The Start of Radio

The Nineteenth Century saw the beginning of investigation into electromagnetic waves and their possible application. We who have benefitted from the discoveries of those early times can only marvel that these scientists, both amateur and professional, were able to uncover what they did with the primitive tools at hand. So many men contributed to the development of radio, that it is impossible to give credit to any one individual. While Guglielmo Marconi is considered the father of radio, as with most inventions, he also relied up the work of many others.

Giants on the Shoulders of Giants

Interest in electromagnetism was what ultimately led to radio as we know it today.  Very early in the 19th century, experiments were being conducted by a number of people around the world.  The invention of the telegraph by Samuel Morse was what really stimulated this interest, and soon after telegraphy become known, others began trying to understand electromagnetic fields.  As telegraph needed wires to transmit sound, a way to transmit signals without the need of expensive wires was sought.  James Maxwell, in Scotland, had a theory that light and sound travelled in waves, and this theory has since proven to be true, and is the basis for radio and all wireless transmissions.

Two other important pioneers in radio waves were Dr. Loomis, a dentist from Washington DC, who was able to set up a transmitter and receiver using two kites and copper wires.  When his experiments proved that he could send and receive a message sent from a distance, he was awarded a research grant.  However, a very important step was taken by Heinrich Hertz when he was able to make a real, if simple spark transmitter and receiver.  We still measure radio wave frequency using Hertz’s name.

The Work Advances

Work exploring the possibilities of electromagnetic waves continued with Nicola Tesla, Reginald Fessenden, and Alexander Fleming, and these discoveries all helped to make audio radio a possibility.  In 1906, a Christmas Eve broadcast of music was made available to listeners on the East Coast of the United States, and after World War I, the idea that there should be a radio in every home caught on.

Guglielmo Marconi was responsible for further building on the theories and work of others and eventually built up a system of transmitters in Europe, Canada, and the United States.  While Marconi did not invent radio, he evidently had the means and scope to extend its reach and help it to develop into a commercial possibility.
Radio stations began to spring up in the early years of the 20th Century and it was not long before radio began to take on the face we know today.  Radio has brought music, thoughts, and dreams into millions of homes since it began, and even today, with competition from television and the internet, radio still has a place.  Besides being there reliably every hour of the day and night, radio helps to make long automobile trips more pleasant.  Important information is also spread by means of radio.