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Thomas Dixon Lockwood

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Thomas Dixon Lockwood (1848-1927)

1927 Obituary [1]

THOMAS DIXON LOCKWOOD was born at Smethwick, Birmingham, on the 30th December, 1848, and died at his home, Melrose, Mass., on the. 6th April, 1927.

In 1865 he left England for Canada with his father and the latter's family, and became the first operator at Port Hope, Ontario, for the Provincial Telegraph Co.

He afterwards went to the United States and was successively engaged in making paper in Massachusetts, plate glass in Indiana, and teaching school in Arkansas. His early experience as a telegraph operator and his predilection for electrical work, however, exerted their influence, and other pursuits were abandoned for telegraphy.

He worked for the Gold and Stock and the American District Telegraph Companies, among others, and in 1879 obtained an appointment as assistant general inspector in the Bell Telephone Co. His work went much beyond his titular office, for the organization was then in the initial stage and its employees turned their hands to any sort of useful work which needed to be done. Patent litigation was predominant, and here his knowledge and skill were of great importance.

His success in this work led to his being placed, in 1881, at the head of a new bureau of patent and technical information, of which the company saw the need. In his conversation there were occasionally to be noted some indications of regret that he had not been retained in the work of technical development, but results justified the choice of his superiors in the work allotted him. Having already the necessary technical information, he acquired the equally necessary legal knowledge and, aided by a phenomenal memory, controlled with great ability the patent side of the company's business. It may be said with certainty that he was alone in his complete knowledge of telephonic and allied inventions. Though thus devoted to one department he was still active in new developments, and his criticisms in the formative stages of telephonic progress were acute and helpful.

As a writer he was clear and direct. He was much sought after as a speaker at meetings of telephone societies, and could always be relied upon for a stimulating and informative address. He was conscious of the deficiencies in his early education, though by assiduous study he had overcome them, and he was always anxious to smooth the path of those suffering similar disabilities.

In the preface of his "Hand Book of Electric Telegraphy" he writes: ".. . the knowledge that but few of the many books written upon the subject are fitted for the self-helper, who has to struggle against many difficulties, notably that of neglected early education, forms the excuse of the author for inflicting another book upon the electrical public."

One other quotation - the opening of his preface to his "Practical Information for Telephonists" (1882) - well indicates his conception of the wide field of usefulness for electricity: "No science is so pre-eminently the science of the age as that of electricity; nor is any study so fascinating, or so enthralling to its votaries; and when associated with its elder sister, 'magnetism,' to work modern miracles, it is not for any living creature to limit the number, character or scope of its manifestations." .

He was elected a Member of the Institution in 1880 and always took great interest in its progress. When arrangements were being made for the new building he expressed a desire to " put a brick in it," a desire which was accomplished by a contribution of £100 to the Building Fund which the Institution had set up. He was also one of the first members of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, and served as manager and vice-president, an honorary member of the National Electric Light Association, an honorary member of the Association of Railway Telegraph Superintendents [U.S.A.], and a member of the Canadian Electrical Association.

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