Guglielmo Marconi

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Guglielmo Marconi
Guglielmo Marconi.jpg
Born
Guglielmo Giovanni Maria Marconi

(1874-04-25)25 April 1874
Palazzo Marescalchi, Bologna, Italy
Died20 July 1937(1937-07-20) (aged 63)
Rome, Italy
Nationality Italian
Citizenship Italy
Alma mater University of Bologna
Known for Radio
Awards
Scientific career
Academic advisors Augusto Righi
Signature
Guglielmo Marconi Signature.svg

Guglielmo Marconi, 1st Marquis of Marconi (Italian:  [ɡuʎˈʎɛlmo marˈkoːni] ; 25 April 1874 20 July 1937) was an Italian [1] [2] [3] [4] inventor, and electrical engineer, known for his pioneering work on long-distance radio transmission, [5] development of Marconi's law, and a radio telegraph system. He is credited as the inventor of radio, [6] and he shared the 1909 Nobel Prize in Physics with Karl Ferdinand Braun "in recognition of their contributions to the development of wireless telegraphy". [7] [8] [9]

Italy republic in Southern Europe

Italy, officially the Italian Republic, is a European country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Alps and surrounded by several islands. Located in the middle of the Mediterranean sea and traversed along its length by the Apennines, Italy has a largely temperate seasonal climate. The country covers a total area of 301,340 km2 (116,350 sq mi), and land area of 294,140 km2 (113,570 sq mi), and shares open land borders with France, Slovenia, Austria, Switzerland and the enclaved microstates of Vatican City and San Marino. Italy has a territorial exclave in Switzerland (Campione) and a maritime exclave in the Tunisian Sea (Lampedusa). With around 60 million inhabitants, Italy is the fourth-most populous member state of the European Union.

Electrical engineering field of engineering that deals with electricity

Electrical engineering is a technical discipline concerned with the study, design and application of equipment, devices and systems which use electricity, electronics, and electromagnetism. It emerged as an identified activity in the latter half of the 19th century after commercialization of the electric telegraph, the telephone, and electrical power generation, distribution and use.

Marconi's law is the relation between length of antennas and maximum signaling distance of radio transmissions. Guglielmo Marconi enunciated at one time an empirical law that, for simple vertical sending and receiving antennas of equal height, the maximum working telegraphic distance varied as the square of the height of the antenna. It has been stated that the rule was tested in experiments made on Salisbury Plain in 1897, and also by experiments made by Italian naval officers on behalf of the Royal Italian Navy in 1900 and 1901. Captain Quintino Bonomo gave a report of these experiments in an official report.

Contents

Marconi was also an entrepreneur, businessman, and founder of The Wireless Telegraph & Signal Company in the United Kingdom in 1897 (which became the Marconi Company). He succeeded in making an engineering and commercial success of radio by innovating and building on the work of previous experimenters and physicists. [10] [11] In 1929, Marconi was ennobled as a Marchese (marquis) by King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy, and, in 1931, he set up the Vatican Radio for Pope Pius XI.

A businessman or businesswoman is a person involved in the business sector – in particular someone undertaking activities for the purpose of generating cash flow, sales, and revenue by utilizing a combination of human, financial, intellectual and physical capital with a view to fuelling economic development and growth. An entrepreneur is a person who sets up a business or businesses. He or she is also referred to as a promoter in the entertainment industry.

The Marconi Company was a British telecommunications and engineering company that did business under that name from 1963 to 1987. It was derived from earlier variations in the name and incorporation, spanning a period from its inception in 1897 until 2006, during which time it underwent numerous changes, mergers and acquisitions. The company was founded by the Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi and began as the Wireless Telegraph & Signal Company. The company was a pioneer of wireless long distance communication and mass media broadcasting, eventually becoming one of the UK's most successful manufacturing companies. In 1999, its defence manufacturing division, Marconi Electronic Systems, merged with British Aerospace to form BAE Systems. In 2006, extreme financial difficulties led to the collapse of the remaining company, with the bulk of the business acquired by the Swedish telecommunications company, Ericsson.

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Historical sovereign state from 1801 to 1921

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was a sovereign state established by the Acts of Union 1800, which merged the kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland.

Biography

Early years

Marconi was born into the Italian nobility as Guglielmo Giovanni Maria Marconi [12] in Bologna on 25 April 1874, the second son of Giuseppe Marconi (an Italian aristocratic landowner from Porretta Terme) and his Irish/Scot wife Annie Jameson (daughter of Andrew Jameson of Daphne Castle in County Wexford, Ireland and granddaughter of John Jameson, founder of whiskey distillers Jameson & Sons [13] ). Marconi had a brother, Alfonso, and a stepbrother, Luigi. Between the ages of two and six, Marconi and his elder brother Alfonso lived with their mother in the English town of Bedford. [14] [15]

Bologna Comune in Emilia-Romagna, Italy

Bologna is the capital and largest city of the Emilia-Romagna region in Northern Italy. It is the seventh most populous city in Italy, at the heart of a metropolitan area of about one million people.

