Excellent article - cheers.
Now for one on GEC-Marconi :(
This is the story of a 22-year-old technology genius, who, stung by the lack of interest in his work in his homeland, moved to a new country to develop his ideas. In a single year, this individual extended the performance of a key technology of his time by a factor of more than 20. It sounds like an outlandish tale even by …
See my comments below....
Tesla: "Of course Marconi's patent work, he took every one of mine"
This Rothschild/Rockefeller fraud then set up the Edison puppet as Radio Corporation of America to produce receivers, broadcast equipment and programing, all under monopolist propaganda control.
Indeed, the world of radio patents from 1890's onwards was as controversial as software patents today. Marconi was awarded a patent on his "black box", which turned out to contain the inventions of others. This was a major scandal at the time among those working on radio. And his patents on tuning were not novel; they just describe existing work of others. He was also supposed to be working for the GPO when he was making his refinements to radio, using public money and a team of GPO staff, but then refused to hand over the results of their work to the GPO, claiming it as his own. HIs first supposedly successful transatlantic transmission is also subject to serious doubt, and changes to make it work later (e.g. lowering the frequency) again appears to be based on the work of other. He ruthelesly expoited the Titanic disaster, claiming his radios had saved hundreds of lives (it is interesting that one of his associates at that time, Sarnoff -- who was embroilled in this story through some fiction about him somehow being involved as a telegraph operator -- was subsequently found to have misappropriated other inventions, including wideband FM, which ultimately lead to the sucide of the actual inventor).
Marconi is like Edison, Alexander Graham-Bell and other commercially successful "great inventors" who turned out not to have invented "their" inventions; he was very good at marketing, politicking, ruthlessly claiming the inventions of others, and gaming the patent system, and whose success seems to be based on lucky timing, combined with a complete absence of ethics or shame.
This is not to say we cannot acknowledge the achievements of Marconi and others for what they are; I just don't see why it is necessary to perpetuate these sanitised and fictionalised accounts, and continue to ignore or whitewash the more controversial aspects of their professional lifes. Doing so merely serves to belittle and ignore those who actually did the work on which the success of these "great inventors" was built.
Tesla was truly one of the inventors. Marconi was the most successful Radio Entrepenure perhaps till David Sarnoff (RCA). Marconi was one of the original RCA founders with GE, but kicked out by US government.
RCA bought Victor Talking Machine Co. Which in UK was HMV and in Japan JVC. When in 1928 UK Columbia Graphophone was taken over by HMV, the holding company was EMI.
The US part of Columbia became CBS.
Hence when Marconi wanted to divest the loss making domestic Radio and concentrate on Marine & Industrial, RCA (Sarnoff) encouraged him to licence Marconiphone name to EMI. Hence HMV and Marconiphone models in 1930s pretty much identical. Also why EMI and RCA collaborated on the Electronic TV. especially the camera, which defeated Farnsworth (his was inherently rubbish) and Baird, who at least came up with electronic film scanning, but otherwise didn't invent TV as his Mechincal TV was a Victorian era invention.
Bairds film to TV system was used in Satellites before suitable CCD cameras. The film was developed and then slowly scanned and transmitted.
Tesla was all "I can do this, but it's so easy, I won't bother"
Marconi was not only a scientist, he was a very perceptive entrepeneur who managed to build a business out of his discovery, defend it in court *and* make it pay. He should be celebrated for that. Someone would have "invented" radio sooner or later, but the man who made it pay was Marconi.
Being a smart inventor is no use if you can't make a buck at it, which is something Marconi realised and Tesla (whether he realised it or not) was unable to accomplish.
"It sometimes happens, even in science, that one man can be right against the world. Professor Fessenden was that man. He fought bitterly and alone to prove his theories. It was he who insisted, against the stormy protests of every recognized authority, that what we now call radio was worked by continuous waves sent through the ether by the transmitting station as light waves are sent out by a flame. Marconi and others insisted that what was happening was a whiplash effect. The progress of radio was retarded a decade by this error. The whiplash theory passed gradually from the minds of men and was replaced by the continuous wave, with all too little credit to the man who had been right."
"January 1903 saw the first transmission from the US, from president Theodore Roosevelt to King Edward VI."
