Guglielmo Marconi was an Italian physicist and inventor of a successful wireless telegraph. He later worked on the development of shortwave wireless communication, which constitutes the basis of nearly all modern long-distance radio.
Guglielmo Marconi Early Life
Marconi was born into the Italian nobility as Guglielmo Giovanni Maria Marconi in Bologna on 25 April 1874.
He is the second son of Giuseppe Marconi, an Italian country gentleman, and Annie Jameson, daughter of Andrew Jameson of Daphne Castle in the County Wexford, Ireland.
Marconi did not attend school as a child and did not go on to formal higher education. Instead, he learned chemistry, math, and physics at home from a series of private tutors hired by his parents.
He was educated privately at Bologna, Florence and Leghorn. Even as a boy, he took a keen interest in physical and electrical science and studied the works of Maxwell, Hertz, Righi, Lodge and others.
From youth, Marconi was interested in science and electricity. Later in the early 1890s, he began working on the idea of “wireless telegraphy”—i.e., the transmission of telegraph messages without connecting wires as used by the electric telegraph.
Guglielmo Marconi Radio Wave Experiment
In 1895, he began laboratory experiments at his father’s country estate at Pontecchio where he succeeded in sending wireless signals over a distance of one and a half mile.
Late one night, in December 1894, Marconi demonstrated a radio transmitter and receiver to his mother, a set-up that made a bell ring on the other side of the room by pushing a telegraphic button on a bench.
In 1896, Marconi took his apparatus to England where he was introduced to Mr. (later Sir) William Preece, Engineer-in-Chief of the post office. Later that year patent office granted him the world’s first patent for a system of wireless telegraphy.
He demonstrated his system successfully in London, on Salisbury Plain and across the Bristol Channel, and in July 1897 formed Marconi’s Wireless Telegraph Company Limited.
In the same year, he gave a demonstration to the Italian Government at Spezia. He sent wireless signals over a distance of twelve miles.
In 1899, he established wireless communication between France and England across the English Channel.
He erected permanent wireless stations at The Needles, Isle of Wight, at Bournemouth and later at the Haven Hotel, Poole, Dorset.
In December 1901, determined to prove that wireless waves were not affected by the curvature of the Earth.
Guglielmo Marconi Patent
He used his system for transmitting the first wireless signals across the Atlantic between Poldhu, Cornwall, and St. John’s, Newfoundland, a distance of 2100 miles.
In 1902, during a voyage in the American liner, Philadelphia, he first demonstrated daylight effect relative to wireless communication.
In the same year patented his magnetic detector which then became the standard wireless receiver for many years.
Later in December 1902, he transmitted the first complete messages to Poldhu from stations at Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, and later Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
In 1904 he met her friend, Beatrice O’Brien (1882–1976), a daughter of The 14th Baron Inchiquin. On 16 March 1905, Beatrice O’Brien married Marconi, and spent their honeymoon on Brownsea Island. They had three daughters.
In 1905, he patented his horizontal directional aerial and in 1912, a “timed spark” system for generating continuous waves.
Guglielmo Marconi Italian Army Captain
In 1914, Italian Army commissioned Guglielmo in the Italian Army as a Lieutenant later promoted to Captain. In 1916, Army transferred him to the Navy in the rank of Commander.
Later he was a member of the Italian Government mission to the United States in 1917 and in 1919 was appointed Italian plenipotentiary delegate to the Paris Peace Conference.
Italian government awarded him the Italian Military Medal in 1919 in recognition of his war service. During his war service in Italy, he returned to his investigation of short waves, which he had used in his first experiments.
Guglielmo Marconi Micro Waves & Radar
Later he conducted an intensive series of trials in 1923 between experimental installations at the Poldhu Station. This led to the establishment of the beam system for long distance communication.
British Government accepted proposals to use this system as a means of Imperial communications. The government also opened the first beam station, linking England and Canada, in 1926.
Later in 1931, Marconi began research into the propagation characteristics of still shorter waves, resulting in the opening in 1932 of the world’s first microwave radiotelephone link between Vatican City and the Pope’s summer residence at Castel Gandolfo.
Two years later at Sestri Levante, he demonstrated his microwave radio beacon for ship navigation.
In 1935, again in Italy, gave a practical demonstration of the principles of radar, the coming of which he had first foretold in a lecture to the American Institute of Radio Engineers in New York in 1922.
Guglielmo Marconi Honor & Awards
He has been the recipient of honorary doctorates from several universities.
Soon many other international honours and awards, among them the Nobel Prize for Physics, which in 1909 he shared with Professor Karl Braun, the Albert Medal of the Royal Society of Arts, the John Fritz Medal and the Kelvin Medal.
Tsar of Russia decorated him with the Order of St. Anne. The King of Italy created him Commander of the Order of St. Maurice and St. Lazarus, and awarded him the Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown of Italy in 1902.
Marconi also received the freedom of the City of Rome (1903), and Chevalier of the Civil Order of Savoy in 1905.
Many other distinctions of this kind followed. In 1914, he was both created a Senatore in the Italian Senate and appointed Honorary Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order in England. He received the hereditary title of Marchese in 1929.
Guglielmo Marconi Death
Later he annulled his first marriage in 1927, he married the Countess Bezzi-Scali of Rome, the same year.
Marconi suffered nine heart attacks in the span of 3 years preceding his death. Marconi died in Rome on 20 July 1937 at age 63, following the ninth, fatal, heart attack, and Italy held a state funeral for him.