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Today in Media History: In the late 1890s Marconi helped invent wireless news

Although inventor Guglielmo Marconi created short-distance wireless telegraph years earlier, on December 12, 1901 his team sent and received the first long-distance transatlantic radio/telegraph message.

He proved that wireless messages (and eventually news) could be sent across the Atlantic.

Marconi received the first transatlantic message on Signal Hill in St. John’s, Newfoundland. That day may have looked something like this:

He first saw the potential of wireless telegraph news in the late 1890s. Here is an example from the Marconi Collection and “Marconi’s life“:

“On the way home to England in November 1899, on board the SS St Paul, he arranged for news of the Boer War to be transmitted to the ship from his station on the Isle of Wight. This news was then printed on board the vessel in the first ever ship’s newspaper produced as a result of a shore-to-ship wireless transmission.”

Walter Cronkite reminded us that Marconi’s technology played a part in the biggest news story of 1912. Marconi’s wireless telegraph sent an SOS signal from the sinking Titanic.

“Late in the nineteenth century, Guglielmo Marconi began experimenting with electromagnetic waves to send signals. At that time, the telegraph wire was the quickest way to get messages from here to there, using Morse code. He designed a transmitter to send and a receiver to detect radio waves. By the end of the century Marconi had managed to send signals over several miles with no wires, and the idea was taking hold with naval officials.

….On December 12, 1901, Marconi attempted to send the first radio signals across the Atlantic Ocean, in spite of predictions that the radio waves would be lost as the earth curved over that long distance. He set up a specially designed wireless receiver in Newfoundland, Canada, using a coherer (a glass tube filled with iron filings) to conduct radio waves, and balloons to lift the antenna as high as possible. The signals were sent in Morse code from Poldhu, Cornwall, in England.

Marconi later wrote about the experience: ’As Sir Oliver Lodge has stated, it was an epoch in history. I now felt for the first time absolutely certain that the day would come when mankind would be able to send messages without wires not only across the Atlantic but between the farthermost ends of the earth.’”

— “Marconi receives radio signal over Atlantic
PBS, A Science Odyssey

A short biography of Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937):

Read more

from Poynter. http://ift.tt/1Aqivhj

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