What I want to do today is to cover something of the history of radio.





Here, I will give you landmark dates, facts and general info.



But in the seminars we will consider:


what sort of medium radio is,


how it connects to its  audience and


with what kinds of meanings,


what kind of intensity, and


what kind of experience.







To trace the history of radio is to do at least two things:



1)  to outline the history of radio as an electronic medium from its discovery to a workable item to be found in most homes for the purpose of receiving broadcasting.




2)  To discuss the history of radio as: the establishment of a broadcasting service organisation

for our purposes- in Britain.



It is often the case that something is invented – perhaps `created’ would be a better word - before it is recognised and named as such and such an artefact.




This was no less the case with the radio.





Radio wave emissions and even how to control them to ‘tune’ them –


was known about long before the radio receiver was available by which to receive transmitted sounds.






1860 James Clark Maxwell had postulated electromagnetic waves




between 1886 and 1888 the german physicist Hertz developed detecting devices.




He called them `aetheric’ radiations




As early as 1875, Elihu Thomson in Philadelphia showed that a spark occurred between a pencil point and a brass door knob when a common electrical  generator called a sparking coil  was operated 100 feet away in another room.



`Transmission at a distance’ – the wireless event.





Beween 1887 and 1880 David Hughes, the inventor of the microphone,



Finds that each time he did a certain experiment it would produce a noise in one of his microphones on the other side of the room.




Soon he was demonstrating to some of the scientists of the day that he could transmit a signal from his equipment to a microphone 500 yards away.





Thus several people had actually caused signalling at a distance




without a wired connection




between the two points,





but nobody had grasped the idea of using radiation  phenomena


as a signalling device.





Anyway why would they consider a new method of signalling worth it when they had just developed the electric telegraph and the telephone.





In other words there was no immediate social or cultural necessity for such an invention.





Across the next decade more research done




but still no-one had seen the significance of being able to send a bit of info – a signal -  without wires.





Significant Radio Scientists


Augusto Righi, Bologna Univ.


Sir Oliver Lodge – the coherer.




1892 a colleague of Lodges, Sir Bill Crookes pointed out that there could be a radio telegraph without wires, posts, cables or any of our present costly appliances.



Still no overwhelming need made clear.



Lodge did famous demonstration of wireless telegraphy at Oxford in August 1894 but not seen as ‘wireless – merely seen as something else.




1895 - student of Righi’s,  Gugliemo Marconi can be said to have invented the radio.




M. brought technology and necessity together:



Realised the need for a transmitting aerial


Marconi managed to send signals of 1.5 miles





But to be wanted you need to be needed – other have to see a reason to listen to you


‘socially supervening necessity’  – the  rationale for a device.


Marconi had an application for these radio signals beyond a mere curiosity naval signalling.




His mother had contacts where it mattered:




a leading scientist of the day who put Marconi



in contact with the chief engineer of the Post office – Will. Preeece



who then arranged a demo of M’s equipment on Salisbury Plain



which led to contacts



with the Admirality







The vast cumbersome ships in the navy desperately needed efficient signalling to coordinate their turning around lest they crash into each other.





Marconi patented his “Improvements in transmitting electrical impulses and signals” in London in June 1896.





This gave him legal control over his radio signalling devices, and was of course the basis of the later marconi company.





Basic conditions to be recognised as THE inventor were:



1) Technological discoveries





2) social need/relevance 





3) legal claim to invention







Popov was working in parallel in Russia in 1896 but of course it was M. who prevailed in the eyes of the world.


Wireless telegraphy spread fast in shipping






M failed in his efforts to maintain his monopoly over the use of his equipment.



Marconi Co tried to prohibit communication between M stations and other stations not using  M  equip.



The 1906 Berlin Conf on wireless agreed the principle of free inter-comms.


The romance of the new tech was ensured by  the capture of Dr Crippen and the response to signals received from the Titanic 1912.



But important that SOS had been standardised by the 1906 conf.







 Marconi had started his own Co. By 1901 he had sent a signal from Cornwall to Newfoundland,



celebrated in all the worlds media.






But Reg Fessenden, a Canadian Dec 1906 managed to transmit music across the airwaves. BUT WHO KNOWS OF REG?


Need to restrict signals to a defined geographical area, otherwise interference of one signal upon another.



this was the very basis for broad-casting.




The tuning of a receiver to a particular frequency by ‘a rectifier’.





David Sarnoff in 1920 grasped the idea of a receiver functioning as a radio music box.





 By 1920 the first US radio station was broadcasting (KDKA) nov  1920.



New Industries on several fronts



 Sarnoff saw that radio could become a mass medium.



In US by 1922 radio stations pouring out music and talk,



radio sales  booming $60mln.






In the UK demand to broadcast by various companies who were manufacturing radio



on the back on the broadcasts radios would sell.





Marconi started an experimental station at Chelmsford in 1920,



but wireless communications needed a licensed by the GPO and thus by the Govt.




The GPO were reluctant to let Marconi Co have a monopoly over broadcasting – the problem of power and influence over peoples minds




with the rise of radio manufacturers,


the govt/GPO proposed that there should be one company

made up out of the radio manufacturers

who would be given a monopoly

as agreed by the

Post Master General, and Government



a few landmarks in radio.

1946 Third prog,

1967 R1, 2, 3, 4.

1972 Commercial Radio.