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Guglielmo Marconi


Guglielmo Marconi
Guglielmo Giovanni Maria Marconi was a famous and widely respected Italian inventor who pioneered the development of wireless communication and long-distance radio transmission.

Often credited as the inventor of radio, Marconi was actually an astute businessman who combined, and built upon, the work of other scientists to develop a commercially viable method of long-distance communication.
His interest in electricity and physics began at an early age, and he was inspired by the work of scientists like James Clerk Maxwell, Heinrich Hertz and Nikola Tesla, among others.
In 1894, Marconi read the work of German physicist Hertz, who had developed equipment to send and detect electromagnetic waves over short distances. Marconi saw the potential for transmitting information using radio waves and set about developing a longer-range system to replace wire-based telegraphy.
Marconi began his experiments at his father’s estate and with the help of his butler, Mignani, built equipment in the attic. Soon he could transmit radio waves over short distances, so he moved his experiments outdoors to develop the technology further. He found that increasing the length of the antennas – and arranging them vertically – increased the range of transmission so much that he was able to send and receive signals over distances of around 2.4 kilometres (1.5 miles).
It was at this point that Marconi began to see the potential commercial applications of his experiments. Italy already had a wellestablished telegraph system though, with networks of wires extending across the country, and his applications for funding were dismissed. Undeterred, Marconi travelled to the UK. Britain had a powerful Royal Navy and was the world’s greatest trading empire, and his thinking was that they might have use for his work in maritime communication.
Marconi gained the support of the engineerin-chief of the British Post Office and, with his help, demonstrated his technology to the British government. During his first few years in England he gradually improved the distance of radio transmission – first on land and then over sea. His work excited the international community and stations were set up in France for the first radio crossing of the Channel.
As his technology continued to evolve, ‘Marconi rooms’ were installed in ships, containing a suite of wireless telegraphy equipment which enabled communication with land as well as other vessels. The Marconi room aboard the RMS Titanic and its two Marconi wireless operators transmitted perhaps the most famous radio signals of all time: ‘CQD CQD SOS Titanic position 41.44 N 50.24 W. Require immediate assistance. Come at once. We struck an iceberg. Sinking’.
Marconi died in Rome in 1937 at the age of 63. He was given a state funeral and – as a tribute to his massive contribution to wireless communication – every radio station in the world fell silent for two minutes.

Guglielmo Marconi

Five facts: Guglielmo Marconi
1 Royal connections
Marconi installed radio equipment on Queen Victoria’s royal yacht so that she could communicate with the Prince of Wales (Edward VII) while travelling.
2 Educated but unqualified
Marconi had no formal scientificqualifications, but had a keen interest in physics. At the request of his mother, he was mentored by physicist Professor Augusto Righi, who introduced him to radio waves.
3 Are you ready?
The first radio transmission across the open sea was sent over the Bristol Channel and travelled a distance of just 6.4 kilometres (four miles). It read ‘Are you ready’.
4 High-speed Morse
To be employed as a wireless operator by Marconi’s Wireless Telegraph Company you had to be able to send and receive Morse code at a speed of 25 words per minute.
5 Lucky escape
Marconi was offered free passage on the famous doomed ship RMS Titanic, but decided to travel to America three days earlier on the RMS Lusitania because he had paperwork to do.