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Two-Way Communication

Cartwright, April 16. The Cartwright Corporation, manufacturer of electrical specialties, is reported on the brink of ruin today, after a disastrous plunge into the communications field. Word is that Cartwright research scientists had developed a new type of radio receiver, that the corporation backed it heavily, and that the equipment has now proved to have a fatal flaw. It is reported that Nelson Ravagger, the well-known corporation "raider," has now seized control of the company. Ravagger is expected to oust Cyrus Cartwright, II, grandson of the corporation's founder.


Nelson Ravagger ground his cigarette into the ultramodern ashtray and looked Cyrus Cartwright, II, in the eye.

"When," Ravagger demanded, "did it finally dawn on you that you had a mess on your hands?"

Cartwright glared at Ravagger. "When you walked in that door and told me you had control of the company."

Ravagger smiled. "I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about this Cartwright Mark I Communicator. That's the cause of this trouble."

Cartwright said uncomfortably, "Yes—the communicator."

Ravagger nodded. "I'm listening."

"It dawned on us we had a mess," said Cartwright, "when the Mark I receiver broadcast through the microphone of the local radio station. Up to that time, the thing looked perfect."

Ravagger frowned. "What was that again?"

"The Mark I receiver," said Cartwright patiently, "broadcast through the local radio station's microphone. That's when we knew we were in trouble."

"The receiver broadcast through the microphone of the transmitter?"

"That's it," said Cartwright.

Ravagger looked at him in amazement. "How did that happen?"

Cartwright spread his hands. "It's a new principle. The circuit isn't a regenerative circuit. It's not a tuned R-F circuit. It's not a superhet. It's a . . . ah—Well, they call it a Cartwright circuit."

"Did you invent it?"

"I don't know anything about it. I took the Business Course in college. You know, economics, mathematics of finance, and so on. Management is all the same after you get to the higher levels."

Ravagger smiled at him wolfishly. "Let's get back to this communicator. You don't know anything about it?"

"Not technically. I could see, from a business viewpoint, that it could be a very good thing for us."


"Well, we had been selling to manufacturers. Quality switches, circuit breakers, things like that. What we needed was a broad approach to the consumer himself. That's a much bigger and less demanding market."

Ravagger lit up another cigarette and studied Cartwright with a look of cynical disbelief. "In other words, the quality of your product had been falling off, and sales were going down, so you figured you better get into something else?"

Cartwright squirmed. "Well, competition was getting pretty stiff."

"So you decided to turn out this communicator. All right, what was it supposed to do?"


"It is an all-purpose communicator. You have AM, FM, shortwave, longwave—everything—all in one package."

Ravagger showed no enthusiasm. "In other words, a luxury receiver. I suppose it was portable?"

"Oh, yes." Cartwright got a little excited. "We were going to turn it out in a nice leather case, with three colors of trim."

"Naturally. And, of course, with an antenna you can pull out three feet long." He added sarcastically, "You were really going to skim the cream off the market with this thing. There must be a dozen different makes out right now."

Cartwright shrugged. "No antenna. It didn't need one. Besides, in a shirt-pocket radio, an antenna that pulls out seems to me to be a nuisance. If you've got to have it, then you're stuck with it, of course. But we were going to advertise that ours didn't need an external antenna."

Ravagger blinked. "Shirt-pocket size, eh? And it worked?"

"Except for the little shortcoming I just mentioned."

"This thing was to be called a Cartwright Mark I Communicator. Why not just Mark I radio, or receiver? Why communicator? Just because the name sounded good?"

"It sounded good to us at first. That was our original reason. Then we got a bright idea. Why not build it so it could really be a communicator? You know, two-way. Then we could turn out a citizen's band set, and a walkie-talkie. It could be everything. An all-purpose communicator. If it's broadcast, this could pick it up. Longwave, shortwave, amateur, police, the sound from TV programs, AM, FM, foreign, domestic—" Cartwright ran out of words, and took a deep breath. "It was an all-purpose, universal communicator that would—"

"Wait a minute." Ravagger was staring at him. "All this in a shirt-pocket radio?"

