This is the Marconi section of
The Broadcast Archive

Maintained by:
Barry Mishkind - The Eclectic Engineer
Updated: 12/15/00

Guglielmo Marconi (1874 - 1937)

In 1895, Marconi built a transmitter and receiver in his house, sending signals from one end of the house to the other. Later that year, he reportedly transmitted to his garden, then to a listening post 1.5 miles away. 

When the Italian government refused to finance his work, Marconi moved to England. His goal was to transmit across the Atlantic Ocean. Marconi set up operations in several places. Among them, Lavernock, near Porthcawl, Wales; Poldhu, Cornwall, England; Holy Head, Wales; and St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada. 

On May 13, 1897, Marconi transmitted wireless signals from Flatholm Island, just off the coast of Wales to Lavernock. In conjunction with W.H. Preece, this led to the development of the first practical wireless transmission system to be used for commercial purposes.

On April 26, 1900,  Marconi received a patent (Number 7777) from the British Government.

On May 21, 1901 the listening post set up Marconi at Queens Park, Holyhead picked up what may be the first ever ship-to-shore radio message from the middle of the Atlantic.


Marconi Signal Station - 1901
Pictures courtesy of Marconi Archives, UK and Ray Steadman - Holyhead Lifeboat Crewman
(Mr. Steadman's family lives in this house, 66 Queen's Park, today)

A ship called SS Lake Champlain was going from Liverpool to Halifax, Nova Scotia. The attempt was made to make a test radio transmission from the ship to Crookhaven in Southern Ireland, but instead contact was made with the Marconi post at Holyhead. An account of this reception and history can be found here.

The station was thought to have been demolished after the second world war but was found to be still in existence and apart from the mast (ariel) the house looks the same as it did in 1901.

In November 1901, Marconi installed a new transmitter at Poldhu, said to be 100 times more powerful than any other transmitter then in existence.

Then, on December 12, 1901, he received signals from across the ocean, ushering in a new age of communication over long distances. This truly can be said to be the invention that "shrunk the world."

Over the coming years, Marconi built a major corporation that dominated wireless telegraphy for some years. The Marconi company today is still a force in the electronics industry. 

Among his other achievements was the 1909 Nobel Prize for Physics.

Guglielmo Marconi died on July 20, 1937