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Marconi, Guglielmo

MARCONI, GUGLIELMO

(b. Bologna, Italy, 25 April 1874; d. Rome, Italy, 20 July 1937)

engineering, physics.

Marconi was the second son of Giuseppe Marconi, a wealthy landowner, and his second wife, Annie Jameson, the daughter of an Irish whiskey distiller. His limited formal education, of early private tutoring followed by several years at the Leghorn lyceum, included special instruction in physics. His first wife, Beatrice O’Brien, was of an aristocratic Irish family; his second, Maria Bezzi-Scali, belonged to the papal nobility. Marconi was always a devoted citizen of Italy, and frequently acted in an official capacity for his government. Chief among the many honors awarded him was the Nobel Prize for physics, which he shared with K. F. Braun in 1909.

Marconi seems to have first learned in 1894 of Hertz’s laboratory experiments with electromagnetic waves. He was immediately curious as to how far the waves might travel, and began to experiment, with the assistance of Prof. A. Righi of Bologna. His initial apparatus resembled Hertz’s in its use of a Ruhm-korff-coil spark gap oscillator and dipole antennas with parabolic reflectors, but it replaced Hertz’s sparkring detector with the coherer that had been employed earlier by Branly and Lodge. Marconi quickly discovered that increased transmission distance could be obtained with larger antennas, and his first important invention was the use of sizable elevated antenna structures and ground connections at both transmitter and receiver, in place of Hertz’s dipoles. With this change he achieved in 1895 a transmission distance of 1.5 miles (the length of the family estate), and at about the same time conceived of “wireless telegraph” communication through keying the transmitter in telegraph code.

Marconi was unable to interest the Italian government in the practical potentialities of his work, however. In February 1896 he moved to London, where one of his Irish cousins; Henry Jameson Davis, helped him prepare a patent application. Davis, also arranged demonstrations of the wireless telegraph for government officials and in 1897 helped to form and finance the Wireless Telegraph and Signal Co., Ltd., which in 1900 became Marconi’s Wrieless Telegraph Co., Ltd. By the latter year Marconi had experimentally increased his signaling distance to 150 miles, and had decided to attempt transatlantic transmission. A powerful transmitter was built at Poldhu, Cornwall, England, and a large receiving antenna placed on Cape cod, Massachusetts. When the latter blew down in 1901, Marconi, who was anxious to forestall any competitors, sailed for Newfoundland where, using a kiteborne antenna and Solari’s carbon-on-stell detector with a telephone receiver, on 12 December he received the first transatlantic wireless communication, the three code dots signifying the letter “S.” Already well known, Marconi, at twenty-seven, became world famous overnight.

From 1902 Marconi devoted more of his time to managing his companies, which by 1914 held a commanding position in British and American maritime radio service. (The Radio Corporation of America was formed in 1919, partly to acquire his United States interests.) Throughout his career Marconi was exceptionally fortune in his ability to attract highly qualified employees and consultants; among them J. A. Fleming, inventor of the thermionic diode; H. J. Round, who developed the triode as a radio frequency oscillator and amplifier independently of De Forest; R. M. Vyvyan, who installed many of the early spark stations; and C. S. Franklin, designer of directional antennas. It was Franklin who—drawing upon Marconi’s earlier notion of exploring the communication potentialities of shortwaves by employing dipole antennas with highly directional reflectors— in 1920 developed such dipole antennas into a beamed radio-telephone circuit between London and Birmingham, operating at 20 MHz. Following a series of discoveries (made by radio amateurs, among others) that indicated the feasibility of establishing a 10,000-mile shortwave communication network, operable by both day and night, Marconi’s company completed a globegirdling system of shortwave beam stations in 1927.

From 1921 on Marconi had used his steam yacht Elettra as home, laboratory, and mobile receiving station in propagation experiments. In 1932 he discovered that still higher frequency waves (microwaves) could be received at a point much farther below the optical horizon than had been predicted by any theory. This phenomenon was exploited in later “scatter propagation” circuits, which added new reliability to communications in arctic regions.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

I. Original Works. Papers by Marconi are “Wireless Telegraphy,” in proceedings of the Institution of Electrical Engineers,28 , (1899), 273; “Wireless Telegraphy,” in Proceedings of the Royal Institution of Great Britain,16 (1899– 1901), 247–256; “Syntonic Wireless Telegraphy,” in Royal Society of Arts. Journal,49 (1901), 505; “The progress of Electric Space Telegraphy,” in Proceedings of the Royal Institution of Great Britain,17 (1902–1904), 195–210; “A Note on the Effect of Daylight Upon the Propagation of Electromagnetic Impulses over Long Distances,” in Procedings of the Royal Society,70 (1902), 344; and “Address on Wireless Telegraphy to Annual Dinner,” in Transactions of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers,19 (1902), 93–121.

See also “Recent Advances in Wireless Telegraphy,” in Proceedings of the Royal Institution of Great Britain,18 (1905–1907), 31–45; “Transatlantic Wireless Telegraphy,” ibid., 19 (1908–1910), 107–130; “Radiotelegraphy,” ibid., 20 (1911–1913), 193–209; “Radio Telegraphy,” in Proceedings of the Institute of Radio Engineers, 10 (1922), 215–238; “Results Obtained Over Very Long Distances by Short Wave Directional Wireless Telegraphy, More Generally Referred to as the Beam System,” in Royal Society of Arts. Journal, 72 (1924), 607; “Radio Communication” in Proceedings of the Institute of Radio Engineers, 16 (1928), 40–69; and “Radio Communication by Means of Very Short Electric Waves,” in Proceedings of the Royal Institution of Great Britain,27 (1931–1933), 509–544.

II. Secondary Literature. Fro information on Mar coni’s life and work, see B. L. Jacot de Boinod and D. M. B. Collier, Marconi—Master of Space (London, 1935); Douglas Coe, Marconi, Pioneer of Radio (New York, 1943); O. E. Dunlap, Jr., Marconi, The Man and His Wireless (New York, 1937); Degna Marconi, My Father, Marconi (New York, 1962); and W. P. Jolly, Marconi (New York, 1972).

Robert A. Chipman

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Marconi, Guglielmo, Marchese

Guglielmo Marconi, Marchese (gōōlyĕl´mō märkā´zā märkô´nē), 1874–1937, Italian physicist, celebrated for his development of wireless telegraphy (see radio). In the field of electromagnetic waves he correlated and improved inventions of H. R. Hertz, Édouard Branly, and other scientists and invented a practical antenna. Experimenting with homemade apparatus, in 1895 he sent long-wave signals over a distance of more than a mile. He patented his system in England (1896) and organized a wireless telegraph company (1897) to develop its commercial applications. In 1899 he transmitted signals across the English Channel and in 1901 received in St. John's, N.L., the first transatlantic wireless signals, sent from his station at Poldhu, Cornwall. After World War I he concentrated on short waves, and c.1930 turned his attention to microwaves. He received, jointly with K. F. Braun, the 1909 Nobel Prize in Physics for work in wireless telegraphy.

See biographies by his daughter, D. P. Marconi (1962), D. Gunston (1965), and W. P. Jolly (1972).

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Marconi, Guglielmo

Marconi, Guglielmo (1874–1937) Italian physicist who developed radio. By 1897, he was able to demonstrate radio telegraphy over a distance of 19km (12mi). In 1899, he established radio communication between France and England. By 1901, radio transmissions were being received across the Atlantic Ocean. He received the 1909 Nobel Prize in physics.

http://www.marconicalling.com

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