People & Events
The First Transatlantic Wireless Signal
Electromagnetic waves, or radio waves, were first transmitted across the Atlantic ocean in 1901 by Guglielmo Marconi. Marconi, considered the "father of radio," was an Italian inventor and entrepreneur. In a series of laboratory experiments and dramatic public demonstrations, he proved that wireless telegraphy could be used as a practical means of transmitting information. But sending a radio signal across the broad Atlantic would be the most dramatic demonstration yet of the power of the wireless.
After setting up a transmitting station at Poldhu, in Cornwall, England, Marconi sailed to St. John's, Newfoundland, 2,100 miles away. There, he waited at his receiver for a signal to arrive. The operator at Poldhu began sending a sequence of three "dots," which represented the letter "s" in Morse code, on December 11. He repeated transmission throughout the day without success. The next day, December 12, Marconi detected a signal, although faint, at St. John's. Once again, the wireless had made history.