F L Pope
In the early 1870's Pope patented some of his important inventions in the field of railroad signaling. One of them was his semaphoric block signal system that was adopted by several railroads. In this system, Pope created circuits out of segmented rails that were separated by small pieces of hardwood. The rails were connected to various relay schemes utilizing local batteries and telegraph relays, which included duplex and neutral types. They were connected in such a way as to signal to remote semaphores, over telegraph lines, the approach and passing of trains that traveled within a particular section or " block" of track. Pope's inventions were marketed by The Electric Railroad Signal Company in New York where he was listed as their engineer. Also during this same period Pope was in business as a manufacturer and dealer in telegraph instruments and supplies operating under the name of F.L. Pope and Company. Both companies operated from the same address at 38 Vesey St..
By 1875 Pope became a counselor and patent expert for the Gold and Stock Telegraph Company.
He was one of the first to specialize specifically in electrical related patents. He was recruited by Western Union's president William Orton, at a salary of Pope's choice, to hold a similar position with that company.
There were few patents worth anything in the telegraph industry that Western Union did not control. Pope had the enormous responsibility to defend Western Union's patent rights and to secure patents that would be beneficial to the company.
Telegraph Sounder by F. L. Pope & Co.
Beginning in the 1880's, Pope set off on his own and conducted business as a patent attorney and consultant.
He assumed the editorial management of the magazine, The Electrician,
changing its name to The Electrician and Electrical Engineer, and finally to The Electrical Engineer. He was one of the highest paid
consultants in the country and was retained by companies such as Postal Telegraph, Westinghouse, and American Bell Telephone.
He also represented Jesse H. Bunnell on his historic 1881 steel-lever key
patent, which became the standard telegraph key pattern used in the U. S. He was frequently hired as an expert witness and was present at some the more important patent cases during the 19th century. Interesting though, he was seldom called to the stand.
His presence in the court room as a well known expert, with inflexible honesty, seemed to be all that was needed in some cases. He frequently turned down large retainers if he did not agree with the case.
Pope's ability to dissect a topic, explain it in a pleasant and graceful style, and with bell-like clarity, can be characterized as simple brilliance.
He made contributions to several technical journals in this country on an array of topics associated with the emerging technologies of the late 19th century. His historical interests are reflected in his comprehensive work documenting the development of the incandescent lamp, and the electric motor. In his articles on the history of the telegraph, he gave special recognition to the contributions of Joseph Henry and Alfred Vail in addition to Samuel Morse. The historical impact of Pope's pen is best illustrated by his
contributions to the encyclopedias of that era.
To Page 8 of 8
Back to first page
Copyright (c) by John Casale - W2NI
Troy, New York