Porretta Terme Frazione in Emilia-Romagna, Italy

Porretta Terme is a town of the Reno Valley Tuscan-Emilian Apennines, a frazione of the comune of Alto Reno Terme, Emilia-Romagna. Porretta Terme is located about 60 kilometres (37 mi) south-west of Bologna. Known since Roman times for its thermal springs, it is also a center for winter sports thanks to the nearby resorts of Corno alle Scale, Abetone, Monte Cimone. It was a separate comune until January 2016, when it merged with Granaglione to form the new comune of Alto Reno Terme.

Irish people Ethnic group, native to the island of Ireland, with shared history and culture

The Irish are a nation and ethnic group native to the island of Ireland, who share a common Irish ancestry, identity and culture. Ireland has been inhabited for about 12,500 years according to archaeological studies. For most of Ireland's recorded history, the Irish have been primarily a Gaelic people. From the 9th century, small numbers of Vikings settled in Ireland, becoming the Norse-Gaels. Anglo-Normans conquered parts of Ireland in the 12th century, while England's 16th/17th-century (re)conquest and colonisation of Ireland brought many English and Lowland Scots people to parts of the island, especially the north. Today, Ireland is made up of the Republic of Ireland and the smaller Northern Ireland. The people of Northern Ireland hold various national identities including British, Irish, Northern Irish or some combination thereof.

Education

Marconi did not attend school as a child and did not go on to formal higher education. [16] [17] [18] Instead, he learned chemistry, math, and physics at home from a series of private tutors hired by his parents. His family hired additional tutors for Guglielmo in the winter when they would leave Bologna for the warmer climate of Tuscany or Florence. [18] Marconi noted an important mentor was professor Vincenzo Rosa, a high school physics teacher in Livorno. [19] [17] Rosa taught the 17-year-old Marconi the basics of physical phenomena as well as new theories on electricity. At the age of 18 and back in Bologna, Marconi became acquainted with University of Bologna physicist Augusto Righi, who had done research on Heinrich Hertz's work. Righi permitted Marconi to attend lectures at the university and also to use the University's laboratory and library. [20]

Tuscany Region of Italy

Tuscany is a region in central Italy with an area of about 23,000 square kilometres and a population of about 3.8 million inhabitants (2013). The regional capital is Florence (Firenze).

Florence Capital and most populous city of the Italian region of Tuscany

Florence is a city in central Italy and the capital city of the Tuscany region. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with 383,084 inhabitants in 2013, and over 1,520,000 in its metropolitan area.

Livorno Comune in Tuscany, Italy

Livorno is a port city on the Ligurian Sea on the western coast of Tuscany, Italy. It is the capital of the Province of Livorno, having a population of 158,493 residents in December 2017. It has traditionally been known in English as Leghorn.

Radio work

From youth, Marconi was interested in science and electricity. In the early 1890s, he began working on the idea of "wireless telegraphy"—i.e., the transmission of telegraph messages without connecting wires as used by the electric telegraph. This was not a new idea; numerous investigators and inventors had been exploring wireless telegraph technologies and even building systems using electric conduction, electromagnetic induction and optical (light) signalling for over 50 years, but none had proven technically and commercially successful. A relatively new development came from Heinrich Hertz, who, in 1888, demonstrated that one could produce and detect electromagnetic radiation. At the time, this radiation was commonly called "Hertzian" waves, and is now generally referred to as radio waves. [21]

Electricity Physical phenomena associated with the presence and flow of electric charge

Electricity is the set of physical phenomena associated with the presence and motion of matter that has a property of electric charge. In early days, electricity was considered as being unrelated to magnetism. Later on, many experimental results and the development of Maxwell's equations indicated that both electricity and magnetism are from a single phenomenon: electromagnetism. Various common phenomena are related to electricity, including lightning, static electricity, electric heating, electric discharges and many others.

Wireless telegraphy

Wireless telegraphy means transmission of telegraph signals by radio waves; a more specific term for this is radiotelegraphy. Before about 1910 when radio became dominant, the term wireless telegraphy was also used for various other experimental technologies for transmitting telegraph signals without wires, such as electromagnetic induction, and ground conduction telegraph systems.

Electrical resistivity and its inverse, electrical conductivity, is a fundamental property of a material that quantifies how strongly it resists or conducts electric current. A low resistivity indicates a material that readily allows electric current. Resistivity is commonly represented by the Greek letter ρ (rho). The SI unit of electrical resistivity is the ohm-metre (Ω⋅m). For example, if a 1 m × 1 m × 1 m solid cube of material has sheet contacts on two opposite faces, and the resistance between these contacts is 1 Ω, then the resistivity of the material is 1 Ω⋅m.

