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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Radio is the wireless transmission of signals through free space by electromagnetic radiation of a frequency significantly below that of visible light. The technology allows for the transmission of sound. As such, radio is a broadcasting mass medium which enjoyed its greatest popularity from the 1920s until the 1950s, when it was displaced by television, see radio programming.



19th century

The meaning and usage of the word "radio" has developed in parallel with developments within the field of communications and can be seen to have three distinct phases: electromagnetic waves and experimentation; wireless communication and technical development; and radio broadcasting and commercialization. Many individuals—inventors, engineers, developers, businessmen - contributed to produce the modern idea of radio and thus the origins and 'invention' are multiple and controversial. Early radio designs could not transmit sound or speech and were called the "wireless telegraph."

Development from a laboratory demonstration to a commercial entity spanned several decades and required the efforts of many practitioners. In 1878, David E. Hughes noticed that sparks could be heard in a telephone receiver when experimenting with his carbon microphone. He developed this carbon-based detector further and eventually could detect signals over a few hundred yards. He demonstrated his discovery to the Royal Society in 1880, but was told it was merely induction, and therefore abandoned further research.

Experiments were undertaken by Thomas Edison and his employees of Menlo Park. Edison applied in 1885 to the U.S. Patent Office for a patent on an electrostatic coupling system between elevated terminals. The patent was granted as Template:US patent on December 29, 1891. The Marconi Company would later purchase rights to the Edison patent to protect them legally from lawsuits.

In 1893, in St. Louis, Missouri, Serbian-American inventor Nikola Tesla made devices for his experiments with electricity. Addressing the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia and the National Electric Light Association, he described and demonstrated the principles of his wireless work. The descriptions contained all the elements that were later incorporated into radio systems before the development of the vacuum tube. He initially experimented with magnetic receivers, unlike the coherers (detecting devices consisting of tubes filled with iron filings which had been invented by Temistocle Calzecchi-Onesti at Fermo in Italy in 1884) used by Guglielmo Marconi and other early experimenters.

A demonstration of wireless telegraphy took place in the lecture theater of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History on August 14, 1894, carried out by Professor Oliver Lodge and Alexander Muirhead. During the demonstration a radio signal was sent from the neighboring Clarendon laboratory building, and received by apparatus in the lecture theater.

In November 1894 public demonstration at Town Hall of Kolkata, Jagadish Chandra Bose ignited gunpowder and rang a bell at a distance using millimetre range wavelength microwaves. Bose wrote in a Bengali essay, Adrisya Alok (Invisible Light), “The invisible light can easily pass through brick walls, buildings etc. Therefore, messages can be transmitted by means of it without the mediation of wires.” Bose’s first scientific paper, “On polarisation of electric rays by double-refracting crystals” was communicated to the Asiatic Society of Bengal in May 1895. His second paper was communicated to the Royal Society of London by Lord Rayleigh in October 1895. In December 1895, the London journal the Electrician (Vol. 36) published Bose’s paper, “On a new electro-polariscope”. At that time, the word 'coherer', coined by Lodge, was used in the English-speaking world for Hertzian wave receivers or detectors. The Electrician readily commented on Bose’s coherer. (December 1895). The Englishman (18 January 1896) quoted from the Electrician and commented as follows:”Should Professor Bose succeed in perfecting and patenting his ‘Coherer’, we may in time see the whole system of coast lighting throughout the navigable world revolutionised by a Bengali scientist working single handed in our Presidency College Laboratory.” Bose planned to “perfect his coherer” but never thought of patenting it.

In 1895 Alexander Stepanovich Popov built his first radio receiver, which contained a coherer. Further refined as a lightning detector, it was presented to the Russian Physical and Chemical Society on May 7, 1895. A depiction of Popov's lightning detector was printed in the Journal of the Russian Physical and Chemical Society the same year. Until recently, mistakenly believed that it was the first description (publication of the minutes 15/201 of this session — December issue of the journal RPCS), but in fact the first description of the device was given by Dmitry Aleksandrovich Lachinov in July 1895 in the 2nd edition of his course "Fundamentals of Meteorology and climatology" — the first in Russia. Popov's receiver was created on the improved basis of Lodge's receiver, and originally intended for reproduction of its experiments.

