Guglielmo Marconi

Guglielmo Marconi

1 . Biography

Born 25 April 1874

Died 20 July 1937 (heart failure)

Birthplace Bologna, Italy

Best known as Italian pioneer of wireless telegraphy
Guglielmo Marconi was an IrishItalian inventor and entrepreneur who popularized wireless telegraphy early in the 20th century. One of the founding fathers of radio communication, Marconi got interested in 1894 in the electromagnetic wave experiments by H. R. Hertz. Working at his fathers estate, Marconi devised a working receiver and in 1895 sent and received radio waves over greater and greater distances. When the Italian government showed little interest in his operation, Marconi went to England, where he founded his own wireless telegraph company in 1897. He was awarded a patent for tuned or syntonic telegraphy (patent no. 7777) and set about proving that wireless telegraphy could be a benefit to society as well as a profitable enterprise. By 1902 Marconi had established that wireless communication was possible even across the Atlantic Ocean, even though his claim of the first successful transatlantic signal (from England to Newfoundland, December of 1901) was never independently verified. For patents in the U.S., Marconi was in competition with Nikola Tesla, who held the first patents until the United States Patent Office reversed itself in 1904 and gave Marconi credit for the radio. Marconi was from a wellconnected family (his mother, Anne Jameson, was the granddaughter of the founder of the distillery that makes Jameson Irish whiskey) and was able to develop and finance an expansion of his businesses. During the first part of the 1900s his company patented several inventions, including what became the standard wireless receiver for many years. Marconi got rich and in 1909 shared the Nobel Prize for Physics (with Karl Ferdinand Braun).

An Italian patriot, Marconi served in the armed forces during World War I and directed Italys radio service; after the war he was an Italian delegate to the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. During the 1920s he devoted his attention to short wave (microwave) communications (often working aboard his yacht Elettra) and became an active supporter and, later, member of Benito Mussolinis fascist government. Marconi was made a noble with the rank of marchese in 1929 and was given a state funeral after his death in 1937.

2 . Synopsis

Born in Bologna, Italy, in 1874, Guglielmo Marconi was a Nobel Prizewinning physicist and inventor credited with the groundbreaking work necessary for all future radio technology. Through his experiments in wireless telegraphy, Marconi developed the first effective system of radio communication. In 1899, he founded the Marconi Telegraph Company. In 1901, he successfully sent wireless signals across the Atlantic Ocean, disproving the dominant belief of the Earths curvature affecting transmission. Marconi shared with Karl Braun the 1909 Nobel Prize in Physics. He died in Rome in 1937.

3 . Early Life and Education

Born on April 25, 1874, in Bologna, Italy, into a wealthy family, and educated largely at home, Guglielmo Marconi began experimenting with electromagnetics as a student at the Livorno Technical Institute. Incorporating the earlier findings of H.R. Hertz, he was able to develop a basic system of wireless telegraphy, for which he received his first patent in England.

4 . Groundbreaking Work and Nobel Prize

Marconi founded the Londonbased Marconi Telegraph Company in 1899. Though his original transmission traveled a mere mile and a half, on December 12, 1901, Marconi sent and received the first wireless message across the Atlantic Ocean, from Cornwall, England, to a military base in Newfoundland. His experiment was significant, as it disproved the dominant belief of the Earths curvature affecting transmission.Beginning in 1902, Marconi worked on experiments that stretched the distance that wireless communication could travel, until he was finally able to establish transatlantic service from Glace Bay in Nova Scotia, Canada, to Clifden, Ireland. For his work with wireless communication, Marconi shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with Karl Braun in 1909. Not long after, Marconis wireless system was used by the crew of the RMS Titanic to call for assistance.