There was a great deal of interest in radio waves in the physics community, but this interest was in the scientific phenomenon, not in its potential as a communication method. Physicists generally looked on radio waves as an invisible form of light that could only travel along a line of sight path, limiting its range to the visual horizon like existing forms of visual signaling. [22] Hertz's death in 1894 brought published reviews of his earlier discoveries including a demonstration on the transmission and detection of radio waves by the British physicist Oliver Lodge and an article about Hertz's work by Augusto Righi. Righi's article renewed Marconi's interest in developing a wireless telegraphy system based on radio waves, [23] a line of inquiry that Marconi noted that other inventors did not seem to be pursuing. [10]

Line-of-sight propagation characteristic of electromagnetic radiation or acoustic wave propagation which means waves which travel in a direct path from the source to the receiver

Line-of-sight propagation is a characteristic of electromagnetic radiation or acoustic wave propagation which means waves travel in a direct path from the source to the receiver. Electromagnetic transmission includes light emissions traveling in a straight line. The rays or waves may be diffracted, refracted, reflected, or absorbed by the atmosphere and obstructions with material and generally cannot travel over the horizon or behind obstacles.

Oliver Lodge British physicist

Sir Oliver Joseph Lodge, was a British physicist and writer involved in the development of, and holder of key patents for, radio. He identified electromagnetic radiation independent of Hertz's proof and at his 1894 Royal Institution lectures, Lodge demonstrated an early radio wave detector he named the "coherer". In 1898 he was awarded the "syntonic" patent by the United States Patent Office. Lodge was Principal of the University of Birmingham from 1900 to 1920.

Developing radio telegraphy

Marconi's first transmitter incorporating a monopole antenna. It consisted of an elevated copper sheet (top) connected to a Righi spark gap (left) powered by an induction coil (center) with a telegraph key (right) to switch it on and off to spell out text messages in Morse code. Marconi's first radio transmitter.jpg
Marconi's first transmitter incorporating a monopole antenna. It consisted of an elevated copper sheet (top) connected to a Righi spark gap (left) powered by an induction coil (center) with a telegraph key (right) to switch it on and off to spell out text messages in Morse code.

At the age of 20, Marconi began to conduct experiments in radio waves, building much of his own equipment in the attic of his home at the Villa Griffone in Pontecchio (now an administrative subdivision of Sasso Marconi), Italy with the help of his butler Mignani. Marconi built on Hertz's original experiments and, at the suggestion of Righi, began using a coherer, an early detector based on the 1890 findings of French physicist Edouard Branly and used in Lodge's experiments, that changed resistance when exposed to radio waves. [24] In the summer of 1894, he built a storm alarm made up of a battery, a coherer, and an electric bell, which went off when it picked up the radio waves generated by lightning.

Late one night, in December 1894, Marconi demonstrated a radio transmitter and receiver to his mother, a set-up that made a bell ring on the other side of the room by pushing a telegraphic button on a bench. [25] [24] Supported by his father, Marconi continued to read through the literature and picked up on the ideas of physicists who were experimenting with radio waves. He developed devices, such as portable transmitters and receiver systems, that could work over long distances, [10] turning what was essentially a laboratory experiment into a useful communication system. [26] Marconi came up with a functional system with many components: [27]

  • A relatively simple oscillator or spark-producing radio transmitter;
  • A wire or metal sheet capacity area suspended at a height above the ground;
  • A coherer receiver, which was a modification of Edouard Branly's original device with refinements to increase sensitivity and reliability;
  • A telegraph key to operate the transmitter to send short and long pulses, corresponding to the dots-and-dashes of Morse code; and
  • A telegraph register activated by the coherer which recorded the received Morse code dots and dashes onto a roll of paper tape.

In the summer of 1895, Marconi moved his experiments outdoors on his father's estate in Bologna. He tried different arrangements and shapes of antenna but even with improvements he was able to transmit signals only up to one half mile, a distance Oliver Lodge had predicted in 1894 as the maximum transmission distance for radio waves. [28]

Transmission breakthrough

A breakthrough came in the summer of 1895, when Marconi found that much greater range could be achieved after he raised the height of his antenna and, borrowing from a technique used in wired telegraphy, grounding his transmitter and receiver. With these improvements, the system was capable of transmitting signals up to 2 miles (3.2 km) and over hills. [29] [30] The monopole antenna reduced the frequency of the waves compared to the dipole antennas used by Hertz, and radiated vertically polarized radio waves which could travel longer distances. By this point, he concluded that a device could become capable of spanning greater distances, with additional funding and research, and would prove valuable both commercially and militarily. Marconi's experimental apparatus proved to be the first engineering-complete, commercially successful radio transmission system. [31] [32] [33]

Marconi wrote to the Ministry of Post and Telegraphs, then under the direction of 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. [34]

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 his extraordinary discoveries. In his response, Ambassador Ferrero advised them not to reveal Marconi's results until after a patent was obtained. He also encouraged Marconi to come to England where he believed it would be easier to find the necessary funds to convert his experiments into practical use. Finding little interest or appreciation for his work in Italy, Marconi travelled to London in early 1896 at the age of 21, accompanied by his mother, to seek support for his work. (He spoke fluent English in addition to Italian.) Marconi arrived at Dover, and the Customs officer opened his case to find various apparatus. The customs officer immediately contacted the Admiralty in London. While there, Marconi gained the interest and support of William Preece, the Chief Electrical Engineer of the British Post Office.