"Yes. Oh, there's no problem there. It's just a question of building it differently. If you consider it, it's obvious that eventually we'll have sets as small as that on the consumer market. Take a look inside the average portable receiver these days. Compare it with the size of the sets ten years ago, twenty years ago, thirty years ago. We're moving toward very small sets. We—here at Cartwright, I mean—happened to get the principle for the next advance first, that's all. Now, to make a transmitter is admittedly more of a size problem, even with our new manufacturing process. But there was enough room in the case, and it could be done. So we thought, why not do it?"

"All right," said Ravagger, scowling. "Now, if I understand this correctly, what you're saying is that you had a shirt-pocket set that could receive AM, FM, and shortwave broadcasts, could transmit and receive on citizen's band, and—"

"No. It had the potentiality, if we chose to make the necessary connections, to use citizen's band. But we'd have to make connections to the right points on the unit crystal. This initial set was to be purely a receiver. Later, we'd bring out the Mark II, Mark III, and so on, which would be transmitter-receivers. And still shirt-pocket size. The point was, that for a few thousand bucks more on the fabricating equipment, and a few cents more on each unit crystal, we could have the potential to raise the price twenty to forty dollars a set later on, and still give the customer a break."

Ravagger frowned at him. "What's this 'unit crystal'?"


Cartwright pulled open a drawer on his modernistic desk, and took out a small portable radio in dark-blue leather with gold trim, with a line of gold knobs down one side, and a tuning dial with so many bands that it covered the entire face of the radio. He unsnapped the back, took out the solitary penlight battery, pulled the little speaker out of the way, and exposed an olive-colored metal can.

"Inside that," said Cartwright, "is the crystal."

Ravagger squinted at it. "Where's the rest of the circuit?"

"That's it."

"The whole thing is in one crystal?"

"Sure. That's the point."

Ravagger scowled at the radio through a haze of cigarette smoke.

"Let's hear it."

"All right." Cartwright snapped the set together again. "But don't say anything out loud, or we may get in trouble with the FCC."

Ravagger nodded, and Cartwright turned the radio on. A girl with a voice that was not improved by the small speaker, was singing a popular song. Both men winced, and Cartwright quickly tuned in a recorded dance band, a news report, a voice talking rapidly in French, and then an amateur who was saying, ". . . Coming in very clear, but I didn't quite get your handle there . . ."

Ravagger said, "Do you mean to tell me—"

Cartwright said angrily, "Quiet!"

The radio said, "Wyatt? Wait a minute! I could have sworn—"

Cartwright snapped off the set. "I told you not to say anything!"

Ravagger stared at him. "You mean to say, this set will let you talk to any station you can receive?"

Cartwright took a deep breath, nodded glumly, and shoved the set back in the drawer. "The trouble is, we should have been content with the receiver circuit. We should never have built up the circuits for the transmitter. It was a big mistake to combine the two in the same crystal. They interact."

"There's no way to . . . say . . . break off the part of the crystal that has the transmitter in it?"

"It's not that simple. You can't separate them that easily. You need a whole new crystal."

"Well—Suppose you build a new crystal?"

"The fabricating equipment to mass-produce the crystals costs a mint, and our equipment will only turn out the one crystal it was built to make. It will do that with great precision, but that's all it will do."

"And you're already spread so thin you can't afford to buy new equipment?"

"That's it."

"Hm-m-m." Ravagger leaned back. After contemplating the ceiling for a while, he sat up again with a bang. "Now, as I understand this, Cartwright, the broadcast . . . ah . . . the transmission you send out turns up at the broadcaster's microphone. Is that right?"

"That's right."

"How could that happen?"

Cartwright squirmed uneasily. "The boys in the Research Department have an explanation for it. It has something to do with the 'carrier wave.' Let's see, the crystal is energized by the carrier wave, resonates, transmits in precise congruity with the carrier wave, and then the mike at the transmitting station 'telephones' and the sound comes out. If you want me to get them up here—"

Ravagger waved his hand. "They know why and how it happens. But what I'm interested in is what we can do with it."

Cartwright said drearily, "I haven't thought of anything."

"It would make a good walkie-talkie."