That would have been quite an achievement, given that Edward VI was the son of Henry VIII, and lived 12 October 1537 – 6 July 1553. Presumably you mean Edward VII.
Speaking as an RF Hardware engineer who often ends up working on system debug, you wouldn't believe the number of misunderstandings this still causes. SW group enumerate the first physical transmitter in a radio system as TX0, HW group refer to it as TX1, and so on.
I've yet to meet a human being who starts counting on their fingers at zero!
Willie, Willie, Harry, Stee,
Harry, Dick, John, Harry three;
One, two, three Neds, Richard two
Harrys four, five, six... then who?
Edwards four, five, Dick the bad,
Harrys twain VII VIII and Ned the Lad;
[g]Mary, Bessie, James the Vain,
Charlie, Charlie, James again...
William and Mary, Anna Gloria,
Four Georges I II III IV, William and Victoria;
Edward seven next, and then
George the fifth in 1910;
Ned the eighth soon abdicated
Then George the sixth was coronated;
After which Elizabeth
And that's the end until her death.
Fair enough, but the usage is still commonplace.
As opposed to the post that I was commenting on. Did he mean the parent of his parent, or one of his parents that was better than the other?
Think of it in terms of mine being a (possible) syntax error which the compiler would pick up and his which was valid code but referring to the wrong object, possibly causing an airliner to fall out of the sky killing all the passengers.
A grandfather-in-law (do-what?) was a young technician there, and once stole Marconi's sandwiches. Apparently Marconi was a difficult man to work for, but whether that was before or after he'd had his sandwiches stolen we are not told. PS: If the Italians weren't interested, why did Marconi spend so long on RM Carlo Alberto running experiments as a personal guest of the Italian King?
I suspect that's more to do with the description "Italian radio pioneer".
I still agree, though. The reverse-snobbery of the tech industry when it comes to personal appearance is depressing: reacting against the "corporate" suit-and-tie has just resulted in Technology becoming its mirror-image where anyone who looks after their appearance more than is "necessary" is judged to be shallow or incompetent.
I'm fairly sure the first radio transmission across water was from Lavernock Point in South Wales across to Somerset.
There is a plaque on the church wall there and more importantly, to 1980's sixth formers anyway, the infamous Marconi Club which ran a pretty much underage drinking club masquerading as a disco.
Yes indeed. You're quite right. Marconi's early pioneering work of proving that he was chasing the possible was concentrated in south Wales just to the west of Cardiff at Lavernock Point.
So really it was a Welsh affair which failed to get so much as a mention.
Still, that's typical of our Cousin Jacks from across the water to try to grab all the glory.
Then there's David Hughes from Corwen who in 1879 was detecting spark signals.
Go forwards three years to 1892 and William Preece, another Gogledd Cymreag was sending signals across from Cardiff to Holm Island before doing the same across the Conwy Valley.
Then came Marconi.
What funny little german guy?
As another "Obscure Balkan Subject" (quoting George Dimitrov @ the torching of the Reichstag trial), I consider this as a mortal insult. He is an _EX_ little german guy. His ancestry has ruled various Balkan countries (off the top of my head - Bulgaria, Greece, and principalities over the last two centuries for long enough to become one of us. It does not matter if they were called Batenberg or Glücksburg at the time - to the same effect.
He has gone native and has remained so even after becoming "Mountbatten" instead of Batenberg or Gluksburg.
Which makes listening to UKIP rants about Bulgarian and Romanians doubly funny by the way.
Having made it all the way down to this lovely and remote part of England it's also worth seeing the fascinating Cable and Wireless Telegraph museum at Porthcurno on the Lands End peninsular. A superb collection of Telegraph instruments; a fusion of engineering and craftsman's work of art. For sea views try the unique and romantic Minack open air theatre high up on the nearby cliffs.
There are also, on a clifftop near the Porthcurno museum, the remains of the concrete anchors used to stabilize a huge antenna put up by the (then) rival Eastern Telegraph Company to spy on Marconi's transmissions in the days before the "forced" merger in the 30s that formed C&W and brought together the two rival comms systems under one roof.
