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Marconi, Marchese Guglielmo

Born: April 25, 1874

Engineer, inventor of radio
Born in Bologna, Italy.

In 1894 Marconi read that Heinrich Hertz, by inducing an electric spark to jump across a gap, had produced invisible waves that travel through space. Marconi realized that the waves might be used to send wireless messages similar to the dot-and-dash messages sent by telegraphs. He began experimenting and within a year was sending messages over distances of more than a mile (1.6 km).

Widespread use of radio was assured on December 12, 1901, when assistants in England sent the first transatlantic signals to Marconi in Newfoundland, a distance of some 4800 km (3,000 miles).

Who invented the radio?

Marconi's claim that he invented the radio was always disputed by Nikola Tesla and Alexander Popov.

Marconi did develop a practical model and was responsible for the first successful exploitation of the invention practically at the same time with Alexander Popov, who described his findings in a paper published in 1895. Popov publicly demonstrated the transmission of radio waves between different campus buildings to the St Petersburg Physical Society in March 1896. Actually, Marconi publicly demonstrated his system several months later, in September. Upon learning about Marconi's experiments, Popov effected ship-to-shore communication over a distance of 6 miles in 1898 and 30 miles in 1899. He died in 1905 and his claim was not pressed by the Russian government until 40 years later.

Tesla initally held the rights to radio, but the the US Patent Office reversed its decision and awarded Marconi the patent for radio. Tesla fought to re-acquire his radio patent. A lawsuit regarding this was resolved by American courts in Tesla's favor (1943). This decision was based on the fact that there was prior work existing before the establishment of Marconi's patent (developed by Tesla). At the time, the United States Army was involved in a patent infringement lawsuit with Marconi's company regarding radio, leading some to posit that the government granted Tesla the patent on order to nullify any claims Marconi would have to compensation (as, some posit, the government's initial reversal to grant Marconi the patent right in order to nullify any claims Tesla had for compensation).


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