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  • Saturday, April 21, 2012

    Guglielmo Marconi.

    Guglielmo Marconi
    In 1907 Guglielmo Marconi was the first Italian to receive the Nobel Prize in Physics. The Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded annually from 1901 by the Royal Swedish Academy of Science. It is awarded at a formal ceremony held on December 10 at Stockholm, Sweden.Birth and early yearsGuglielmo Marconi was born on April 25, 1874 at Bologna, Italy. He was the second son of Giuseppe Marconi, an Italian country gentleman and Annie Jameson daughter of Andrew Jameson of Daphne Castle, Wexford, Ireland. He was educated privately at Bologna and Florence. As a young boy he showed keen interest in physics. He studied the works of the major physicists including Maxwell, Hertz, Rigghi and others. He studied at the Technical Institute in Leghorn where he studied physics. In Bologna his neighbour the distinguished physicist Professor Rigghi made him interested in electricity generally and specifically in Hertz’s work on transmitting wireless signals. Thus Marconi became intent on discovering a method of wireless telegraphy.

    Early experiments

    In 1894 when Marconi began his experiments radio waves were called Hertzian waves.

    In 1895 he began his early experiments at his father’s country estates in Pontecchio. He began by building equipment and transmitting electrical signals through the air from one end of the house to the other end. He then sent them from the house to the garden. Finally he succeeded in sending wireless signals over a distance of one and a half miles. These experiments ushered in the dawn of wireless telegraphy or radio. Although he tried to get the Italian Ministry of Posts and Telegraphs interested in his work he did not receive much encouragement for his invention in Italy.

    In 1896 with the encouragement of his cousin Henry Jameson Davis he took his apparatus to England and showed it to Mr. William Preece, Engineer-in-chief of the British Post Office. Later that year he was granted the world’s first patent for a system of wireless telegraphy. He was able to demonstrate his wireless system successfully in London, on the Salisbury plain and across the Bristol Channel.

    In July 1897 he formed the Wireless Telegraph and Signal Company Limited based in London. In 1898 it opened the first wireless factory in Chelmsford England employing around fifty workers. In 1900 it was renamed as Marconi’s Wireless Telegraph Company Limited. This Company still bears his name. In the same year at Spezia he showed the Italian government that he could send wireless signals over a distance of twelve miles.

    In 1899 he established a wireless link between Britain and France across the English Channel. He established permanent wireless stations at The Needles, Isle of Wight, Bournemouth, and later at the Haven Hotel in Poole, Dorset.

    In 1900 he obtained his famous patent 7777 for “tuned or systonic telegraphy”. In December 1901 he proved that wireless signals were not affected by the curvature of the earth. He transmitted the first wireless signals across the Atlantic between Poldhu, Cornwall and St, Johns, New Foundland, a distance of 2100 miles.

    In 1902 he demonstrated “daylight effect” relative to wireless communication. In the same year he patented his magnetic detector, which was the standard wireless receiver for many years. In the same year in December he also transmitted the first complete message to Poldhu from stations at Glace Bay, Nova Scotia and Cape Cod Massachusetts.

    By 1903 the Marconi Company was carrying out regular transatlantic news transmissions.

    In 1907 the first commercial transatlantic wireless service was established between Glace Bay and Clifdon, Ireland. Earlier a shorter distance public service of wireless telegraphy had been set up between Bari, Italy and Avidari, Montenegro.
    In 1905 he patented his horizontal directional aerial. In 1912 he patented a “timed spark” system for generating continuous waves.

    Queen Victoria at Osborne House had also received bulletins by radio when the Prince of Wales was convalescing on the Royal Yacht off Cowes.

    Nobel Prize

    In 1907 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics along with Professor Karl Ferdinand Braun. They were jointly awarded the prize for their contributions to the development of wireless telegraphy.