"Only if it were a transmitter, too. To make it a transmitter would require another stage in the manufacturing process. As it is, it's not a transmitter—except in this one freakish way."

Ravagger frowned. "How many of these sets have you got?"

"We've got a warehouse full of them. Naturally, when we first tried them out, this never entered our heads. We only stumbled onto it by accident."

"Hm-m-m." Ravagger leaned back and looked thoughtfully at Cartwright. "If it hadn't been for this thing, you'd have been raking it in by the barrelful."

Cartwright brightened. "By the truckload. We could eventually get the cost of the whole set down to about nine dollars a unit. We could charge any price within reason."

"And nobody could have predicted this trouble?"

"At least, nobody did predict it."

"Yes, I see." Ravagger knocked the ash off the end of his cigarette, ground out the butt, and looked at Cartwright. Ravagger's expression was a peculiar blend of calculation and benevolence. "As long as I'm cleaning out fools who should never have been in charge of companies anyway, what do I care if they say I'm a pirate and pronounce my name 'ravager'? I'm performing a useful function. If I start cleaning out first-raters, I'm not doing any good. Now, you had a good setup here. You should have made money. You were smart to switch over to this portable set. No one could blame you. You made the right moves."

Cartwright looked dazed.

Ravagger leaned forward. "I'm not going to take over this company. I'm going to get you off the hook. I aim to see to it that every one of these sets and the fabricating equipment are bought at your cost."

Cartwright was dumbfounded. "But—"

Ravagger waved his hand. "No buts. My job here is to get you off the hook. I'll profit, you'll profit, the stockholders will profit, and the whole country will profit. This situation has possibilities."

For an instant, Cartwright seemed to see a halo around the financial pirate's head.

"Anything you say," said Cartwright gratefully.

* * *

Cartwright, May 5. Cyrus Cartwright, II, president of the Cartwright Corporation and grandson of the corporation's founder, today beat off a formidable attempt by business buccaneer Nelson Ravagger to gain control of the company.

The Corporation had been rumored to be in serious difficulties, due to failure of a revolutionary manufacturing process. But Cyrus Cartwright today revealed the sale of the entire stock of merchandise and related manufacturing equipment to Hyperdynamic Specialty Products, a recently-formed distributing firm.

* * *

New York, June 2. Trading on the Big Board was heavy today. Among the most active stocks was the Cartwright Corporation.

* * *

New York, June 4. An astonishing advertisement has been running for the past week in several leading New York papers.

This reporter visited the showroom mentioned in the ad yesterday, picked up one of the devices advertised, and spent a truly delightful evening at home.

The advertisement is as follows:



Strike back at silly announcers with revolutionary device that enables you to talk to them! Introductory price of $29.99 for new Electronic Miracle. You can set it beside your radio or TV and blast moronic announcers and admaniacs to your heart's content. THEY WILL HEAR YOU! Haven't you suffered in silence long enough? Call at Hyperdynamic Showroom today!

* * *

New York, June 10. Rumors current for the past week were confirmed today by Harmon Lobcaw, president of NBS Radio, who admitted that "a serious situation has arisen in the broadcasting industry."

Mr. Lobcaw stated that voices have been heard, coming from microphones, accusing announcers of "stupidity, bad taste and a number of other things I don't care to repeat."

Mr. Lobcaw was unable to explain how this could be, but insisted that "It is a fact. Government action," he said, "is imperative."

* * *

New York, June 11. Saralee Boondog, popular singer, was removed from the NBS studio by ambulance today, and rushed to the hospital for treatment of shock. Cause of Miss Boondog's illness was "loud hisses and boos coming from the microphone" while she was singing the popular favorite, "Love You, Love You, Love You, Honey." Miss Boondog's manager has threatened to sue the person or persons responsible."

* * *

New York, June 11. The Nodor Antiperspirant Spray Co., Inc., has temporarily suspended its radio and TV commercials due to "abusive comments from the microphone, threatening the persons of the actors." A spokesman for the company warns that the company will seek damages.

* * *

New York, June 12. Attempts to locate the whereabouts of a concern called Hyperdynamic Specialty Products, rumored to be distributing radio sets of unusual properties, have so far proved futile. The firm's showroom was vacated before police arrived.