For old school wired communication then go to nearby Porthcurno - see the hut there where the cables from all over the empire came ashore in the UK and there is an interesting museum there as well (plus non techies can go to see the Minnack theatre at the same time!)
Also there used to be a visitor centre at Goonhilly to cover the wizzy new satelite comms which I remember occupying a wet day on a family holiday a few years ago but that subsequently closed.
didn't El Reg visit there once a long time ago, as in before a Geek's Guide? I seem to recall a photograph of cut cables near a rockface and I thought I saw it on these very pages.
Too far for a fleeting visit from me, but would love to make it down there one day to take all of these sites in
I don't think it has had one, although I would more than agree it certainly deserves one.
Or even just a mention in the articles, as it was also missing from inclusion in the Goonhilly one you linked to (aside from my doing so in the comments section of that article). For those who are interested, a link to their website is here
And also today for anything not tied to a cable or fibre.
Even Satellite is Wireless.
He was half Irish (Jameson Whiskey family) and one of his wives was Irish too.
He didn't invent Wireless, but he realised the need for Aerial and Earth. The Whip aerial used on all mobile devices and many WiFi used to be called the Marconi Monopole and was his invention.
He never wanted a Nobel, as he regarded himself as an entrepreneur and not a scientist. Far more honest than Edison and maybe the only Entrepreneur that Edison liked. Edison himself said it was because he hadn't gotten round to Radio.
Indeed, I was just coming in here to suggest that people who haven't experienced Tim Hunkin's* The Secret Life of Machines head over to this page and download the "radio" episode; as with all the other episodes it's full of interesting titbits about technology pioneers including Sarnof (my favourite back-story from TSLoM was Strowger who supposedly invented the first automatic telephone exchange to save his undertakers business). Dated technology but a highly recommended series.
* For those of you who aren't native to the UK, he's the very epitome of the eccentric inventor/boffin and also the author of the Almost Everything There Is To Know tome of lore which was hugely influential to geeks of my generation.
Well, the story from Hunkin at least was that Strowger was an undertaker who's business had taken a nosedive. He noticed that a rival undertaker still had plenty of business, in fact more than usual, and then made the connection that the wife (or GF?) of the rival undertaker was a switchboard operator at the local exchange and surmised she'd been passing calls on to her fella. But yeah, pretty much he invented a machine to replace the human element out of spite.
It was little details like that that made me love The Secret Life of Machines; not just how they work but a grounding on why and how they were invented in the first place - a point that a great deal of shows miss out on entirely.
For what it's worth, Hunkin did a written follow up to the series on his website a few years back noting how things had changed in the meantime:
Oh yikes, actually more than a decade back... now I feel even older.
I hate to burst your bubble, but Tim Hunkin is much more of an artist than an engineer/inventor. Typical university educated - knows lots but understands little.
Rex (his co-presenter and friend) however was the complete opposite in that he could do the engineering without having to consult textbooks and the like. He understood everything but wasn't formally educated.
Both great people in their own way.
As he (Rex Garrod that is) more than amply proved in Robot Wars over several seasons...
But I certainly love Hunkin's cartoons on the subject - it's a nice sneaky way of getting kids drawn into the subject, plus on occasions some adults too.
One of my all time favourite programmes that - I loved watching it when it was on (and I was still at school!).
I remember writing to them and asking what the theme music was (pre- WWW)
I watched them all again 5 or 6 years or so ago - still stand up to time, though of course kids nowadays would wonder what the hell a video recorder or a fax machine actually were..
It was years later when I worked at BT laboratories that I found out they were local lads - Rex coming on site a few times to show off his robot wars jobs.
I wish there was something like that on the tv today for kids. A kind of UK version of myth busters, but with more of the science and less of the bullshit.
Another Marconi monument on the site of one of his wireless stations is at Alum Bay on the Isle of Wight. Rather inauspiciously surrounded by an underwhelming mini theme park.
A walk up to Needles Battery to see the rocket test pads is intriguing though, the ProsperoX3 and Black Arrow rocket display could be better though.
We have one here...at least, we used to. After the past few years' big storms, you have to swim out to it. When I visited it as a youth, there was still a tower base to be seen. Still, nice bit of history. The first transatlantic transmissions were from Glace Bay, in Canada IIRC, but once he began regular service, he built the one at Welfleet.
