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Cutting the wires

Posted by: | September 19, 2011 | No Comment |

While electrical telegraphy had proved beneficial since the early 1840s — even phasing out the Pony Express as the main news transmitter– there was one major imitation: wires.  The transmission was the fastest of its time. However, wires limited where that signal could be sent.

In order to send a message, telegraph wires had to connect the sending and receiving endpoints. This was not always convenient for people in secluded areas.

Guglielmo Marconi had the solution. Cut out the wires. Send the signal differently.

The beginnings of radio — wireless telegraphy — started humbly as an idea for transmitting a signal across a long distance without the use of tedious wires. Marconi believed that radio waves would have the necessary strength to transmit the message travelling through the air. Yet, he worried if the curves and magnetic fields of the earth may disrupt the message and impede upon its sending.

He gave himself the ultimate challenge. Transmit the message from one side of the Atlantic Ocean to the other. After one failed attempt, Marconi succeeded in 1901. He sent his radio message from Poldhu, Cornwall to Signal Hill, Newfoundland.

Since radio was still primitive at this point, the message was not an actual broadcast. Unlike radio signals of today, the message that Marconi received was a simple Morse code letter “S”.

This started another technology revolution. Eventually radio became an integral part of early 20th century life.

under: Comm 455
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