December 12, 2001
4:55 PM   Subscribe

100 years ago today, Marconi received the first transatlantic wireless signal. It was reported in Nature on Dec 19, 1901. How's that for an old link?

The first repurcussion of this achievement: legal notice to remove his equipment from Newfoundland because ATC had 2 years left in their 50 year telegraphic monopoly. Plus ├ža change...

Listen to a real spark gap transmission at 0200 UTC Dec 13 on 3550 KHz to relive history.
posted by Geo (13 comments total)
Sorry for the double post - I got an error message the first time, but I guess the post went anyway.

It is interesting that all the celebrations and re-creations have the date wrong.

The actual transmission was on Dec 12, and the first reception was on December 11. So why wasn't it celebrated last night?
posted by Geo at 5:04 PM on December 12, 2001

I doubt that any of the news media reporting this story is talking about how Marconi's great achievement wouldn't have been possible without all of the patents he ripped off from Nikola Tesla.
posted by MrBaliHai at 5:27 PM on December 12, 2001

An occassional pastime is to try to grab a few words from a high-speed morse code transmission over shortwave.
Here's a site with a phonetic code trainer that might help.
posted by HTuttle at 5:36 PM on December 12, 2001

And 100 years later we have Howard Stern, Don Imus, G. Gordon Liddy, Rush Limbaugh, Dr. Laura, various and sundry Morning Zoo Crews, and music which is so soul crushingly predictable.

Who hijacked Marconi's marvelous invention?
posted by MAYORBOB at 5:47 PM on December 12, 2001

Who hijacked Marconi's marvelous invention?

That would be David Sarnoff, the Radio Corporation of America radio operator at Wanamaker Hardware in New York who relied breaking news about the Titanic sinking to a worried and excited throng for almost three days straight. Sarnoff foresaw the transformation of radio into a medium for mass communication and was instrumental in starting RCA (which owned the rights to Marconi's invention in the United States) down the road to radio broadcasting and NBC.
posted by snarkout at 6:15 PM on December 12, 2001

*applauds snarkout*
posted by gleuschk at 6:25 PM on December 12, 2001

I think it is all Fessenden's fault. He showed that radio could be used for entertainment by broadcasting voice and music to ships in the Atlantic. And more...
posted by Geo at 6:31 PM on December 12, 2001

The actual transmission was on Dec 12, and the first reception was on December 11.

That would be backwards; right?
posted by ParisParamus at 6:40 PM on December 12, 2001

*applauds snarkout*

It would be more impressive if I had typed "relayed" correctly. In penance, here is an article on the legal battles between Tesla and Marconi.
posted by snarkout at 6:43 PM on December 12, 2001

I heard the spark gap transmission. Of course, it's nothing new for me; I hear spark gap transmissions on my shortwave radio every time I run the dryer....
posted by geneablogy at 8:39 PM on December 12, 2001

Hearing media outlets parrot the credit to Marconi for for what was rightly Tesla's discovery used to make my blood boil. Now, I'm just glad that people take a day to remember that a technology so ubiquitous and pretty much taken for granted does have an origin and a historical context that can be appreciated. Would I rather see Tesla's name there? Yes, absolutely. But if I had to choose between reflection on the origins and impact of a technology and the accuracy of the details, I would choose the latter. So, biting my lip a bit, I say happy Marconi day.
posted by holycola at 9:12 PM on December 12, 2001

Alright, but what does it actually sound like. Another page has a few samples and a little more information. The thing I haven't read anywhere was why spark was banned from the airwaves by the 1920s.

While looking for more info, this History of American Broadcasting was very interesting.
posted by warhol at 6:24 AM on December 13, 2001

Very nice link warhol. I suspect that spark was banned because the signal takes up more bandwidth than a CW signal of the same power. So, more stations can occupy the same range of frequencies without interfering with each other.
posted by Geo at 7:49 AM on December 13, 2001

« Older This seems like a great idea.   |   What a great TV night! Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments