The Book - Bart Beck

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About Bart Beck

MOBILE PHONES

Stan Bloom and I worked close together for several years, before he split off and started an operation of his own. He apparently did alright with it too. During much of his tenure, with the Clifton Engineering Company, Stan was in charge of our underground work in the central and eastern part of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan, and as such, was involved, among other things, with the bidding on new work.

It was in the early days of the Mobile Telephone that Stan and I were looking at some work in the Mt. Clemens area. During the process, a question arose that required a clarification from the customer's Engineering Department. Stan picked up his car phone to call the Utility and found that the channel was busy. That was not unusual and it was customary practice to just hold the instrument, wait for the party to complete their conversation and then key the operator.

The man had just placed the call and even though we were not, at first, interested in his conversation, we discovered that he was a man that Stan and I both knew, real well. He was the Superintendent of one of our toughest competitors, in the Detroit area and he was giving his main office his evaluation of a project and his recommendation for pricing it. As much as we tried not to listen in, we were forced to conclude that he was giving his office the prices for every unit on the very job that Stan and I were looking at, and he had already gotten the information that we were in doubt about.

As it turned out, it was a job that we did not want, at the time, but it gave us an opportunity to place a bid that would keep us from getting the work and still make the competitor and the customer look real sharp.

There was another time that Stan and I got all tangled up with those ancient car phones. He was in the Detroit area and I was in the office at Three Rivers. We were talking about moving equipment around preparatory to starting a new job. Very suddenly, Stan said "hold on, I have a problem". After I had held on for quite some time, Stan came back on to explain how a very irate lady had come running out of her home, in front of which Stan was parked, and told him how Arthur Godfrey's program had been interrupted by some people who were going to move a bunch of tractors and trucks, all over the state.

As I said, it was during the early days of those phones and before the advent of transistors, micro chips and many of the other refinements and frequency controls that we have now, so I guess that if conditions are just right, or just wrong, most any freak harmonic could screw things up.

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