Marconi was the first scientist to achieve successful radio transmission. In 1895, Marconi built a wireless system capable of transmitting signals at long distances (1.5 mi./ 2.4 km). In radio transmission technology, early public experimenters had made short distance broadcasts. Marconi achieved long range signalling due to a wireless transmitting apparatus and a radio receiver claimed by him.

From Marconi's experiments, the phenomenon that transmission range is proportional to the square of antenna height is known as "Marconi's law."

Marconi's experimental apparatus proved to be the first engineering complete, commercially successful radio transmission system. According to the Proceedings of the United States Naval Institute in 1899, the Marconi instruments had a "[...] coherer, principle of which was discovered some twenty years ago, [and was] the only electrical instrument or device contained in the apparatus that is at all new."

In 1896, Marconi was awarded British patent 12039, Improvements in transmitting electrical impulses and signals and in apparatus there-for, for radio. In 1897, he established a radio station on the Isle of Wight, England. Marconi opened his "wireless" factory in the former silk-works at Hall Street, Chelmsford, England in 1898, employing around 60 people. Shortly after the 1900s, Marconi held the patent rights for radio.

20th century

In 1900, Brazilian priest Roberto Landell de Moura transmitted the human voice wirelessly. According the newspaper Jornal do Comercio (June 10, 1900), he conducted his first public experiment on June 3, 1900, in front of journalists and the General Consul of Great Britain, C.P. Lupton, in São Paulo, Brazil, for a distance of approximately 8 km. The points of transmission and reception were Alto de Santana and Paulista Avenue.

One year after that experiment, he received his first patent from the Brazilian government. It was described as "equipment for the purpose of phonetic transmissions through space, land and water elements at a distance with or without the use of wires." Four months later, knowing that his invention had real value, he left Brazil for the United States of America with the intent of patenting the machine at the US Patent Office in Washington, DC.

Having few resources, he had to rely on friends to push his project. In spite of great difficulty, three patents were awarded: "The Wave Transmitter" (October 11, 1904) which is the precursor of today's radio transceiver; "The Wireless Telephone" and the "Wireless Telegraph," both dated November 22, 1904. thumb|"The Wireless Telephone" U S Patent Office in Washington, DC In June 1912 after the RMS Titanic disaster, due to increased production Marconi opened the world's first purpose-built radio factory at New Street Works, also in Chelmsford, England.

The next advancement was the vacuum tube detector, invented by Westinghouse engineers. On Christmas Eve 1906, Reginald Fessenden used a synchronous rotary-spark transmitter for the first radio program broadcast, from Ocean Bluff-Brant Rock, Massachusetts. Ships at sea heard a broadcast that included Fessenden playing O Holy Night on the violin and reading a passage from the Bible.

This was, for all intents and purposes, the first transmission of what is now known as amplitude modulation or AM radio. The first radio news program was broadcast August 31, 1920 by station 8MK in Detroit, Michigan, which survives today as all-news format station WWJ under ownership of the CBS network. The first college radio station began broadcasting on October 14, 1920 from Union College, Schenectady, New York under the personal call letters of Wendell King, an African-American student at the school.

That month 2ADD (renamed WRUC in 1947), aired what is believed to be the first public entertainment broadcast in the United States, a series of Thursday night concerts initially heard within a Template:Convert radius and later for a Template:Convert radius. In November 1920, it aired the first broadcast of a sporting event. At 9 pm on August 27, 1920, Sociedad Radio Argentina aired a live performance of Richard Wagner's opera Parsifal from the Coliseo Theater in downtown Buenos Aires. Only about twenty homes in the city had receivers to tune in this radio program. Meanwhile, regular entertainment broadcasts commenced in 1922 from the Marconi Research Centre at Writtle, England.

