People & Events
While he was confident that wireless radio waves could be sent from hilltop to hilltop and from ship to shore, Guglielmo Marconi still had to prove it to the skeptics. When he did, the world's communication systems were changed forever.
Guglielmo Marconi's interest in physics began at an early age. When he turned thirteen. Annie Jameson, Marconi's mother, enrolled him at the Technical Institute in Leghorn, Italy. When she saw his enthusiasm transforming into dedication, Ms. Jameson hired private tutors. In 1893, at the age of nineteen, Marconi began studying under physicist Auguste Righi of the University of Bologna. From Righi, who was a neighbor of the Marconi family, Guglielmo learned the theories of Heinrich Hertz and James Clerk Maxwell.
Hertz had relayed radio signals within his laboratory, thus proving wireless transmission possible. Marconi's goal was to liberate wireless from the laboratory and deliver it to the world. In 1896, Marconi's cousin, Henry Jameson Davis, introduced him to the Engineer-in-Chief of the British Post Office, William Preece. Through Preece, the 22-year-old Marconi began giving demonstrations of a wireless apparatus. He patented his wireless the following year. In 1898 Marconi founded Wireless Telegraph and Signal Company Limited -- the world's first radio factory, based in Chelmsford, England. Fame was now just around the bend.
In September 1899, Marconi traveled to America to demonstrate his wireless technology. His assignment: to give up-to-the-minute reports of the America's Cup yacht race, being held off the coast of New York. From the deck of an observation yacht, Marconi used his wireless to report the progress of the race to a wireless operator at the "New York Herald." As each update reached the newsroom, editors' awe intensified. Never in history had an event been tracked in this manner. The next issue of the "Herald" proclaimed: "Marconi's Wireless Telegraph Triumphs."
For Marconi, fame meant continued experimentation -- and continued success. During the early 1900s, he formed the American Marconi Company, as well as the Marconi International Marine Communication Company, Ltd. He also filed patent No. 7777, for Improvements in Apparatus for Wireless Telegraphy." These improvements, based on the research of Sir Oliver Lodge, allowed Marconi's wireless stations to transmit over several wavelengths, thus reducing interference. In 1901, Marconi engineered the first transatlantic wireless transmission. In 1909, he won the Nobel Prize for Physics for his contributions to wireless telegraphy.
For Marconi, the quest for invention was never-ending. In 1913 he introduced innovations that made radio wave reception and transmission exceedingly efficient. He sent the first radio message from England to Australia in 1918. His experiments with increasingly shorter wavelengths for radio transmission included microwave research that led to the development of radar. Marconi's work transmitting radio signals across the Atlantic to developing short wave theory is what lie at the foundation of today's long-distance radio communication systems. Marconi died in Rome in 1937.