The British become interested

British Post Office engineers inspect Marconi's radio equipment during a demonstration on Flat Holm Island, 13 May 1897. The transmitter is at centre, the coherer receiver below it, and the pole supporting the wire antenna is visible at top. Post Office Engineers.jpg
British Post Office engineers inspect Marconi's radio equipment during a demonstration on Flat Holm Island, 13 May 1897. The transmitter is at centre, the coherer receiver below it, and the pole supporting the wire antenna is visible at top.

Marconi made the first demonstration of his system for the British government in July 1896. [35] A further series of demonstrations for the British followed, and, by March 1897, Marconi had transmitted Morse code signals over a distance of about 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) across Salisbury Plain. On 13 May 1897, Marconi sent the first ever wireless communication over open sea – a message was transmitted over the Bristol Channel from Flat Holm Island to Lavernock Point in Penarth, a distance of 6 kilometres (3.7 mi). The message read "Are you ready". [36] The transmitting equipment was almost immediately relocated to Brean Down Fort on the Somerset coast, stretching the range to 16 kilometres (9.9 mi).

Plaque on the outside of the BT Centre commemorates Marconi's first public transmission of wireless signals. Marconi in London.jpg
Plaque on the outside of the BT Centre commemorates Marconi's first public transmission of wireless signals.

Impressed by these and other demonstrations, Preece introduced Marconi's ongoing work to the general public at two important London lectures: "Telegraphy without Wires", at the Toynbee Hall on 11 December 1896; and "Signalling through Space without Wires", given to the Royal Institution on 4 June 1897.

Numerous additional demonstrations followed, and Marconi began to receive international attention. In July 1897, he carried out a series of tests at La Spezia, in his home country, for the Italian government. A test for Lloyds between Ballycastle and Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland, was conducted on 6 July 1898. A transmission across the English channel was accomplished on 27 March 1899, from Wimereux, France to South Foreland Lighthouse, England. Marconi set up an experimental base at the Haven Hotel, Sandbanks, Poole Harbour, Dorset, where he erected a 100-foot high mast. He became friends with the van Raaltes, the owners of Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour, and his sailing boat, the Elettra, was often moored on Brownsea or at the Haven Hotel when he was not conducting experiments at sea.

In December 1898, the British lightship service authorized the establishment of wireless communication between the South Foreland lighthouse at Dover and the East Goodwin lightship, twelve miles distant. On 17 March 1899, the East Goodwin lightship sent a signal on behalf of the merchant vessel Elbe which had run aground on Goodwin Sands. The message was received by the radio operator of the South Foreland lighthouse, who summoned the aid of the Ramsgate lifeboat. [37] [38]

SS Ponce entering New York Harbor 1899, by Milton J. Burns SS Ponce Entering New York Harbor 1899, by Milton J. Burns.jpg
SS Ponce entering New York Harbor 1899, by Milton J. Burns

In the autumn of 1899, the first demonstrations in the United States took place. Marconi had sailed to the U.S. at the invitation of the New York Herald newspaper to cover the America's Cup international yacht races off Sandy Hook, New Jersey. The transmission was done aboard the SS Ponce, a passenger ship of the Porto Rico Line. [39] Marconi left for England on 8 November 1899 on the American Line's SS Saint Paul, and he and his assistants installed wireless equipment aboard during the voyage. On 15 November Saint Paul became the first ocean liner to report her imminent return to Great Britain by wireless when Marconi's Royal Needles Hotel radio station contacted her 66 nautical miles off the English coast.

Transatlantic transmissions

Marconi watching associates raising the kite (a "Levitor" by B.F.S. Baden-Powell ) used to lift the antenna at St. John's, Newfoundland, December 1901 Marconi at newfoundland.jpg
Marconi watching associates raising the kite (a "Levitor" by B.F.S. Baden-Powell ) used to lift the antenna at St. John's, Newfoundland, December 1901
Magnetic detector by Marconi used during the experimental campaign aboard a ship in summer 1902, exhibited at the Museo nazionale della scienza e della tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci of Milan. Detector magnetico Marconi 1902 - Museo scienza e tecnologia Milano.jpg
Magnetic detector by Marconi used during the experimental campaign aboard a ship in summer 1902, exhibited at the Museo nazionale della scienza e della tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci of Milan.

At the turn of the 20th century, Marconi began investigating a means to signal across the Atlantic in order to compete with the transatlantic telegraph cables. Marconi established a wireless transmitting station at Marconi House, Rosslare Strand, Co. Wexford in 1901 to act as a link between Poldhu in Cornwall, England and Clifden in Co. Galway, Ireland. He soon made the announcement that the message was received at Signal Hill in St John's, Newfoundland (now part of Canada) on 12 December 1901, using a 500-foot (150 m) kite-supported antenna for reception—signals transmitted by the company's new high-power station at Poldhu, Cornwall. The distance between the two points was about 2,200 miles (3,500 km). It was heralded as a great scientific advance, yet there also was—and continues to be—considerable scepticism about this claim. The exact wavelength used is not known, but it is fairly reliably determined to have been in the neighbourhood of 350 meters (frequency ≈850 kHz). The tests took place at a time of day during which the entire transatlantic path was in daylight. It is now known (although Marconi did not know then) that this was the worst possible choice. At this medium wavelength, long-distance transmission in the daytime is not possible because of heavy absorption of the skywave in the ionosphere. It was not a blind test; Marconi knew in advance to listen for a repetitive signal of three clicks, signifying the Morse code letter S. The clicks were reported to have been heard faintly and sporadically. There was no independent confirmation of the reported reception, and the transmissions were difficult to distinguish from atmospheric noise. A detailed technical review of Marconi's early transatlantic work appears in John S. Belrose's work of 1995. The Poldhu transmitter was a two-stage circuit. [41] [42]

Marconi demonstrating apparatus he used in his first long distance radio transmissions in the 1890s. The transmitter is at right, the receiver with paper tape recorder at left. Guglielmo Marconi 1901 wireless signal.jpg
Marconi demonstrating apparatus he used in his first long distance radio transmissions in the 1890s. The transmitter is at right, the receiver with paper tape recorder at left.
Marconi caricatured by Leslie Ward for Vanity Fair, 1905 Guglielmo, Marchese Marconi. Colour lithograph by Sir L. War Wellcome V0003849.jpg
Marconi caricatured by Leslie Ward for Vanity Fair , 1905

Feeling challenged by skeptics, Marconi prepared a better organised and documented test. In February 1902, the SS Philadelphia sailed west from Great Britain with Marconi aboard, carefully recording signals sent daily from the Poldhu station. The test results produced coherer-tape reception up to 1,550 miles (2,490 km), and audio reception up to 2,100 miles (3,400 km). The maximum distances were achieved at night, and these tests were the first to show that radio signals for medium wave and longwave transmissions travel much farther at night than in the day. During the daytime, signals had been received up to only about 700 miles (1,100 km), less than half of the distance claimed earlier at Newfoundland, where the transmissions had also taken place during the day. Because of this, Marconi had not fully confirmed the Newfoundland claims, although he did prove that radio signals could be sent for hundreds of kilometres, despite some scientists' belief that they were limited essentially to line-of-sight distances.

On 17 December 1902, a transmission from the Marconi station in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, Canada became the world's first radio message to cross the Atlantic from North America. In 1901, Marconi built a station near South Wellfleet, Massachusetts that sent a message of greetings on 18 January 1903 from United States President Theodore Roosevelt to King Edward VII of the United Kingdom. However, consistent transatlantic signalling was difficult to establish.

Marconi began to build high-powered stations on both sides of the Atlantic to communicate with ships at sea, in competition with other inventors. In 1904, he established a commercial service to transmit nightly news summaries to subscribing ships, which could incorporate them into their on-board newspapers. A regular transatlantic radio-telegraph service was finally begun on 17 October 1907 [43] [44] between Clifden, Ireland and Glace Bay, but even after this the company struggled for many years to provide reliable communication to others.

Titanic

The role played by Marconi Co. wireless in maritime rescues raised public awareness of the value of radio and brought fame to Marconi, particularly the sinking of the RMS Titanic on 15 April 1912 and the RMS Lusitania on 7 May 1915.

RMS Titanic radio operators Jack Phillips and Harold Bride were not employed by the White Star Line but by the Marconi International Marine Communication Company. After the sinking of the ocean liner on 15 April 1912, survivors were rescued by the RMS Carpathia of the Cunard Line. [45] Also employed by the Marconi Company was David Sarnoff, who later headed RCA. Wireless communications were reportedly maintained for 72 hours between Carpathia and Sarnoff, [46] but Sarnoff's involvement has been questioned by some modern historians. When Carpathia docked in New York, Marconi went aboard with a reporter from The New York Times to talk with Bride, the surviving operator. [45]

On 18 June 1912, Marconi gave evidence to the Court of Inquiry into the loss of Titanic regarding the marine telegraphy's functions and the procedures for emergencies at sea. [47] Britain's postmaster-general summed up, referring to the Titanic disaster: "Those who have been saved, have been saved through one man, Mr. Marconi ... and his marvellous invention." [48] Marconi was offered free passage on Titanic before she sank, but had taken Lusitania three days earlier. As his daughter Degna later explained, he had paperwork to do and preferred the public stenographer aboard that vessel. [49]

