The Invention of Radio

4 Jul, 2013 620 Engineering

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the invention of radio. In the early 1860s the Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell derived four equations which together describe the behaviour of electricity and magnetism. They predicted the existence of a previously unknown phenomenon: electromagnetic waves. These waves were first observed in the early 1880s, and over the next two decades a succession of scientists and engineers built increasingly elaborate devices to produce and detect them. Eventually this gave birth to a new technology: radio. The Italian Guglielmo Marconi is commonly described as the father of radio - but many other figures were involved in its development, and it was not him but a Canadian, Reginald Fessenden, who first succeeded in transmitting speech over the airwaves.

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  • Simon Schaffer 25 episodes
    Professor of the History of Science at the University of Cambridge
  • Elizabeth Bruton No other episodes
    Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Leeds
  • John Liffen No other episodes
    Curator of Communications at the Science Museum, London

Reading list

  • Syntony and Spark: The Origins of Radio
    Hugh Aitken (Princeton University Press, 1992) Google Books →
  • Pioneers of Electrical Communication
    Rollo Appleyard (Macmillan, 1930) Google Books →
  • A History of the Marconi Company 1874-1965
    W. J. Baker (Routledge, 1970) Google Books →
  • Communications: An International History of the Formative Years. Vol. 32, IEE History of Technology Series
    Russell W. Burns (Institution of Electrical Engineers, 2004) Google Books →
  • The Shock of the Old: Technology and Global History since 1900
    David Edgerton (Profile, 2008) Google Books →
  • The Early History of Radio from Faraday to Marconi
    G. R. M. Garratt (Institution of Engineering and Technology, 1993) Google Books →
  • The Invisible Weapon: Telecommunications and International Politics, 1851-1945
    Daniel R. Headrick (Oxford University Press, 1991) Google Books →
  • Wireless: From Marconi's Black Box to the Audion
    Sungook Hong (MIT Press, 2010) Google Books →
  • The Early British Radio Industry
    Rowland F. Pocock (Manchester University Press, 1988) Google Books →

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Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. On the 2nd of July 1897, a young Italian living in Bayswater was awarded a patent for a new device.