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Guglielmo Marconi

Marconi, Guglielmo, Marchese (1874-1937), Italian electrical engineer and Nobel laureate, known as the inventor of the first practical radio-signalling system. He was born in Bologna and educated at the University of Bologna. As early as 1890 he became interested in wireless telegraphy, and by 1895 he had developed apparatus with which he succeeded in sending signals to a point a few kilometres away by means of a directional antenna. After patenting his system in Britain, he formed (1897) Marconi's Wireless Telegraph Company Ltd in London. In 1899 he established communication across the English Channel between England and France, and in 1901 he communicated signals across the Atlantic Ocean between Poldhu, in Cornwall, and St John's, in Newfoundland, Canada. His system was soon adopted by the British and Italian navies, and by 1907 had been so much improved that a transatlantic wireless telegraph service was established for public use. Marconi was awarded honours by many countries and received, jointly with the German physicist Karl Ferdinand Braun, the 1909 Nobel Prize for Physics for his work in wireless telegraphy. During World War I he was in charge of the Italian wireless service and developed short-wave transmission as a means of secret communication. In the remaining years of his life he experimented with short waves and microwaves.

It was the Italian electrical engineer and inventor Guglielmo Marconi who then took the most significant steps, combining technical inventiveness with business acumen. He succeeded in developing both a suitable receiver, or "coherer", and an improved spark oscillator, which was connected to a crude but effective antenna to transmit radio waves over significant distances. His transmitter was modulated with an ordinary telegraph key, and a crude amplification relay activated a telegraphic instrument at the receiving end.

In 1896 Marconi transmitted signals for a distance exceeding 1.6 km (1 mi) and applied for his first British patent. Within a year of his first demonstration he transmitted signals from shore to a ship at sea 29 km (18 mi) away. In 1899 he established commercial communication between England and France, and in 1901 he succeeded in sending a simple message across the Atlantic. He had demonstrated that radio waves could travel beyond the horizon, and had used his flair for the dramatic to bring the concept of radio to the attention of governmental agencies and business interests.

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