John Stone Stone: Wikis


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John Stone Stone

Born September 24, 1869(1869-09-24)
Died May 20, 1943 (aged 73)
Residence United States
Nationality American
Fields Electrical engineering
Notable awards IEEE Medal of Honor

John Stone Stone (September 24, 1869 – May 20, 1943) was an American mathematician, physicist and inventor. He labored as an early telephone engineer, was influential in developing wireless communication technology, and holds dozens of key patents in the field of "space telegraphy".




Early years

Stone was born in Manakin village, Virginia. The son of Charles Pomeroy Stone, the American Civil War general and engineer. His father fought in the war with Mexico and the civil war, being twice promoted for gallant conduct on the field of battle; was lieutenant-general in the Egyptian army; and hud charge of the department of public works of the kingdom of Egypt, as well as other high positions in that country. His American ancestry dates back to Deacon Gregory Stone and his wife Margaret Garrard, who came from Much Bromley, Essex, England, in 1634, and settled in Cambridge, Mass. Gregory Stone became one of the original proprietors of Watertown, and the line of descent is traced through John, Nathaniel, John, John and Alpheus Stone. John Stone Stone early displayed a fondness for the study of physics and chemistry.[1]

His childhood was passed largely in Egypt and Europe. Raised in Cairo, Egypt until 1882, Stone was fluent in Arabic, French, and English; his father tutored him in mathematics. Stone also learned to ride in Egypt and was an excellent horseman. On his family's return to the United States, Stone attended Columbia Prep, Columbia University, and Johns Hopkins University. Upon the return of his parents to the United States in 1885 he attended Columbia grammar school, New York.

Middle years

In the following years, he attended the school of mines of Columbia University and Johns Hopkins University. His studies were mathematics, physics, chemistry and electrical engineering, and his course at Johns Hopkins was practically a post-graduate course, though no actual degree was required for admission. He entered the laboratory of the American Bell Telephone Co. in Boston, in 1890, as an experimentalist, and afterward was retained as the company's expert. He was a professional consulting electrical engineer on his own account, during 1899-1902, after which he became vice-president and chief engineer of the Stone Telegraph and Telephone Co. and in 1908 became its president.

Telegraphy work

He was also special lecturer on electrical oscillations and their applications at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for a number of years. He has secured over 100 United States patents and a corresponding number in foreign countries, covering various inventions of telegraph and telephone devices and wireless telegraphy. These include an invention for centralizing the energy in telephone systems (1893) which came into very general use in the United States and abroad. In 1897 he received a patent for a method of increasing the efficiency of telephone lines by the increase of the inductance of the Une. This method was superseded by one patented by Prof. Pupin.[1]

Wireless work

In 1902-03 he obtained a group of patents covering a system of selective wireless telegraphy free from interference and in 1903 he received a patent covering the first application of the principles of electrical resonance to useful arts. The most important feature of the Stone system of wireless telegraphy is its selectivity and immunity from interference. The one great drawback to wireless telegraphy in the past was its uncertainty due to the interference by atmospheric electricity, as well as by the signals of nearby stations. Like the telephone in its early days, wireless telegraphy was operative only when outside conditions were favorable, and for that reason its use was restricted almost entirely to ships at sea and between ships at sea and the shore. The only efficient means of preventing such interference in the wireless telegraph is Mr. Stone's selective transmitter and receiver, which has been perfected to such a point that interference due to atmospheric electrical disturbances is almost wholly eliminated. With it 1,000 stations may be located within a radius of fifty miles from any city and intercommunicate with one another without mutual interference.[1]

Electromagnetic waves. (US patent 767,973)

After early research at American Telegraph & Telephone, Stone created his own company to build transmitting stations for the U.S. Navy. In 1907, Stone started in Boston the Society of Wireless Telegraph Engineers (SWTE). He won the Franklin Institute Edward Longstreth Medal in 1913. He invented the Stone common battery system and helped create the carrier current system of transmission. J. S. Stone's tuned circuits for radio transmitters and receivers had precedence over Guglielmo Marconi's similar system.