* * *

Havana, June 14. Julio Del Barbe, Special Communications Commissar, today blasted "Yankee imperialism" in a lengthy speech, interrupted a number of times as Mr. Del Barbe smashed his microphone. Mr. Del Barbe, among other things, angrily accused "a cutthroat Yankee CIA cover agency called Hyperdynamic Specialty Products" of selling his organization a case of expensive "special electronics equipment," which blew up on arrival.

* * *

Moscow, June 18. The Soviet Government has delivered a stiff protest to Washington, charging that "voices with American accents" are interrupting Soviet news and cultural broadcasters, with comments from the microphone such as "Lies, all lies," and "Communism is the bunk." Moscow demands that these "crude provocations" cease at once.

* * *

Washington, June 19. At the same time as the Russian note was received here, word got around that an official of the Russian embassy here recently paid $2,500.00 for a portable back-talk radio set such as is sold on the black market here for about $50.00. The back-talker was reportedly flown to Moscow on the very fastest jet transportation available.

* * *

Washington, June 20. The President was interrupted several times last night by caustic comments from the microphone. The Russians are believed responsible.

* * *

New York, August 1. Harmon Lobcaw, president of NBS Radio, announced today the installation of a system of "remote live broadcasting" which "strains out" microphone back talk before it reaches the announcer. Mr. Lobcaw also said that there is now a "crying need for announcers," as an estimated four hundred have recently quit their jobs. Asked why they quit, Mr. Lobcaw said, "Their self-confidence was shattered."

* * *

Washington, August 2. Following several nasty comments from the microphone, Senator William Becker has summoned Cyrus Cartwright, II, to testify before his committee regarding the Cartwright Corporation's connection with the mushrooming sales of back-talk radio and TV devices. Mr. Cartwright has stated that he will appear, and has nothing to hide.

* * *

New York, August 3. The price of Cartwright Corporation stock plummeted today, as rumors spread that the Government is determined to punish the company.

* * *

Washington, August 8. Cyrus Cartwright, II, today won a clean bill of health from Senator William Becker's investigating committee. The committee is now looking for Nelson Ravagger, the well-known speculator and corporation-raider.

* * *

New York, August 9. Cartwright Corporation stock rose sharply today.

* * *

Washington, August 11. In a stormy, shouting session financier Nelson Ravagger defended himself against charges of Senator William Becker's committee that Ravagger is responsible for distributing radio-TV back-talk devices. Mr. Ravagger asserted that he had not purchased the devices, but that they had been sold to a firm run by his business associate, Skybo Halante. Mr. Halante is now being sought.

* * *

New York, August 11. Cartwright Corporation climbed to a new high as it was learned today that the corporation developed and is now selling the cheapest and most effective system for "filtering" back talk and "sorting and storing" it for program-improvement purposes. Development of this device was reportedly instigated by financier Nelson Ravagger, who has emerged as apparently the major Cartwright stockholder following a series of complex market operations reported to have netted him millions.

* * *

Washington, August 16. In a furious session before the Becker Backtalk-Investigating Committee, businessman Cyrus Cartwright, II, and speculator Nelson Ravagger defended themselves against renewed charged of "mulcting the public, deceiving this committee, and attempting to destroy the communications industry in this country." Skybo Halante, Mr. Ravagger's long-sought business associate, appears to have evaporated into thin air. Grilled about this, Mr. Ravagger replied, "How should I know where he is? I'm not his chaperon." The search for Mr. Halante is continuing.

* * *

New York, August 17. Price of Cartwright Corporation stock fell sharply today as it was learned that damage suits totaling upwards of one billion dollars are to be brought against the corporation.

* * *

New York, August 19. Price of Cartwright Corporation stock rose sharply today as word was received of a fantastically cheap and effective Cartwright portable radio entirely free of back talk.

* * *

New York, August 22. The bottom fell out of Cartwright Corporation stock today as the rumor spread that the new-model portable radio produces back talk.

