1916 Tech Mystery in Downtown Brattleboro

As I sometimes do, I was reading the old newspapers of Brattleboro and came across this little bit of tech news from 1916 in the Phoenix. It’s a story of a mysterious sound that was interfering with a downtown Brattleboro business.  Vaughan & Burnett had a jewelry store on Main Street and were innovators in that they installed special equipment to accurately set clocks and watches.

January 28, 1916


Peculiar Disturbance Noted in Vaughan & Burnett’s Wireless Apparatus About Noon Each Day

Local wireless experts are baffled by a queer freak of the wireless apparatus installed in the store of Vaughan & Burnett for receiving the exact time at noon and 10 p.m.

Of late from a few minutes before 12 o’clock until from three to 10 minutes past that hour there is a peculiar bussing in the receivers that makes it impossible to hear the time signals flashed from Washington. t no other time of the day or night is this heard There is never any difficulty in receiving the time at 10 p.m.

It was thought that the use of the X-ray machine in the Memorial hospital, often in operation at noon, might in some way interfere with the wireless, but it has been proved that this is not the cause. The idea that high tension wires might have something to do with it is discarded because of the fact that the effect would be heard at other times other than noon.

A.M. Bennett of West Brattleboro, who has a powerful receiving station at his home, is not bothered materially by this phenomenon, although he has heard it.  Homer Ellis, who had a wireless outfit on the roof of the next building to that in which Vaughan & Burnett’s store is located, has heard some slight disturbance at times, but nothing like that which interferes with the effectiveness of the Vaughan & Burnett apparatus at noon each day.


I didn’t see any story of how this was resolved, so the mystery remains open.  Have any ideas on what might be causing the interference? Bad guesses welcome…

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