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Bertram Sydney Cohen

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Bertram Sydney Cohen (1876-1943)

1943 Obituary [1]

CAPTAIN BERTRAM SYDNEY COHEN, O.B.E., who died suddenly on the 4th January, 1943, was an outstanding figure among the older generation of telephone engineers. Born in 1876, he was educated at Highbury New Park Grammar School and the City of London College, subsequently attending the Polytechnic School of Engineering and Finsbury Technical College. After a few years with various electrical firms he joined the National Telephone Co., in 1897, acquiring in the ensuing years a wide experience in its different departments. In 1904 he was placed in charge of the company's research organization, one of his first tasks being the determination and provision, in co-operation with Post Office engineers, of telephone transmission standards necessary for the purpose of the agreement, then being negotiated with the National Telephone Co. He was concerned with the introduction of common battery working in this country, and took much interest in improving the technical qualifications of the staff, reading a number of papers on telephone transmission and supervising a series of correspondence courses for the staff covering all aspects of telephone work. He did much to improve the quantitative measurement of telephone performance; the vibrating-wire interrupter for producing audio-frequency currents, and the barretter bridge for measuring them, were two devices he produced to this end, though the introduction of apparatus using thermionic valves has rendered them obsolete.

On the transfer of the National Telephone Co.'s staff to the Post Office in 1912 he became an Assistant Staff Engineer in the Post Office Research Branch. He was given a Commission in the Royal Naval Air Service during the last war and was concerned particularly with aircraft communications. In 1926 he was appointed Staff Engineer of the Test Section of the Engineer-in-Chief's office and shortly afterwards returned to take charge of the Research Branch, which appointment he held until his retirement in 1938. In 1931 he was awarded the O.B.E. He was associated with the C.C.I.F. from its earliest days and, as Chairman of the 4th Commission, conducted meetings in various European capitals. He was elected an Associate Member of The Institution in 1907 and a Member in 1926, and he contributed, either alone or in collaboration, a number of papers to The Institution, being awarded the Fahie Premium on three occasions. His Faraday Lecture "The Long Distance Telephone Call" was delivered at several Centres. He was Chairman of the Meter and Instrument Section for 1938-39.

He was a man of wide interests, among them, at various times, being yachting, motoring, photography, microscopy, entomology, rock gardening, and ornamental turning. He will be greatly missed by a wide circle of friends.

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