Sunday, December 12, 2010

First Atlantic Radio Transmission Still Controversial

On December 12, 1901, a radio signal was sent across the Atlantic Ocean from England to Canada. It was the first time that a wireless transmission ever crossed such a distance, and in 2010 the credit for the invention of radio is still the subject of heated debate. Was the "father of radio" really Marconi, or was it a lesser-remembered scientist? "Italian physicist and radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi succeeds in sending the first radio transmission across the Atlantic Ocean, disproving detractors who told him that the curvature of the earth would limit transmission to 200 miles or less. The message--simply the Morse-code signal for the letter 's'--traveled more than 2,000 miles from Poldhu in Cornwall, England, to Newfoundland, Canada." ( How did Marconi's transatlantic radio signal manage to cross the Atlantic? As any late-night listener of AM radio knows today, it "skipped" across, bouncing off of the ionosphere. When you're able to hear an AM radio station, or short wave or ham transmission for that matter, after the sun sets, it's because the ionosphere reflects the space-bound signal back to Earth, over the horizon. Marconi was certainly a brilliant scientist, and he deserved credit for making his transoceanic transmission. In fact, he won a Nobel Prize for Physics for his work in 1909 (shared with Ferdinand Braun). A century later, there is still debate over Marconi's role in the invention of radio technology. Guglielmo Marconi was a radio innovator, for sure, and he did much to advance radio. But who really invented the hardware, if you will, that made Marconi's work possible? Many, including the U.S. Supreme Court, say that it was really the Serbian-American inventor Nikola Tesla. (There is no mention of Nikola Tesla anywhere on the official website of the Nobel Prize.) In an article titled "The Invention of Radio," writer Mary Bellis notes this: "Nikola Tesla is now credited with being the first person to patent radio technology; the Supreme Court overturned Marconi's patent in 1943 in favor of Tesla." Full article at Tesla was far ahead of the technology curve. So far, in fact, that he had already "invented radio and created the original basic design as early as 1892. In 1898 he patented a radio controlled robot-boat and demonstrated it at the Electrical Exhibition in Madison Square Garden." (Source: Tesla Society of USA and Canada) Tesla sued the Marconi Company for infringement after Marconi won his Nobel Prize, in 1915. Tesla, however, "was in no financial condition to litigate a case against a major corporation. It wasn't until 1943—a few months after Tesla's death— that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Tesla's radio patent number 645,576." (Source: Marconi died in 1937. Other Tesla inventions include a telephone repeater, rotating magnetic field principle, polyphase alternating-current system, induction motor, alternating-current power transmission, Tesla coil transformer, wireless communication, radio, fluorescent lights, and more than 700 other patents. (Source: RELATED: Marconi sends first Atlantic wireless transmission Tesla Files Lawsuit Against Guglielmo Marconi Who Invented Radio? PBS United States Supreme Court decision (320 U.S. 1, 38) Mayor Laguardia's eulogy to Tesla, January 10, 1943 Nikola Tesla: The Genius Who Lit the World (with video) Tesla timeline, inventions, patents and more Tesla Universe Tesla Society of USA and Canada Directory:Tesla's Patent List Nathan Stubblefield - Forgotten Genius Of Wireless Phones Earth Energy and Vocal Radio - Nathan Stubblefield