    Other honours

    He was awarded the Albert Medal of the Royal Society of Arts. He was awarded John Fritz medal and the Kelvin Medal. The Tsar of Russia decorated him with the order of St. Anne. The King of Italy created him the Commander of the Order of St. Maurice and St. Lazarus. In 1902 he was awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown of Italy. In 1903 he received the freedom of the City of Rome. In 1905 he was made Chevalier of the Civil Order of Savoy. In 1914 he was made Senator in the Italian Senate. In the same year he was appointed Honorary Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order in England. In 1929 he received the hereditary title of Marchese (Marquis).

    He also received many honorary degrees and honours from various international universities and organizations.

    He has been ranked among the top fifty in a list of influential figures in history.

    The International Airport in Bologna, Italy has been named as the Bologna Guglielmo Marconi International Airport in his honour.

    The town Copiague in New York State was once named Marconiville after Guglielmo Marconi. In Copiague on the Great Neck Road there is an old gate standing, which still reads “Marconiville”.

    Personal life

    In 1905 he married the Honorary Beatrice O’ Brien, daughter of Edward Donough O’ Brien, the fourteenth Baron Inchiquin. They had one son and two daughters. In 1827 this marriage was annulled. In the same year he married Countess Maria Cristina Bezi-Scali of Rome. They had a daughter.

    His favourite pastimes were hunting, cycling and motoring.

    War service

    In 1914 he joined the Italian Army as a Lieutenant and he was later promoted to Captain. In 1916 he became a Commander in the Navy. In 1917 he was a member of the Italian Government Mission to the United States of America. In 1919 he was appointed Italian plenipotentiary delegate to the Paris peace Conference. In 1919 he was awarded the Italian Military Medal in recognition of his war service. During World War I he was in charge of the Italian wireless service. This was the period when he began developing short wave communication transmissions.

    Later experiments

    In 1920 the first official public broadcasts in the UK took place from Marconi’s Chelmsford factory. It included a broadcast featuring Dame Nellie Melba.

    In 1922 the world’s first regular wireless broadcasts for entertainment also began from the Marconi Research Centre at Writtle near Chelmsford. He had achieved his aim of making Hertz’s laboratory demonstration into a practical and commercial means of communication.

    In 1923 he conducted a series of experiments on short waves between experimental stations in Poldhu and in Marconi’s yacht “Elettra” cruising in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. This led to the development of the beam system for long distance communication. In 1926 the British Government accepted this method of communication and the first beam station linking Britain and Canada was opened.

    In 1931 Marconi started researching on waves of still shorter wavelengths than radio waves. In 1932 he established the world’s first microwave radio telephone link between the Vatican City and the Pope’s summer residence at Castle Gandalfo. In 1934 he demonstrated his microwave radio beacon for ship navigation at Sestri Levante.

    In Italy in 1935 he gave a practical demonstration of radar. In 1922 he had already foretold the discovery of radar in a lecture at the American Institute of Radio Engineers in New York.

    Links with the Fascist Party

    In 1923 Marconi joined the Italian Fascist Party. Benito Mussolini then made him the President of the Accademia d’ Italia. He also became a member of the Fascist Grand Council. He made fascist speeches on the radio in many countries.


    He died on July20, 1937 in Rome. As a tribute to Marconi, radio stations all over the world observed two minutes of radio silence.

    The US National Marconi Museum of Radio Communication and the Guglielmo Marconi Foundation USA Inc. are located in the historic district of Bedford, New Hampshire establishing links with Bedford, England a city where Marconi spent much of his childhood. In this museum one can find early Marconi wireless equipment as well as the latest cellular phone exhibit. It also has a technical library with rare and first edition journals, reference books and textbooks. It also has a Marconi Legacy Fund, which provides scholarships for students to study communications.

    Marconi has been credited as the “father of radio”. Although many scientists have contributed to the invention of wireless telegraphy it was Marconi’s practical system, which achieved widespread use and became commercially viable. Radio has really changed this century and still has a major impact in people’s lives despite the advent of the television, the Internet and other modern means of communication. Despite his fascist role Guglielmo Marconi has remained a prominent and admired figure in history as he conforms to what people expect in a hero and an inventor.