Rare atlas of global telecommunications, issued on the day of the Trinity Test

Federal Communications Commission Engineering Department International Division, Maps of Radiotelegraph and Radiotelephone Circuits in Active Operation Between the United States and Territorial Possessions and Foreign Countries. [Washington, D.C.:] Federal Communications Commission, July 16, 1945.
Stapled pamphlet, 11”h x 8 ½”w. [9 maps],8,2pp. Blue paper cover with printed title (It is possible that there was originally a blue rear cover, now perished.) A hint of foxing, cover faded, signs of staple removal. Very good.

A rare atlas of global telecommunications links between the United States and the rest of the world, issued at the very end of the Second World War.

The Communications Act of 1934 codified the Federal Government’s power to regulate all wire-based and wireless communications and their corporate operators. Broadly speaking, the goals of the Act included the consumer-facing goals of universal access and lowering costs, while also strengthening government oversight of a sector vital to national defense. The Act also established the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and empowered it with the necessary regulatory powers.

The Act recognized American Telephone & Telegraph Co.’s monopoly on domestic telephone service, but left unaddressed the structure of the market for international telecommunications. For the United States this involved primarily radiotelephone and radiotelegraph service, i.e., voice and telegraph service transmitted by radio rather than over fixed cables This market was badly fragmented, and for years the FCC pushed for its consolidation. In the Spring of 1945, as the war in Europe was winding down, a subcommittee of the Senate’s Committee on Interstate Commerce held hearings on the subject.

The FCC presented the Committee with a number of cartographic exhibits, including a group of nine “Maps of Radiotelegraph and Radiotelephone Circuits in Active Operation Between the United States and Territorial Possessions and Foreign Countries.” Offered here is a reissue by the FCC of the maps in the form of a small atlas with an index, all updated to July 16,1945—the date, incidentally, of the Trinity Test of the first atom bomb.

Using an identical base map of the world, the maps depict in turn the radiotelegraph circuits operated by RCA, Mackay Radio Telegraph Co., Tropical Radio Telegraph Co., Globe Wireless Ltd., United States-Liberia Radio Corp., South Porto Rico Sugar Co., Press Wireless Inc., and the radiotelephone circuits operated by American Telephone & Telegraph Co. (AT&T) and the Radio Corporation of Porto Rico. The message of the maps appears to be that while the radiotelephone market was already largely consolidated under AT&T—the exception being a single circuit operated by the Radio Corporation of Porto Rico–that for radiotelegraph was badly fragmented among both major and minor players.

OCLC #1088718713 (Library of Congress only).