Guglielmo Marconi obtains the Patent for Radio (July 2, 1897) - History Key

Guglielmo Marconi obtains the Patent for Radio (July 2, 1897)

On this day in 1897, the 23-year old Guglielmo Marconi obtained a patent for radio in London. But just like many other cases in science, the real father a particular invention is disputed. The same thing happened with Marconi and his wireless telegraphy.

Guglielmo Marconi who built the first radio receivers, with his early spark transmitter (right) and coherer receiver (left) from the 1890s
Guglielmo Marconi who built the first radio receivers, with his early spark transmitter (right) and coherer receiver (left) from the 1890s © LIFE Photo Archive/ Image Source: Wikipedia

What is the radio?

Radio is the technology of using radio waves to carry information. The Radio (as a device) uses wireless transmission of electromagnetic signals through the atmosphere or space. The information, such as sound, is carried by systematically changes (modulation) of the radio waves properties (amplitude, frequency, etc.). The radio equipment involves at least two sides: a transmitter and a receiver, each having a suitable antenna and a microphone (transmitter) and a receiver (receiver).

Tesla and Hertz

The story of the radio it is interesting, since Nikola Tesla is involved. Among his many scientific contributions, Tesla invented the coil, a device that could send and receive radio waves. On the other hand, Heinrich Rudolf Hertz was able to demonstrate the existence of electromagnetic waves in the air in 1880, which triggered several experiments with wireless transmissions.

Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) at age 40
Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) at age 40 © Image Source: Wikipedia

Marconi

One of the people who “were triggered” was Guglielmo Marconi. He was born in a wealthy family half Irish and half Italian. Ever since he was a kid, Marconi was passionate about technology. While he was 21, Marconi built a laboratory and started the experiments regarded to wireless transmissions. In short time he managed to send signal over a distance of several kilometres.

Guglielmo Marconi
Guglielmo Marconi © Pach Brothers/Image Source: Wikipedia

Therefore, on July 2, 1897 he received his first patent for “wireless telegraphy” in London and four years later he transmitted the first transatlantic radio wave. At the same time, he received financial support from Thomas Edison, the enemy of Nikola Tesla.

Who actually invented it?

However in 1904, the US Patent Office revoked Tesla’s patent for the invention of the radio and gave it to Marconi. Even more, in 1909, Marconi won the Nobel Prize in Physics with Karl Braun for their radio work. Because of this, Tesla sued Marconi for violating the patent, but he failed to win the lawsuit. Unfortunately, Tesla died a few months before the final “battle”. The US Supreme Court restored Tesla’s patent for the invention of the radio.

Second banquet meeting of the Institute of Radio Engineers, 23 April 1915. Tesla seen standing in the center
Second banquet meeting of the Institute of Radio Engineers, 23 April 1915. Tesla seen standing in the center © Institute of Radio Engineers/Image Source: Wikipedia

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