Continuing work

Over the years, the Marconi companies gained a reputation for being technically conservative, in particular by continuing to use inefficient spark-transmitter technology, which could be used only for radio-telegraph operations, long after it was apparent that the future of radio communication lay with continuous-wave transmissions which were more efficient and could be used for audio transmissions. Somewhat belatedly, the company did begin significant work with continuous-wave equipment beginning in 1915, after the introduction of the oscillating vacuum tube (valve). The New Street Works factory in Chelmsford was the location for the first entertainment radio broadcasts in the United Kingdom in 1920, employing a vacuum tube transmitter and featuring Dame Nellie Melba. In 1922, regular entertainment broadcasts commenced from the Marconi Research Centre at Great Baddow, forming the prelude to the BBC, and he spoke of the close association of aviation and wireless telephony in that same year at a private gathering with Florence Tyzack Parbury, and even spoke of interplanetary wireless communication.

Later years

Have I done the world good, or have I added a menace? [50]
Marconi with his wife c. 1910 Marconi portrait.jpg
Marconi with his wife c. 1910

In 1914, Marconi was made a Senator in the Senate of the Kingdom of Italy and appointed Honorary Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order in the UK. During World War I, Italy joined the Allied side of the conflict, and Marconi was placed in charge of the Italian military's radio service. He attained the rank of lieutenant in the Royal Italian Army and of commander in the Regia Marina. In 1929, he was made a marquess by King Victor Emmanuel III.

Marconi joined the Italian Fascist party in 1923. In 1930, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini appointed him President of the Royal Academy of Italy, which made Marconi a member of the Fascist Grand Council.

While helping to develop microwave technology, Marconi suffered nine heart attacks in the span of 3 years preceding his death. [51] Marconi died in Rome on 20 July 1937 at age 63, following the ninth, fatal, heart attack, and Italy held a state funeral for him. As a tribute, shops on the street where he lived were "Closed for national mourning". [52] In addition, at 6 pm the next day, the time designated for the funeral, all BBC transmitters and wireless Post Office transmitters in the British Isles observed two minutes of silence in his honour. The British Post Office also sent a message requesting that all broadcasting ships honour Marconi with two minutes of broadcasting silence as well. [52] His remains are housed in the Villa Griffone at Sasso Marconi, Emilia-Romagna, which assumed that name in his honour in 1938. [53] [54]

In 1943, Marconi's elegant sailing yacht, the Elettra, was commandeered and re-fitted as a warship by the German Navy. She was sunk by the RAF on 22 January 1944. After the war, the Italian Government tried to retrieve the wreckage, to rebuild the boat, and the wreckage was removed to Italy. Eventually, the idea was abandoned, and the wreckage was cut into pieces which were distributed amongst Italian museums.

In 1943, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down a decision on Marconi's radio patents restoring some of the prior patents of Oliver Lodge, John Stone Stone, and Nikola Tesla. [55] [56] The decision was not about Marconi's original radio patents [57] and the court declared that their decision had no bearing on Marconi's claim as the first to achieve radio transmission, just that since Marconi's claim to certain patents were questionable, he could not claim infringement on those same patents. [58] There are claims the high court was trying to nullify a World War I claim against the United States government by the Marconi Company via simply restoring the non-Marconi prior patent. [55]

Personal life

American electrical engineer Alfred Norton Goldsmith and Marconi on 26 June 1922. Alfred Norton Goldsmith & Guglielmo Marconi 1922.jpg
American electrical engineer Alfred Norton Goldsmith and Marconi on 26 June 1922.

Marconi was a friend of Charles van Raalte and his wife Florence, the owners of Brownsea Island; and of Margherita, their daughter, and in 1904 he met her friend, Beatrice O'Brien (1882–1976), a daughter of The 14th Baron Inchiquin. On 16 March 1905, Beatrice O'Brien and Marconi were married, and spent their honeymoon on Brownsea Island. [59] They had three daughters, Degna (1908–1998), Gioia (1916–1996), and Lucia (born and died 1906), and a son, Giulio, 2nd Marchese Marconi (1910–1971). In 1913, the Marconis returned to Italy and became part of Rome society. Beatrice served as a lady-in-waiting to Queen Elena. At Marconi's request, his marriage to Beatrice was annulled on 27 April 1927, so he could remarry. [60] Marconi and Beatrice had divorced on 12 February 1924 in the free city of Fiume (Rijeka).

