Little Bits of History

Long Distance Communication

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 27, 2010

Guglielmo Marconi with his invention in 1876

March 27, 1899: The first international radio transmission takes place when Guglielmo Marconi transmits a message between England and France. Marconi was the son of an Italian landowner and Annie Jameson, the Irish granddaughter of the founder of Jameson & Son Distillery.

Many other electrical engineers and scientists were instrumental in developing the radio, but Marconi’s contributions to a useful form make him known as “the father of radio.” He first transmitted his Morse code messages across water in 1897, and across the Atlantic in 1901.

Marconi continued to work with longwaves and lower frequencies, broadcasting for longer distances. Messages were more easily sent at night, going more than twice as far without day time interferences. In 1903, on March 29, the first transatlantic new service between New York and London was begun. Voice over radio waves was finally introduced in the 1920s. In 1922, the first regular radio broadcasts for entertainment were introduced.

Today, radio is still used for audio transmissions, both word and music. It can also be used to transmit video if there is a proper receiver and digital television uses 8VSB modulation. Radio can be used for telephones with mobile phones transmitting to local cell sites. Radio is used for navigation and radar by bouncing radio waves off solid objects. Data can be sent across digital radio bands. There are licensed and unlicensed radio services available for short wave frequencies. Radio can be used to control remotely as in toy cars and planes. As a side effect, radio produces heat, and so can be used as a heating source.

“Every improvement in communication makes the bore more terrible.” – Frank Moore Colby

“You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat.” – Albert Einstein, when asked to describe radio

“Cinema, radio, television, magazines are a school of inattention: people look without seeing, listen in without hearing.” – Robert Bresson

“The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?” – David Sarnoff’s associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s.

Also on this day, in 1977 at Tenerife Airport, the world’s most deadly aviation disaster.

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One Response

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  1. wpm1955 said, on March 27, 2010 at 9:26 am

    I really enjoyed reading your post. I knew about Manconi, but didn’t realize that voice radio was only introduced in the early 20’s! That’s only 6-7 years before my parents were born. I would have thought that voice radio had been around since 1900. Thank you for writing this interesting entry.


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