The Father of Wireless Telegraphy

Guglielmo Marconi

Guglielmo Marconi

Guglielmo Marconi, (April 25, 1874– July 20, 1937) was an Italian inventor considered by many as the father of wireless data communications. In 1899, Marconi successfully demonstrated long wireless telegraphy by transmitting Morse code across the English Channel, more than 30 km. He shared the 1909 Nobel Prize in Physics with Karl Ferdinand Braun “in recognition of their contributions to the development of wireless telegraphy.”

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One Response to History of Wireless: Guglielmo Marconi

  1. Larry Davis says:

    As early as 1892, Nikola Tesla created a basic design for radio. On November 8, 1898 he patented a radio controlled robot-boat. Tesla used this boat which was controlled by radio waves in the Electrical Exhibition in 1898, Madison Square Garden.

    Tesla’s robot-boat was constructed with an antenna, which transmitted the radio waves coming from the command post where Tesla was standing. Those radio waves were received by a radio sensitive device called coherer, which transmitted the radio waves into mechanical movements of the propellers on the boat.

    Tesla changed the boat’s direction, with manually operated controls on the command post. Since this was the first application of radio waves, it made front page news, in America, at that time.

    Most of us, think of Guglielmo Marconi as the father of radio, and Tesla is unknown for his work in radio. Marconi claimed all the first patents for radio, something originally developed by Tesla. Nikola Tesla tried to prove that he was the creator of radio but it wasn’t until 1943, where Marconi’s patents were deemed invalid; however, people still have no idea about Tesla’s work with radio.

    Tesla filed his own basic radio patent applications in 1897. They were granted in 1900. Marconi’s first patent application in America, filed on November 10, 1900, was turned down. Marconi’s revised applications over the next three years were repeatedly rejected because of the priority of Tesla and other inventors.

    The Patent Office made the following comment in 1903:

    Many of the claims are not patentable over Tesla patent numbers 645,576 and 649,621, of record, the amendment to overcome said references as well as Marconi’s pretended ignorance of the nature of a “Tesla oscillator” being little short of absurd… the term “Tesla oscillator” has become a household word on both continents [Europe and North America].

    But no patent is truly safe, as Tesla’s career demonstrates. In 1900, the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company, Ltd. began thriving in the stock markets—due primarily to Marconi’s family connections with English aristocracy. British Marconi stock soared from $3 to $22 per share and the glamorous young Italian nobleman was internationally acclaimed.

    Both Edison and Andrew Carnegie invested in Marconi and Edison became a consulting engineer of American Marconi. Then, on December 12, 1901, Marconi for the first time transmitted and received signals across the Atlantic Ocean.

    Otis Pond, an engineer then working for Tesla, said, “Looks as if Marconi got the jump on you.” Tesla replied, “Marconi is a good fellow. Let him continue. He is using seventeen of my patents.”

    But Tesla’s calm confidence was shattered in 1904, when the U.S. Patent Office suddenly and surprisingly reversed its previous decisions and gave Marconi a patent for the invention of radio. The reasons for this have never been fully explained, but the powerful financial backing for Marconi in the United States suggests one possible explanation.

    Tesla was embroiled in other problems at the time, but when Marconi won the Nobel Prize in 1911, Tesla was furious. He sued the Marconi Company for infringement in 1915, but was in no financial condition to litigate a case against a major corporation.

    It wasn’t until 1943—a few months after Tesla’s death— that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Tesla’s radio patent number 645,576.

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