.  Although much attention in the aftermath of the Titanic disaster focused on the failures of technology, The Day Book of Chicago, Illinois on April 17, 1912, two days after the Titanic sank, illustrates how another technological innovation of the day allowed for there to be any survivors at all.

Story in Picture of How Wireless Waked The Midnight Sea
Californian, Virginian, Prinz Frederick Wilhelm, Olympic
Prinz Adelbert, Baltic, Carpathia, Mauretania, Cincinati, Parisian

The Day Book, Chicago, IL - Apr 17, 1912

Although the steamer Titanic sank before help arrived, one of the most remarkable features of the disaster was how the great liner's dying call for help by wireless telegraphy awakened the midnight sea.  "S. O. S." (Send out Succor) flashed out over the silent wastes shortly before 11 o'clock.  Every few minutes the air waves carried "S. O. S." until 12: 17, when it stopped.  But in that hour and a half the cry for help was picked up by a dozen ships--ships that turned from their courses and sped under forced draught to the spot in the old ocean where grim tragedy was at work.  The picture illustrates how the sea responded.

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