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The timeline of radio lists within the history of radio, the technology and events that produced instruments that use radio waves and activities that people undertook. Later, the history is dominated by programming and contents, which is closer to general history.
Although development of the first radio wave communication system is attributed to Guglielmo Marconi, his was just the practical application of 80 years of scientific advancement in the field including the predictions of Michael Faraday, the theoretical work of James Clerk Maxwell, and the experimental demonstrations of Heinrich Rudolf Hertz.
Using various patents, the " Marconi Company " was established and began communication between coast radio stations and ships at sea. This company, along with its subsidiary Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of America, had a stranglehold on ship to shore communication. It operated much the way American Telephone and Telegraph operated until 1983, owning all of its own equipment and refusing to communicate with non-Marconi equipped ships. Around the turn of the century, the Slaby-Arco wireless system was developed by Adolf Slaby and Georg von Arco (later incorporated into Telefunken).
Telegraphy did not go away on radio. Instead, the degree of automation increased. On land-lines in the 1930s, Teletypewriters automated encoding, and were adapted to pulse-code dialing to automate routing, a service called telex. For thirty years, telex was the absolute cheapest form of long-distance communication, because up to 25 telex channels could occupy the same bandwidth as one voice channel. For business and government, it was an advantage that telex directly produced written documents.
Telex systems were adapted to short-wave radio by sending tones over single sideband. CCITT R.44 (the most advanced pure-telex standard) incorporated character-level error detection and retransmission as well as automated encoding and routing. For many years, telex-on-radio (TOR) was the only reliable way to reach some third-world countries. TOR remains reliable, though less-expensive forms of e-mail are displacing it. Many national telecom companies historically ran nearly pure telex networks for their governments, and they ran many of these links over short wave radio.
Guglielmo Giovanni Maria Marconi, 1st Marquis of Marconi was an Italian inventor and electrical engineer, known for his creation of a practical radio wave–based wireless telegraph system. This led to Marconi being 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".
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.
Wireless telegraphy or radiotelegraphy is transmission of text messages by radio waves, analogous to electrical telegraphy using cables. Before about 1910, the term wireless telegraphy was also used for other experimental technologies for transmitting telegraph signals without wires. In radiotelegraphy, information is transmitted by pulses of radio waves of two different lengths called "dots" and "dashes", which spell out text messages, usually in Morse code. In a manual system, the sending operator taps on a switch called a telegraph key which turns the transmitter on and off, producing the pulses of radio waves. At the receiver the pulses are audible in the receiver's speaker as beeps, which are translated back to text by an operator who knows Morse code.
In electronics and telecommunications, a radio transmitter or just transmitter is an electronic device which produces radio waves with an antenna. The transmitter itself generates a radio frequency alternating current, which is applied to the antenna. When excited by this alternating current, the antenna radiates radio waves.
The coherer was a primitive form of radio signal detector used in the first radio receivers during the wireless telegraphy era at the beginning of the 20th century. Its use in radio was based on the 1890 findings of French physicist Édouard Branly and adapted by other physicists and inventors over the next ten years. The device consists of a tube or capsule containing two electrodes spaced a small distance apart with loose metal filings in the space between. When a radio frequency signal is applied to the device, the metal particles would cling together or "cohere", reducing the initial high resistance of the device, thereby allowing a much greater direct current to flow through it. In a receiver, the current would activate a bell, or a Morse paper tape recorder to make a record of the received signal. The metal filings in the coherer remained conductive after the signal (pulse) ended so that the coherer had to be "decohered" by tapping it with a clapper actuated by an electromagnet, each time a signal was received, thereby restoring the coherer to its original state. Coherers remained in widespread use until about 1907, when they were replaced by more sensitive electrolytic and crystal detectors.
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.
In radio communications, a radio receiver, also known as a receiver, a wireless, or simply a radio, is an electronic device that receives radio waves and converts the information carried by them to a usable form. It is used with an antenna. The antenna intercepts radio waves and converts them to tiny alternating currents which are applied to the receiver, and the receiver extracts the desired information. The receiver uses electronic filters to separate the desired radio frequency signal from all the other signals picked up by the antenna, an electronic amplifier to increase the power of the signal for further processing, and finally recovers the desired information through demodulation.
Alexander Stepanovich Popov was a Russian physicist who was one of the first people to invent a radio receiving device.
David Edward Hughes, was a British-American inventor, practical experimenter, and professor of music known for his work on the printing telegraph and the microphone. He is generally considered to have been born in London but his family moved around that time so he may have been born in Corwen, Wales. His family moved to the U.S. while he was a child and he became a professor of music in Kentucky. In 1855 he patented a printing telegraph. He moved back to London in 1857 and further pursued experimentation and invention, coming up with an improved carbon microphone in 1878. In 1879 he identified what seemed to be a new phenomenon during his experiments: sparking in one device could be heard in a separate portable microphone apparatus he had set up. It was most probably radio transmissions but this was nine years before electromagnetic radiation was a proven concept and Hughes was convinced by others that his discovery was simply electromagnetic induction.
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 I. German physicist Heinrich Hertz built the first experimental spark-gap transmitters in 1887, with which he proved the existence of radio waves and studied their properties.
John Stone Stone was an American mathematician, physicist and inventor. He initially worked in telephone research, followed by influential work developing early radio technology, where he was especially known for improvements in tuning. Despite his often advanced designs, the Stone Telegraph and Telephone Company failed in 1908, and he spent the remainder of his career as an engineering consultant.
Édouard Eugène Désiré Branly was a French inventor, physicist and professor at the Institut Catholique de Paris. He is primarily known for his early involvement in wireless telegraphy and his invention of the Branly coherer around 1890.
The invention of radio communication was preceded by many decades of establishing theoretical underpinnings, discovery and experimental investigation of radio waves, and engineering and technical developments related to their transmission and detection. These developments allowed Guglielmo Marconi to turn radio waves into a wireless communication system.
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.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to radio:
Radio is the technology of communicating using radio waves. Radio waves are electromagnetic waves of frequency between 3 hertz (Hz) and 300 gigahertz (GHz). They are generated by an electronic device called a transmitter connected to an antenna which radiates the waves. They are received by another antenna connected to a radio receiver. In addition to communication, radio is used for radar, radio navigation, remote control, remote sensing, and other applications.
Archie Frederick Collins, who generally went by A. Frederick Collins, was a prominent early American experimenter in wireless telephony and prolific author of books and articles covering a wide range of scientific and technical subjects. His reputation was tarnished in 1913 when he was convicted of mail fraud related to stock promotion. However, after serving a year in prison, he returned to writing, including, beginning in 1922, The Radio Amateur's Handbook, which continued to be updated and published until the mid-1980s.
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.
The Compagnie générale de la télégraphie sans fil was a French company founded in 1918 during a reorganization and expansion of the Société française radio-électrique (SFR), which became a subsidiary. The company developed technology for radio-telegraphy, radio program transmission, radar, television and other applications. It provided broadcasting and telegraphy services, and sold its equipment throughout the French colonial empire and in many other parts of the world. In 1968 CSF merged with the Thomson-Brandt to form Thomson-CSF.
Nikola Tesla patented the Tesla coil circuit on April 25, 1891. and first publicly demonstrated it May 20, 1891 in his lecture "Experiments with Alternate Currents of Very High Frequency and Their Application to Methods of Artificial Illumination" before the American Institute of Electrical Engineers at Columbia College, New York. Although Tesla patented many similar circuits during this period, this was the first that contained all the elements of the Tesla coil: high voltage primary transformer, capacitor, spark gap, and air core "oscillation transformer".