There is an IEEE Milestone plaque in the National Trust Visitor Centre at Poldhu, dedicated on 12 December 2001. It reads: On December 12, 1901, a radio transmission of the Morse code letter 'S' was broadcast from this site, using equipment built by John Ambrose Fleming. At Signal Hill in Newfoundland, Guglielmo Marconi, using a wire antenna kept aloft by a kite, confirmed the reception of these first transatlantic radio signals. These experiments showed that radio signals could propagate far beyond the horizon, giving radio a new global dimension for communications in the twentieth century.
Sorry for the plug but I am a big supporter of the IEEE Global History Network and I do love a good historical plaque.
Marconi was set up by Rothschild and Rockefeller to steal a year old Russian, single band system, get a fraudulent UK patent, then come to the US and STEAL the four Tesla patents that had sat for four years in the CORRUPT US Patent Office. Marconi was to have been a featured speaker on the J P Morgan Titanic, but along with Morgan and seven CORRUPT bankers, missed the boat.
Read "The Futility of the Titan" an 1898 novelette about the 'worlds largest, unsinkable passenger ship that hits an iceberg and sinks....with too few lifeboats'. Read Wiki/Seven_Missed_Titanic
Read "I'll Take Some E Pluribus....but HOLD the Unum" at CanadaFreePress.
The US Patent office also withheld TWELVE WRIGHT BROTHERS PATENTS, gave them to European companies and Rockefeller front company Curtis Aircraft.
We have been systematically LIED to about everything.
Marconi was used by the Rothschild/Rockefeller monopolists to STEAL the legitimate radio patents of Tesla. Marconi stole a year old Russian patent for a single band, useless system and got a fraudulent UK patent. He was then brought to the US, where Telsa's four patents had sat for four years in the US Patent Office, and he STOLE every US patent. This was proven and ruled in the US Supreme Court in 1943. In addition, Marconi was to have been a featured speaker on the J P Morgan Titanic cruise, but missed the boat, along with seven banking criminals, who had their competition drown. Read "The Futility of the Titan" an 1898 novelette, (on line) about a fictional "too big to sink passenger ship that hits an iceberg and sinks, with too few life rafts". Then read the Wiki/Eight_Missed_Titanic
We have been LIED to about everything ! See "I'll take some E Pluribus...but HOLD the Unum" in archive at Canada Free Press !
Whilst claims that he "invented" wireless transmission have been well and truly shown to be false, and no, it wasn't Hertz - he's the one who found "waves", it was David E Hughes who inadvertently discovered "Wireless" while he was studying the work of Hertz and others. At first he dismissed it as nothing but a bit of inductive coupling, so did noting with it. It was Tesla that used Hughes' findings to develop wireless transmission & reception.
But that's all by the by.
What Marconi did was commercialise it. He was the Steve Jobs of early wireless, his company was the Apple of the field. To the point that he/the company filed patents for things that others had previously invented, or were simply "prior art".
There is an industrial area in Cape Town called 'Marconi Beam' because the antenna for the Imperial Beam system (alias 'The Imperial Wireless Chain') was installed there in the 1920's for the colonies around the British Empire to communicate with one another.
The antenna has gone, just as the Empire -but Marconi is still remembered
Marconi was a pioneer, sure, but the widespread adoption of his discoveries also depended on the work of Sir Oliver Lodge - who invented the idea of tuning [he referred to it as 'syntony'] which allowed the RF energy from the transmitter to be radiated predominantly on one frequency, and for a receiver to be able to separate wanted and unwanted signals.
Without this, radio would have been just so much interference.
[I'm a great lobbyist for Lodge, if only because he went to the same school as I did]
So, how do you feel about "Branly Coherers"? Seems to me Lodge invented them, too.
The whole notion that the person who prevails in patent court (or gets something named for them) is the Inventor (aka Solitary Genius) is hogwash.
Meanwhile, as I can't be arsed to write another comment, I find it amusing, in a Gallows Humour way, that Strowger was trying to make "lookup" more honest by mechanizing it. Tell that to folks who have been mislead by "algoritthmic" search results, or had their ISP diddle DNS.
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