This Day in History (June 2)

Credited as being -
Father of wireless,
Grandfather of Radio and
GreatGrandfather of Cell Phones

  • Name: Guglielmo Marconi
  • Occupation: Inventor, Physicist.
  • Birth Date: April 25, 1874.
  • Death Date: July 20, 1937.
  • Place of Birth: Bologna, Italy
  • Applied for Radio Patent: 2 June, 1896.

Guglielmo Marconi was a Nobel Prize winning physicist and inventor, credited with the ground breaking work necessary for all future radio technology. Marconi applied and received his first patent in England for a system of wireless telegraphy on the 2nd of June 1896. In 1901, Marconi successfully sent wireless signals across the Atlantic Ocean, disproving the dominant belief that the Earth's curvature would affect transmission.  The word ‘radio’ appears in a 1907 article by Lee De Forest. Radio was adopted by the United States Navy in 1912. The term became common by the time of the first commercial broadcasts in the USA in the 1920s. (The noun ‘broadcasting’ itself came from an agricultural term, meaning ‘scattering seeds widely.’) British Commonwealth countries continued to commonly use the term ‘wireless’ until the mid-20th century.

Babylon, New York
In recent years the more general term ‘wireless’ has gained renewed popularity through the rapid growth of short-range computer networking, e.g., Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN), Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth, as well as mobile telephony, e.g., GSM, GPS and UMTS. Today, the term ‘radio’ specifies the actual type of transceiver device or chip, whereas ‘wireless’ refers to the lack of physical connections; one does not talk about radio transceivers, but about wireless devices and wireless sensor networks.

Trivia - The Titanic connection
The two radio operators aboard the Titanic—Jack Phillips and Harold Bride—were employed by the Marconi International Marine Communication Company. Following the sinking of the ocean liner, survivors were rescued by the RMS Carpathia of the Cunard Line. Also employed by the Marconi Company was David Sarnoff, the only person to receive the names of survivors immediately after the disaster via wireless technology. Wireless communications were reportedly maintained for 72 hours between the Carpathia and Sarnoff. When the Carpathia docked in New York, Marconi went aboard with a reporter from The New York Times to talk with Bride, the surviving operator. On 18 June 1912, Marconi gave evidence to the Court of Inquiry into the loss of the Titanic regarding the marine telegraphy's functions and the procedures for emergencies at sea. Britain's postmaster-general summed up, referring to the Titanic disaster, ‘Those who have been saved, have been saved through one man, Mr. Marconi...and his marvelous invention.’ Marconi was offered free passage on the Titanic before it sank, but had actually taken the Lusitania three days earlier. As his daughter Degna later explained, he had paperwork to do and preferred the public stenographer aboard that vessel.

Only known photo of the Marconi Room - Titanic

Quote: Have I done the world good, or have I added a menace?  ~ Guglielmo Marconi    (Only time will tell Mr Marconi, if we stop texting, surfing and blogging long enough to contemplate this menace!)

Sad Trivia Fact 2:
Nikolai Tesla actually invented the radio as well as A/C current. It was Marconi who got-in first to patent the idea of radio transmission.  At first Tesla wasn't at war with Marconi (the man credited with the first radio broadcast across the Atlantic Ocean, and given the moniker 'Father of Radio'), as a matter of fact when Marconi was getting accolades for creating this new thing called 'radio', Tesla cleverly said, 'Marconi is a good fellow. Let him continue. He is using seventeen of my patents.' This light hearted feeling toward the Marconi praise changed once Marconi was given the Nobel Prize in 1911 (for basically 'creating' what Tesla had already devised) Tesla tried to sue but had neither money nor backing to fight it.