* * *

New York, August 24. Cartwright Corporation stock made a dramatic recovery and rose to an unprecedented high as the first of the new Cartwright portable receivers found their way into circulation today. The portables, extremely attractive and entirely free from back talk, are made to sell at a very reasonable price.

* * *

New York, August 25. Trading in Cartwright Corporation stock has been suspended, pending completion of an investigation to determine whether the recent sharp rises and falls have been due to behind-the-scenes manipulations. It has been rumored that speculator Nelson Ravagger and a small group of associates have made enormous profits from Cartwright's erratic behavior.

* * *

Washington, August 26. Cyrus Cartwright, II, was again called to the stand as the Becker Committee attempts to unravel the facts concerning the reported transfer of a huge quantity of back-talk radio sets from Cartwright Corporation, by way of Nelson Ravagger, to the still missing Skybo Halante. In a savage exchange, Senator Becker today called Mr. Cartwright a "bold-faced liar." Mr. Cartwright had just described the alleged circumstances surrounding the original sale of the back-talkers.

* * *

New York, September 25. Cartwright Corporation stock, following completion of the investigation into price-manipulation by insiders, continued to rise sharply this week, despite sporadic rumors that Nelson Ravagger and associates are now unloading most—if not all—their holdings.

* * *

Washington, September 29. The Becker Committee has closed its investigation into the Cartwright Corporation back-talkers. Cyrus Cartwright, II, pale and drawn, grimly told reporters, "The last few months have been the most terrific experience in my life." Asked what he intended to do now that the investigation was over, Mr. Cartwright said, "Sleep."

* * *

Budapest, October 2. Officials here have admitted for the first time that back-talkers are in fairly common use. They refuse to call their use a problem, however, saying that, thanks to the devices, people "let off steam," and "sometimes we get good suggestions." Several announcers have been sacked because of pointed back-talk comments.

* * *

New York, October 4. Cyrus Cartwright, II, today announced that he was stepping down as active head of the Cartwright Corporation, though he will remain on the Board of Directors. Mr. Cartwright said he wished to "sort things over in my mind. I have the sensation that I have just stepped off a combined merry-go-round and Ferris wheel." Mr. Cartwright refused to criticize Mr. Ravagger, who is reputed to have effective control of the corporation.

* * *

New York, October 5. Wall Street opinion is divided as to whether Nelson Ravagger actually controls large holdings of Cartwright stock at the moment. "It depends," a well-known speculator is reported to have said, "on whether the stock goes up or down. If it skyrockets, it will turn out that Ravagger has a big chunk of it. If it falls through the floor, we'll know for sure that he dumped it some time ago. You can't keep up with that guy. You can only reconstruct things afterward." Trading in the stock continues at a high level.

* * *

Washington October 6. A broadcast lecture by political economist Sero Kulf, on the "continuing iniquitous aspects of an unsocialized philosophy" was interrupted today by comments, getting through the filtered microphone, of "Crank," "Cretin," "What do you know about it?" and by Dr. Kulf's own replies, which unfortunately got through before the program was cut off the air. Stronger filtering systems are reported to be in production against bootleg back-talkers.

* * *

Washington, October 12. The uproar about back-talk radio sets seems to be gradually starting to die down. Senator William Becker remarked to reporters that "for the first time in fifteen years," he had listened to the radio the other day, and found it enjoyable. Mr. Becker feels that manufacturers are now getting the word about the more offensive commercials, and that the new system of filtering and registering complaints has led many stations to cut down on too frequent advertising. "This mess may," said the senator, "prove to have its compensations."

* * *

New York, October 24. At a meeting of the Better Radio and TV Association, president Jack M. Straub today awarded the association's Distinguished Service Plaque to Cyrus Cartwright, II, and Nelson Ravagger, for "distinguished efforts which have resulted in vastly improving the dismal standard of radio and television broadcasting, by enabling listeners and viewers to record their actual feelings spontaneously and directly, rather than through the doubtful intermediary of sampling procedures."

Mr. Straub said that he will give an even bigger and better plaque to missing financier and reputed boot-leg-manufacturer Skybo Halante, "if someone will locate him for us."

"Communication," Mr. Straub added, "generally needs to be two-way to be effective."


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