June 2nd, 1896 – The “Birth Certificate” of Radio

Today-In-History

Guglielmo Marconi, 1st Marquis of Marconi was an Italian inventor and electrical engineer, known for his pioneering work on long-distance radio transmission and for his development of Marconi’s law and a radio telegraph system. He is often credited as the inventor of radio, and he shared the 1909 Nobel Prize in Physics with Karl Ferdinand Braun “in recognition of their contributions to the development of wireless telegraphy”. An entrepreneur, businessman, and founder in Britain in 1897 of The Wireless Telegraph & Signal Company (which became the Marconi Company), Marconi succeeded in making a commercial success of radio by innovating and building on the work of previous experimenters and physicists. In 1929 the King of Italy ennobled Marconi as a Marchese (marquis).

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Guglielmo Marconi (April 25th, 1874 – July 20th, 1937)

Marconi, just twenty years old, began his first experiments working on his own with the help of his butler Mignani. In the summer of 1894, he built a storm alarm made up of a battery, a coherer, and an electric bell, which went off if there was lightning. Soon after he was able to make a bell ring on the other side of the room by pushing a telegraphic button on a bench.

One night in December, Guglielmo woke his mother up and invited her into his secret workshop and showed her the experiment he had created. The next day he also showed his work to his father, who, when he was certain there were no wires, gave his son all of the money he had in his wallet so Guglielmo could buy more materials.

In the summer of 1895 Marconi moved his experimentation outdoors and continued to experiment on his father’s estate in Bologna. After increasing the length of the transmitter and receiver antennas, arranging them vertically, and positioning the antenna so that it touched the ground, the range increased significantly. Soon he was able to transmit signals over a hill, a distance of approximately 2.4 kilometres (1.5 mi). By this point he concluded that with additional funding and research, a device could become capable of spanning greater distances and would prove valuable both commercially and militarily.

Marconi wrote to the Ministry of Post and Telegraphs, then under the direction of the honorable Pietro Lacava, explaining his wireless telegraph machine and asking for funding. He never received a response to his letter which was eventually dismissed by the Minister who wrote “to the Longara” on the document, referring to the insane asylum on Via della Lungara in Rome.

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In 1896, Marconi spoke with his family friend Carlo Gardini,Honorary Consul at the United States Consulate in Bologna, about leaving Italy to go to England. Gardini wrote a letter of introduction to the Ambassador of Italy in London, Annibale Ferrero, explaining who Marconi was and about these extraordinary discoveries. In his response, Ambassador Ferrero advised them not to reveal the results until after they had obtained the copyrights, and on June 2nd, 1896, Marconi applies for a patent for his newest invention, the radio.


 

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