The following obituary of Guglielmo Marconi appeared in the August 1937 edition of Television and Short Wave World magazine.
WE regret to announce the death of the Marchese Marconi, which took place in Rome on July 20. Death was due to heart failure. Guglielmo Marconi was born at Bologna on April 25th, 1874. His father was an Italian country gentleman who, in 1864, married Miss Annie Jameson, of Daphne Castle, County Wexford, Ireland. He was educated- privately at Bologna, Florence and Leghorn. As a boy he took a keen interest in physical and electrical science. In 1895 the idea became firmly rooted in his mind that a system of telegraphy through space could be provided by means of electric waves, the existence of which had been foreseen mathematically by Clerk Maxwell in 1864 and later investigated experimentally by Heinrich Hertz, Oliver Lodge, Righi, and others.
In the early summer of 1895, Marconi conducted a number of experiments at his father's country house at Pontecchio, near Bologna. These experiments, made with crude and inefficient apparatus, soon began to give results which appeared to Marconi to be remarkable, communication being established in that year over distances in excess of a mile.
In 1896, Marconi came to England, and on June 2 of that year took out the first patent ever granted for wireless telegraphy based on the use of electric waves. He continued his experiments in London, and in the same year demonstrated his invention before officials of the Post Office and other representatives of British and Foreign Government departments. These demonstrations were first carried out on the roof of the General Post Office, St. Martin's-le-Grand, London. Later experiments for the Post Office were carried out on Salisbury Plain and across the Bristol Channel
In June, 1897, at the invitation of the Italian Government, Marconi went to Spezia, where a land station was erected and communication with Italian warships was established up to a distance of 12 miles. He was then invited to demonstrate his apparatus in Rome, where successful tests were carried out. Other tests also took place at the Italian Chamber of Deputies.
The time was now almost ripe for wireless telegraphy to be applied to commercial and utilitarian purposes, and in July, 1897, a company was formed in London to acquire the Marconi patents in all countries except Italy. This company was called the Wireless Telegraph and Signal Co., Ltd., which in 1900 changed its name to that of Marconi's Wireless' Telegraph Co., Ltd. For some time the company's efforts were confined to furthering Marconi's pioneer work.
Wireless telegraphy was first used for commercial purposes in 1898, when the Kingstown regacta races were reported for the Dublin Express by Marconi by means of wireless apparatus installed on a tug which followed the yachts in the Irish Sea.
The utility of wireless in saving life at sea was demonstrated for the first time when, on March 3, J899, a steamer collided with a lightship. The. accident was at once reported by wireless to the South Foreland, enabling lifeboats to be promptly sent to the assistance of the light vessel. In March, 1898, Marconi established communication across the English Channel between England and France. During this year wireless was also first utilised in the naval manoeuvres for communication between warships over distances of 74 miles. The first military application of wireless took place during the South African war.
During this period numerous improvements embodied in patents taken out by Marconi were utilised. On April 26, 1900, he applied for a patent for " tuned or syntonic telegraphy as well as multiplex telegraphy with a single aerial." This patent, the number of which was 7,777, became famous in the history of wireless, and its validity was upheld in the High Court.
In October, 1900, the erection of a long distance wireless telegraph station in Cornwall was commenced by Marconi and preliminary tests were carried out up to a distance of about 200 miles. On December 12, 1901, Marconi, on his first attempt, succeeded in transmitting and receiving signals across the Atlantic Ocean from Poldhu in Cornwall to St. John's, Newfoundland. This achievement completely confirmed Marconi's opinion that electric waves would not be stopped by the curvature of the earth and therefore could be made to travel any distance separating any two places on our planet, a view he had held for many years in the face of considerable opposition. The wireless conquest of the Atlantic may be regarded as the culminating point of Marconi's pioneer work.
In 1916, during the world war, experiments were commenced by Marconi in Italy with very short waves, with the object of devising a directive, or beam system, of wireless telegraphy for war purposes. This was a principle on which he had also worked during his earliest experiments, but work on these lines had been put on one side in favour of the use of longer and longer waves combined with higher power. Later, in England, with the assistance of Mr. C. S. Franklin, important results were obtained by the use of 15-metre waves between London and Birmingham.
The anticipations of Marconi were fully justified by the results obtained since that time with short waves by British and foreign experimenters. Marconi was the first to discover in October, 1924, that short waves of the order, of 30 metres in length could be transmitted and received over the greatest distances during daylight.
The value of Marconi's work has been recognised by governments, universities and learned societies all over the world.
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6th February 2007