Guglielmo Marconi

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Guglielmo Marconi : biography

25 April 1874 – 20 July 1937

Marconi began to build high-powered stations on both sides of the Atlantic to communicate with ships at sea, in competition with other inventors. In 1904 a commercial service was established to transmit nightly news summaries to subscribing ships, which could incorporate them into their on-board newspapers. A regular transatlantic radio-telegraph service was finally begun on 17 October 1907. Sydney Daily Post. 24 October 1907. between Clifden Ireland and Glace Bay, but even after this the company struggled for many years to provide reliable communication to others.

Titanic

The two radio operators aboard the Titanic—Jack Phillips and Harold Bride—were not employed by the White Star Line, but by the Marconi International Marine Communication Company. Following the sinking of the ocean liner, survivors were rescued by the RMS Carpathia of the Cunard Line.John P. Eaton & Charles A. Haas Titanic – Triumph and Tragedy, A Chronicle in Words and Pictures. 1994 ISBN 0857330241. Also employed by the Marconi Company was David Sarnoff, the only person to receive the names of survivors immediately after the disaster via wireless technology. Wireless communications were reportedly maintained for 72 hours between the Carpathia and Sarnoff, but Sarnoff’s involvement has been questioned by some modern historians. When the Carpathia docked in New York, Marconi went aboard with a reporter from The New York Times to talk with Bride, the surviving operator. On 18 June 1912, Marconi gave evidence to the Court of Inquiry into the loss of the Titanic regarding the marine telegraphy’s functions and the procedures for emergencies at sea.Court of Inquiry Loss of the S.S. Titanic 1912 Britain’s postmaster-general summed up, referring to the Titanic disaster, "Those who have been saved, have been saved through one man, Mr. Marconi…and his marvelous invention." Marconi was offered free passage on the Titanic before it sank, but had actually taken the Lusitania three days earlier. As his daughter Degna later explained, he had paperwork to do and preferred the public stenographer aboard that vessel.

Continuing work

Over the years, the Marconi companies gained a reputation for being technically conservative, in particular by continuing to use inefficient spark-transmitter technology, which could only be used for radiotelegraph operations, long after it was apparent that the future of radio communication lay with continuous-wave transmissions, which were more efficient and could be used for audio transmissions. Somewhat belatedly, the company did begin significant work with continuous-wave equipment beginning in 1915, after the introduction of the oscillating vacuum tube (valve). In 1920, employing a vacuum tube transmitter, the New Street Works factory in Chelmsford was the location for the first entertainment radio broadcasts in the United Kingdom, featuring Dame Nellie Melba. In 1922 regular entertainment broadcasts commenced from the Marconi Research Centre at Great Baddow.

Later years

In 1914 Marconi was made a Senator in the Italian Senate and appointed Honorary Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order in the UK. During World War I, Italy joined the Allied side of the conflict, and Marconi was placed in charge of the Italian military’s radio service. He attained the rank of lieutenant in the Italian Army and of commander in the Italian Navy. In 1929, he was made a marquess by King Victor Emmanuel III.

Marconi joined the Italian Fascist party in 1923. In 1930, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini appointed him President of the Royal Academy of Italy, which made Marconi a member of the Fascist Grand Council.

Marconi died in Rome on 20 July 1937 at age 63, following a series of heart attacks, and Italy held a state funeral for him. As a tribute, all radio stations throughout the world observed two minutes of silence on the next day. His remains are housed in the Villa Griffone at Sasso Marconi, Emilia-Romagna, which assumed that name in his honour in 1938.