Sports broadcasting began at this time as well, including the college football on radio broadcast of a 1921 West Virginia vs. Pittsburgh football game.

In 1943, the United States Supreme Court invalidated one of the Marconi patents, number 763,772 (1904), on the basis it had been anticipated by Tesla, Lodge, and others. After years of patent battles by Marconi's company, the United States Supreme Court, in the 1943 case of Marconi Wireless Telegraph co. of America v. United States, 320 U.S. 1 (1943), said that "it is now held that in the important advance upon his basic patent Marconi did nothing that had not already been seen and disclosed."

Although Marconi claimed that he had no knowledge of prior art regarding adjustable "four-circuit" transformer configuration for radio transmission and reception, the Supreme Court considered his claim false. In addition to that ruling from the Supreme Court, the United States Court of Claims invalidated the fundamental 1935 Marconi patent. The 1943 decision didn't overturn Marconi's original patents, or his reputation as the first person to develop practical radiotelegraphic communication. It just said that the adoption of adjustable transformers in the transmitting and receiving circuits, which was an improvement of the initial invention, was anticipated by patents issued to Oliver Lodge and John Stone Stone. (This decision wasn't unanimous).

[[File:Girl listening to radio.gif|thumb|upright|An American girl listens to a radio during the Great Depression.]] In contrast, related developments in the United Kingdom saw the High Court of Justice uphold Marconi's British Patent, issued on April 26, 1900. This patent disclosed a four-circuit system, which was strikingly similar to a four-circuit system disclosed in U.S. patent #645,576 that was issued earlier to Tesla on March 20, 1900. It must be emphasized that Tesla's patent was not meant to be used in a radio transmission apparatus and it didn't exhibit any presence of a variable inductance for varying the tuning frequency of the four circuits. This is not surprising since Tesla had only a minimal understanding of electromagnetic radio physics Template:Dubious and at least through 1919, he didn't believe that the radio signals predicted by Maxwell and experimentally shown by Hertz really existed. On the matter of invention, it is held that Marconi knowingly and unknowingly used the scientific and experimental work of others who were devising their own radio tuning apparatus' around the same time, such as the work of American electrical engineer John Stone Stone who was issued several U.S. patents between 1904 and 1908. However, what made Marconi more successful than any other was his ability to commercialize radio and its associated equipment into a global business.

One of the first developments in the early 20th century was that aircraft used commercial AM radio stations for navigation. This continued until the early 1960s when VOR systems became widespread. In the early 1930s, single sideband and frequency modulation were invented by amateur radio operators. By the end of the decade, they were established commercial modes. Radio was used to transmit pictures visible as television as early as the 1920s. Commercial television transmissions started in North America and Europe in the 1940s.

In 1954, the Regency company introduced a pocket transistor radio, the TR-1, powered by a "standard 22.5 V Battery." In 1955, the newly formed Sony company introduced its first transistorized radio. It was small enough to fit in a vest pocket, powered by a small battery. It was durable, because it had no vacuum tubes to burn out. Over the next 20 years, transistors replaced tubes almost completely except for high-power transmitters.

By 1963, color television was being broadcast commercially (though not all broadcasts or programs were in color), and the first (radio) communication satellite, Telstar, was launched. In the late 1960s, the U.S. long-distance telephone network began to convert to a digital network, employing digital radios for many of its links. In the 1970s, LORAN became the premier radio navigation system.

Soon, the U.S. Navy experimented with satellite navigation, culminating in the launch of the Global Positioning System (GPS) constellation in 1987. In the early 1990s, amateur radio experimenters began to use personal computers with audio cards to process radio signals. In 1994, the U.S. Army and DARPA launched an aggressive, successful project to construct a software-defined radio that can be programmed to be virtually any radio by changing its software program. Digital transmissions began to be applied to broadcasting in the late 1990s.


From Latin radius (“ray”).

See also

Radio science
Radio technologies

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Radio" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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