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Marconi, Guglielmo, Marquese

radio equipment developed detector

(Marquis) (1874– 1937) Italian physicist and engineer: pioneer of radio telegraphy.

Of mixed Italian and Irish parentage, Marconi was privately educated and later studied at the Technical Institute of Livorno.

At the age of 21, intrigued by ‘electric waves’, Marconi developed improved radio equipment capable of transmitting for a range of over a mile (the length of the family estate). To achieve this he used ground connections for both transmitter and receiver; larger, elevated antenna; and coherer as detector, all improvements on Hertz’s methods. In 1896 he succeeded in interesting the British government in his invention, and 3 years later transmitted code across the English Channel. This attracted considerable attention, particularly from the Admiralty, who began to install his equipment on Royal Navy ships. In 1901 he transmitted across the Atlantic from Cornwall to a kite-borne antenna in Newfoundland and became a household name overnight at the age of 27. In 1909 he shared the Nobel Prize for physics.

Although Marconi did not discover radio waves, and may be thought of as primarily an electrical engineer and businessman, he developed much of the technology necessary for its practical use, such as the directional aerial and the magnetic detector. During the First World War he developed short-wave radio equipment capable of directional transmission over long distances, and by 1927 had established a worldwide radio telegraph network on behalf of the British government. He spent most of his life improving and extending radio as a practical means of communication and building a company to commercialize it; from 1921 he used his steam yacht Elettra as his home, laboratory and mobile receiving station.

Marcus, Stanley - Overview, Personal Life, Career Details, Chronology: Stanley Marcus, Social and Economic Impact [next] [back] Marciano

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