Marconi went on to marry Maria Cristina Bezzi-Scali (1900–1994), the only daughter of Francesco, Count Bezzi-Scali. To do this he had to be confirmed in the Catholic faith and became a devout member of the Church. [61] He was baptised Catholic but had been brought up as a member of the Anglican Church. On 12 June 1927 Marconi married Maria Cristina in a civil service, with a religious ceremony performed on 15 June. They had one daughter, Maria Elettra Elena Anna (born 1930), who married Prince Carlo Giovannelli (1942–2016) in 1966; they later divorced. For unexplained reasons, Marconi left his entire fortune to his second wife and their only child, and nothing to the children of his first marriage. [62]

Later in life, Marconi was an active Italian Fascist [63] and an apologist for their ideology and actions such as the attack by Italian forces in Ethiopia.[ citation needed ]

In his lecture he stated: «I reclaim the honor of being the first fascist in the field of radiotelegraphy, the first who acknowledged the utility of joining the electric rays in a bundle, as Mussolini was the first in the political field who acknowledged the necessity of merging all the healthy energies of the country into a bundle, for the greater greatness of Italy». [64]

Marconi wanted to personally introduce in 1931 the first radio broadcast of a Pope, Pius XI, and did announce at the microphone: "With the help of God, who places so many mysterious forces of nature at man's disposal, I have been able to prepare this instrument which will give to the faithful of the entire world the joy of listening to the voice of the Holy Father". [65]

Legacy and honours

Honours and awards

Memorial plaque in the Basilica Santa Croce, Florence. Italy Memorial plaque in honor of Guglielmo Marconi in the Basilica Santa Croce, Florence. Italy.jpg
Memorial plaque in the Basilica Santa Croce, Florence. Italy

Tributes

Guglielmo Marconi Memorial in Washington, D.C. Guglielmo Marconi Memorial.JPG
Guglielmo Marconi Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Places and organisations named after Marconi

Outer space

The asteroid 1332 Marconia is named in his honour. A large crater on the far side of the moon is also named after him.

Europe

Italy
Sweden
  • The street Marconigatan in Frölunda in Gothenburg.

Oceania

Australia

North America

Canada

As of 2016 the Canadian Marconi Company and CMC Electronics no longer exist. Most bought up by Esterline in Ottawa. The Marine Service Group was acquired by MacKay Marine but many of the employees left the group at transition.

United States
California
Massachusetts
New Jersey
New York
Pennsylvania

Patents

British patents

  • British patent No. 12,039 (1897) "Improvements in Transmitting Electrical impulses and Signals, and in Apparatus therefor". Date of Application 2 June 1896; Complete Specification Left, 2 March 1897; Accepted, 2 July 1897 (later claimed by Oliver Lodge to contain his own ideas which he failed to patent).
  • British patent No. 7,777 (1900) "Improvements in Apparatus for Wireless Telegraphy". Date of Application 26 April 1900; Complete Specification Left, 25 February 1901; Accepted, 13 April 1901.
  • British patent No. 10245 (1902)
  • British patent No. 5113 (1904) "Improvements in Transmitters suitable for Wireless Telegraphy". Date of Application 1 March 1904; Complete Specification Left, 30 November 1904; Accepted, 19 January August 1905.
  • British patent No. 21640 (1904) "Improvements in Apparatus for Wireless Telegraphy". Date of Application 8 October 1904; Complete Specification Left, 6 July 1905; Accepted, 10 August 1905.
  • British patent No. 14788 (1904) "Improvements in or relating to Wireless Telegraphy". Date of Application 18 July 1905; Complete Specification Left, 23 January 1906; Accepted, 10 May 1906.

US patents

Reissued (US)

  • U.S. Patent RE11,913 "Transmitting electrical impulses and signals and in apparatus, there-for". Filed 1 April 1901; Issued 4 June 1901.

See also

Related Research Articles

John Ambrose Fleming Electrical engineer and physicist

Sir John Ambrose Fleming FRS was an English electrical engineer and physicist who invented the first thermionic valve or vacuum tube, designed the radio transmitter with which the first transatlantic radio transmission was made, and also established the right-hand rule used in physics. He was the eldest of seven children of James Fleming DD, a Congregational minister, and his wife Mary Ann, at Lancaster, Lancashire, and baptised on 11 February 1850. A devout Christian, he once preached at St Martin-in-the-Fields in London on evidence for the resurrection. In 1932, he and Douglas Dewar and Bernard Acworth helped establish the Evolution Protest Movement. Fleming bequeathed much of his estate to Christian charities, especially those for the poor. He was a noted photographer, painted water colours, and enjoyed climbing the Alps.

Karl Ferdinand Braun German inventor and physicist (1909 Nobel Prize)

Karl Ferdinand Braun was a German inventor, physicist and Nobel laureate in physics. Braun contributed significantly to the development of radio and television technology: he shared the 1909 Nobel Prize in Physics with Guglielmo Marconi "for their contributions to the development of wireless telegraphy".

The early history of radio is the history of technology that produces and uses radio instruments that use radio waves. Within the timeline of radio, many people contributed theory and inventions in what became radio. Radio development began as "wireless telegraphy". Later radio history increasingly involves matters of broadcasting.

Telegraphy long distance transmission of textual/symbolic messages without the physical exchange of an object

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Reginald Fessenden Canadian radio pioneer

Reginald Aubrey Fessenden was a Canadian-born inventor, who did a majority of his work in the United States and also claimed U.S. citizenship through his American-born father. During his life he received hundreds of patents in various fields, most notably ones related to radio and sonar.