Other important inventions of his in wireless telegraphy are the "direction finder," an apparatus by means of which the wireless telegraph equipment of any vessel may be used to enable the navigator to determine the direction from which wireless telegraph signals are coming, thus locating the bearing or direction from his vessel of any wireless telegraph station on another ship or on shore and enabling him to determine his bearings in the thickest weather at a far greater distance than he could hear a fog signal or even see a light in clear weather,—it will indicate the direction or bearing of a wireless station twenty to seventy-five miles away, to within two-thirds of a point—a system by which the messages are automatically rendered secret or illegible except at the station at which they are intended to be received; and methods and apparatus for simultaneously transmitting and receiving wireless telegraph signals; relaying wireless telegraph messages; directing signals so thajt they shall not go out in all directions as they do at present, and for multiplex wireless telegraphy. These wireless telegraphy inventions were all owned and controlled by the Stone Telegraph and Telephone Co. He is also the inventor of a system of wireless telephony now used by the Radio Telephone Co. Mr. Stone was a member of the International Electrical Congress which met at St. Louis in 1904, at which he read a paper on "The Theory of Wireless Telegraphy."[1]

Later years

Once married and divorced, Stone died in San Diego, California May 20, 1943.

Other activities

Among his political and American activities, he was as a member of the American Defense Society's Board of Trustees. He was also a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; past president and vice-president of the Society of Wireless Telegraph Engineers; vice-president of the Wireless Telegraph Association of America; member of the American Electrochemical Society; Associate of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers; member of the Society of Arts of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; member of the Mathematical and Physical Club; the Alpha Delta Phi Fraternity,[2] the Johns Hopkins Alumni Association of New England and of the Aztec Club of 1847; the St. Botolph, Technology and Papyrus clubs of Boston, the National Arts Club of New York, and the Army and Navy, and Cosmos clubs of Washington, DC.[1]


  • Stone, J. S., "The Practical Aspects Of The Propagation Of High-frequency Electric Waves Along Wires". Journal Of The Franklin Institute. Vol. ClXXIV October, 1912 No. 4. Page 353.
  • Stone, J. S., "Theory of Wireless Telegraphy". Transactions of the 1904 Saint Louis International Electrical Congress, Volume III, pages 556-558.
  • Stone, J. S., "Maximum Current In The Secondary of a Transformer. Society of Wireless Telegraph Engineers held at Boston, Mass.[3]
  • Stone, J. S., "Interference In Wireless Telegraphy".[4]
  • Stone, J. S., "The Practical Aspects of the Propagation of High Frequency Waves Along Wires".
  • Stone, J. S., "The Periodicities and Damping Coefficients of Coupled Oscillators". Read before Soc. of Wireless Tel. Engrs. 2000 w. Elec Rev & W Elect'n—Dec. 3, 1910. No. 19098. (ed., Deduces expressions for the damping coefficients and periodicities of two coupled oscillators which will yield correct results in all practical cases.)
  • Stone, J. S., "Notes on the Oscillation Transformer". 1000 w. Elec Wld—Jan. 19, 1911. No. 20296. (ed., Mathematical determination of the constants of oscillation transformers used in wireless telegraphy.)
  • Stone, J. S., "The Resistance of the Spark and Its Effect on the Oscillations of Electrical Oscillators". (ed., Abstract of paper read before the Inst. of Radio Engrs.) (73) Sept. 18.)


See also

electromagnetic waves, mutual inductance, electrical resonance, resonant circuit, high frequency, alternating current, reactance
bolometer, Charles Pomeroy Stone, Lloyd Espenschied, Boston Navy Yard,U.S. Navy
spark gap transmitter, break key, wireless telegraph, loading coil, antenna (elevated conductor), resonant receiver
IEEE Medal of Honor

Further reading

  • Clark, G. H. (1946). The life of John Stone Stone, Mathematician, physicist, electrical engineer and great inventor. San Diego, Calif: Lithographed by Frye & Smith, ltd.
  • Dunlap, O. E. (1944). Radio's 100 men of science; Biographical narratives of pathfinders in electronics and television. New York: Harper & Bros.


General information
  1. ^ a b c d e National cyclopaedia of American biography. (1892).
  2. ^ Catalogue. (1899). Alpha Delta Phi. Page 641.
  3. ^ American Institute of Physics, American Physical Society, & Cornell University. (1893). Physical review. Lancaster, Pa. [etc.]: Published for the American Physical Society by the American Institute of Physics [etc.]. Page 398.
  4. ^ Canadian Society of Civil Engineers. (1887). Transactions of the Canadian Society of Civil Engineers. Montreal: Canadian Society of Civil Engineers. Page 164.


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