Marconi held several positions in the Italian Army and Navy during World War I, starting the war as a lieutenant in 1914 and finishing as a naval commander. He was sent on diplomatic missions to the United States and France. After the war, Marconi began experimenting with basic short wave radio technology. On his beloved yacht, Elettra, he conducted experiments in the 1920s proving the efficacy of the beam system for longdistance communication. (The next step would lead to microwave transmission.) By 1926, Marconis beam system had been adopted by the British government as a design for international communication.In addition to his groundbreaking research in wireless communication, Marconi was instrumental in establishing the British Broadcasting Company, formed in 1922. He was also involved in the development of radar.

5 . Later Years

Marconi continued to experiment with radio technology in his native Italy until his death, on July 20, 1937, in Rome, from heart failure.1943, the U.S. Supreme Court declared Marconis radio patent invalid because work by other scientists, including Nikola Tesla, predated some of his findings.

6 . Personal Life

Marconi married for the first time in 1905, to Beatrice OBrien, the daughter of Edward Donough OBrien, 14th Baron Inchiquin. He and Beatrice had three children a son, Giulio, and two daughters, Degna and Gioia before their union was annulled in 1927. That same year, Marconi wed Countess BezziScali of Rome, with whom he had one daughter, Elettra, named after his yacht.

7 . Guglielmo Marconi in England

The 22yearold Marconi and his mother arrived in England in 1896 and quickly found interested backers, including the British Post Office. Within a year Marconi was broadcasting up to 12 miles and had applied for his first patents. A year later, he set up a wireless station on the Isle of Wight that allowed Queen Victoria to send messages to her son Prince Edward aboard the royal yacht.By 1899 Marconis signals had crossed the English Channel. The same year, Marconi traveled to the United States, where he gained publicity offering wireless coverage of the Americas Cup yacht race from off the coast of New Jersey.

8 . Guglielmo Marconi and the Transatlantic S

Marconi began to work on improving his wireless for a transatlantic broadcast. Many physicists argued that radio waves traveled in straight lines, making it impossible for signals to be broadcast beyond the horizon, but Marconi believed they would follow the planets curvature. (In fact, the waves do travel in straight lines but bounce off the ionosphere, approximating a curve.) After failed attempts to receive a signal from England on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Marconi decided to try a shorter distance, from Cornwall to Newfoundland.The radio signal broadcast from Poldhu, Cornwall, was as powerful as Marconis team could make it at full power, the equipment sent out sparks a foot long. Some 2,100 miles away, atop Signal Hill in St. Johns, Marconi attached an antenna first to a balloon, which blew away, and then to a kite on a 500foot tether. On December 12, 1901, he picked up a faint threedot sequence the Morse Code letter s.

9 . Guglielmo Marconi the Nobel Prize and Titanic

In 1909 Marconi shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with the German physicist Karl F. Braun, the inventor of the cathode ray tube. Marconis accolades were not without controversy many other men had claims (some dubious, some not) to the Father of Radio title. As early as 1895, the Russian physicist Alexander Popov was broadcasting between buildings, while in India Jagdish Chandra Bose was using radio waves to ring bells and trigger explosions. In 1901 the SerbianAmerican electrical pioneer Nikola Tesla said he had developed a wireless telegraph in 1893; in 1943 the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated four Marconi radio patents, citing Teslas prior work. As shipping companies realized the radio telegraphs usefulness for passenger communication, navigation reports and distress signals, Marconi Company radios operated by trained cadres of Marconi Men became standard equipment. When RMS Titanic struck an iceberg on April 14, 1913, its Marconi operator was able to summon RMS Carpathia to the scene to pick up 700 survivors.

10 . Guglielmo Marconis Later Years and Legacy

For the next two decades, Marconi continued refining his inventions, experimenting with shortwave broadcasts and testing transmission distances aboard his 700ton yacht, Elettra. He returned to Italy, became a supporter of Benito Mussolini and annulled his first marriage to an Irish artist with whom he had four children to wed an Italian noblewoman. In 1935 he toured Brazil and Europe defending Mussolinis invasion of Abyssinia. He died two years later of a heart attack in Rome. In his honor, radio stations in America, England and Italy broadcast several minutes of silence.

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