28 January 2010
The invention: The first radio transmissions of music and voice
laid the basis for the modern radio and television industries.
The people behind the invention:
Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937), an Italian physicist and
Reginald Aubrey Fessenden (1866-1932), an American radio
The first major experimenter in the United States to work with
wireless radio was Reginald Aubrey Fessenden. This transplanted
Canadian was a skilled, self-made scientist, but unlike American inventor
Thomas Alva Edison, he lacked the business skills to gain the
full credit and wealth that such pathbreaking work might have merited.
Guglielmo Marconi, in contrast, is most often remembered as
the person who invented wireless (as opposed to telegraphic) radio.
There was a great difference between the contributions of Marconi
and Fessenden. Marconi limited himself to experiments with
radio telegraphy; that is, he sought to send through the air messages
that were currently being sent by wire—signals consisting of dots
and dashes. Fessenden sought to perfect radio telephony, or voice
communication by wireless transmission. Fessenden thus pioneered
the essential precursor of modern radio broadcasting.