Calling with Wireless Telegraphy

Many of the luxuries that we enjoy in today’s society would be utterly impossible without the inventions of our ancestors. This is especially true in an age when technology is often the main means of communication between individuals, businesses, and even countries. Much of the technology that we use today, whether making a call on a cell phone or browsing the Web, relies on wireless connections. Although the Internet and other forms of wireless communication have not been in existence for as long as other forms of technology that we enjoy, the roots of wireless communication can be traced all the way back to 1895.

History of the Wireless Telegraph

In 1985, a man by the name of Guglielmo Marconi developed the first useable telegraphy transmitters and receivers without the use of wires. This was a remarkable development for the time period, as telegraphy transmitters and receivers had always previously depended on the use of wired connections. This practice utilized Morse code that was transmitted by electromagnetic waves, known at the time as Hertzian waves. Hertzian waves were named after their discoverer, Heinrich Hertz, in the year 1886. By the time that these waves were more commonly used through Marconi’s wireless telegraphy transmitters and receivers, it was 1910, and they had become known instead as radio waves. Before successfully creating the wireless telegraph, Marconi performed a lot of research, demonstrations, and experiments. It is believed that Marconi first began to understand the use of radio waves for wireless transmission after reading about experiments that were conducted by Hertz as well as other inventions and experiments by Thomas Commerford Martin. He did a number of experiments to better understand the transmission of radio waves. Starting with simple transmissions within his home, Marconi eventually was able to transmit these waves over a distance of a mile before taking his findings to the public.

How it Works

By 1986, Marconi had filed a patent with the British Patent Office. Marconi’s use of radio waves and the design of his receivers and transmitters were based on techniques and designs that had been created by others, but he fine-tuned these experiments and devices, creating the first useable wireless transmitters and receivers utilizing radio waves. One of the basic concepts behind wireless transmission is known as Marconi’s law. Marconi’s law recognizes the relationship between antenna height and the maximum distance that radio waves are capable of being transmitted. Understanding this relationship made it possible for Marconi to transmit radio signals over a variety of distances.

Morse Code

Morse code is a language that is unlike any other. It is used to transmit information through the use of lights or tones. It was invented by Samuel Morse, the inventor of the first wired telegraph. Samuel Morse discovered that he could create electrical pulses of different lengths with his telegraph. These electrical pulses would transfer through the wires, and when they reached the telegraph receiver, they would mark a series of dots (short electrical pulses) and dashes (long electrical pulses) on paper tape. These dots and dashes were used to represent letters of the alphabet. With wireless telegraphy, these electrical pulses traveled by radio wave instead of wires. In order for a person to understand these messages, whether transmitted by a wired or wireless telegraph, they must be able to translate Morse code. At the height of telegraph use, many became skilled in Morse code.

Amateur Radio

While amateur radio and wireless telegraphy are two seemingly different concepts, they are actually quite intertwined with one another. Marconi’s work made it much simpler to transmit radio waves over long distances. With the ability to transmit radio waves, in 1912, it became necessary to implement standards for radio usage. The Radio Act of 1912 required those operating amateur radios to become licensed. There were also restrictions put in place to eliminate interference between stations. Today, there are still standards in place, but the world of amateur radio has grown immensely. There are still amateur radio stations and operators today using the same basic concepts first developed for use in wireless telegraphy.