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Guglielmo Marconi, (April 25, 1874 - July 20, 1937) was an Italian
electrical engineer and Nobel laureate, known for the development of a
practical wireless telegraphy system that achieved widespread use. Marconi
was the President of the Accademia d'Italia. He was an Italian fascist.
Marconi was born in Bologna, Italy, the second son of Giuseppe Marconi, an
Italian landowner, and his wife, Annie Jameson, granddaughter of the founder
of the Jameson & Sons Distillery.
Although many scientists and inventors contributed to the invention of
wireless telegraphy, including ¯rsted, Faraday, Hertz, Tesla, Edison, and
others, Marconi's practical system achieved widespread use, so he is often
credited as the "father of radio". Marconi's practical system was based
primarily on Nikola Tesla's widely known Franklin Institute public
demonstration in Philadelphia.
Marconi was awarded what is sometimes recognised as the World's first patent
for Radio with British Patent 12039, Improvements in transmitting electrical
impulses and signals and in apparatus there-for on July 2, 1897. In July
1897, Marconi formed the London based Wireless Telegraph Trading Signal
Company (later renamed the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company), which opened
the World's first "wireless" factory in Hall Street, Chelmsford, England in
1898, employing around 50 people.
He made a wireless transmission across the water from Ballycastle (Northern
Ireland) to Rathlin Island in 1898.
He received the first trans-Atlantic radio signal on December 12, 1901 in
St. John's, Newfoundland (now in Canada) using a 400-foot kite-supported
antenna for reception. The transmitting station in Poldhu, Cornwall used a
spark-gap transmitter to produce a signal with a frequency of approximately
500kHz and a power of 100 times more than any radio signal previously
produced. The message received was three dots, the Morse code for the letter
S. To reach Newfoundland the signal would have to bounce off the ionosphere
twice. Dr. Jack Belrose has recently contested this, however, based on
theoretical work as well as an actual reenactment of the experiment; he
believes that Marconi heard only random atmospheric noise and mistook it for
On March 16, 1905 he married Beatrice O'Brien, daughter of Edward Dunnough
(O'Brien), 14th Baron Inchiquin. They had three daughters, one of whom lived
only a few weeks, and one son. They divorced later.
Marconi didn't achieve fully reliable transatlantic communication until 1907.
He was the founder of the Marconi corporation and the joint 1909 recipient
of the Nobel Prize in physics. During World War I, Marconi was in charge of
the Italian wireless service. Marconi developed shortwave secret
communication transmissions during this time.
In 1920 Marconi's Chelsford factory was the location of the first officially
publicised sound broadcasts in the UK, one of them featuring Dame Nellie
Melba. In 1922 the World's first regular wireless broadcasts for
entertainment commenced from the Marconi Research Centre at Writtle near
Chelmsford. Marconi joined the Italian fascist party in 1923. Benito
Mussolini made Marconi President of the Accademia d'Italia, which also made
him a member of the Fascist Grand Council. He made fascist speeches on the
Radio in a number of countries.
On June 15, 1927 he married Maria Cristina Bezzi-Scali. Their daughter was
named Maria Elettra Elena Anna Marconi. In 1935, after the Italian invasion
of Ethiopia, the BBC that he had helped found, banned him from broadcasting.
Death and afterwards
Marconi died in Rome on July 20, 1937.
Marconi's claim that he invented radio was always disputed by Nikola Tesla.
Marconi did develop a practical model and was responsible for the first
successful exploitation of the invention. In 1943, an ongoing lawsuit
regarding this was finally resolved in Tesla's favor. This decision was
based on the fact that there was prior work existing before the
establishment of Marconi's patent. At the time, the United States Army was
involved in a patent infringement lawsuit with Marconi's company regarding
radio, leading some to posit that the government granted Tesla the patent on
order to nullify any claims Marconi would have to compensation.