Skywave propagation of radio waves via the ionosphere

In radio communication, skywave or skip refers to the propagation of radio waves reflected or refracted back toward Earth from the ionosphere, an electrically charged layer of the upper atmosphere. Since it is not limited by the curvature of the Earth, skywave propagation can be used to communicate beyond the horizon, at intercontinental distances. It is mostly used in the shortwave frequency bands.

Amos Dolbear American physicist

Amos Emerson Dolbear was an American physicist and inventor. Dolbear researched electrical spark conversion into sound waves and electrical impulses. He was a professor at University of Kentucky in Lexington from 1868 until 1874. In 1874 he became the chair of the physics department at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. He is known for his 1882 invention of a system for transmitting telegraph signals without wires. In 1899 his patent for it was purchased in an unsuccessful attempt to interfere with Guglielmo Marconi's wireless telegraphy patents in the United States.

Alexander Stepanovich Popov Russian physicist

Alexander Stepanovich Popov was a Russian physicist, who was one of the first persons to invent a radio receiving device.

Spark-gap transmitter

A spark-gap transmitter is an obsolete type of radio transmitter which generates radio waves by means of an electric spark. Spark-gap transmitters were the first type of radio transmitter, and were the main type used during the wireless telegraphy or "spark" era, the first three decades of radio, from 1887 to the end of World War 1. German physicist Heinrich Hertz built the first experimental spark-gap transmitters in 1887, with which he discovered radio waves and studied their properties.

Jozef Murgaš slovak entomologist, painter, inventor and roman catholic priest

Jozef Murgaš was a Slovak inventor, architect, botanist, painter and Roman Catholic priest. He contributed to wireless telegraphy and helped in the development of mobile communications and the wireless transmission of information and the human voice.

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Magnetic detector

The magnetic detector or Marconi magnetic detector, sometimes called the "Maggie", was an early radio wave detector used in some of the first radio receivers to receive Morse code messages during the wireless telegraphy era around the turn of the 20th century. Developed in 1902 by radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi from a method invented in 1895 by New Zealand physicist Ernest Rutherford it was used in Marconi wireless stations until around 1912, when it was superseded by vacuum tubes. It was widely used on ships because of its reliability and insensitivity to vibration. A magnetic detector was part of the wireless apparatus in the radio room of the RMS Titanic which was used to summon help during its famous 15 April 1912 sinking.

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Arthur Moore was a Welsh wireless operator who heard a distress signal from RMS Titanic before news of the disaster arrived in the UK. Following the notoriety of this feat he went on to a successful career in sales, management and development of early radio.

Harry Shoemaker American inventor

Harry Shoemaker was an American inventor and pioneer radio engineer, who received more than 40 U.S. patents in the radio field from 1901 to 1905. His transmitter and receiver designs set the standard for the U. S. commercial radio industry up to World War One.

World Wireless System

The World Wireless System was a turn of the 20th century proposed telecommunications and electrical power delivery system designed by inventor Nikola Tesla based on his theories of using Earth and its atmosphere as electrical conductors. He claimed this system would allow for "the transmission of electric energy without wires" on a global scale as well as point-to-point wireless telecommunications and broadcasting. He made public statements citing two related methods to accomplish this from the mid-1890s on. By the end of 1900 he had convinced banker J. P. Morgan to finance construction of a wireless station based on his ideas intended to transmit messages across the Atlantic to England and to ships at sea. His decision to change the design to include wireless power transmission to better compete with Guglielmo Marconi's new radio based telegraph system was met with Morgan's refusal to fund the changes. The project was abandoned in 1906, never to become operational.

Eugène Adrien Ducretet Scientific instrument maker

Eugène Adrien Ducretet was a French scientific instrument manufacturer, who performed some of the first experiments on wireless telegraphy in France. His father, Louis Joseph Ducretet, was a Savoy textiles merchant who moved to Paris. He never completed a formal education, leaving primary school at age 15. After several years apprenticed to Paris engineer Paul-Gustav Froment, Ducretet opened his own workshop in 1864 at 21 Rue des Ursulines where with a few employees he manufactured classical physics research, teaching and demonstration apparatus, such as galvanometers, Wimshurst machines, and Crookes tubes. Over time his reputation grew and he became instrument supplier to several large Paris educational and scientific institutions. He was awarded a gold medal for his quality instruments at the 1878 Paris Universal Exposition and from then on his firm was a regular presence at important international expositions, winning another gold at the 1881 International Electricity Exposition in Paris. He was made a Knight of the Legion of Honour in 1885.

References

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Sources

Further reading

Relatives and company publications
Other
Wikimedia
General achievements
Foundations and academics
Multimedia and books
Transatlantic "signals" and radio
Keys and "signals"
Priority of invention

vs Tesla

Personal
Other
Academic offices
Preceded by
Jan Smuts
Rector of the University of St Andrews
1934–1937
Succeeded by
Robert MacGregor Mitchell