Guglielmo Marconi

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Guglielmo Marconi 

The man who invented the wireless system

Guglielmo Giovanni Maria Marconi, 1st Marquis of Marconi FRSA (1874 – 1937) was an Italian inventor and electrical engineer, known for his pioneering work on long-distance radio transmission, development of Marconi’s law, and a radio telegraph system. He is credited as the inventor of radio,[6] and he shared the 1909 Nobel Prize in Physics with Karl Ferdinand Braun “in recognition of their contributions to the development of wireless telegraphy”.

Guglielmo Marconi 

The man who invented the wireless system 

I invented the radio and sent the first wireless messages across the Atlantic. My invention changed the speed of communication. I also invented radar systems. They tell us the speed, position and direction of objects which we can’t see. 


I was born in Italy. My mother was Irish and my father was Italian. When I was a child, I learnt two languages – English and Italian. I could communicate with people in two different ways. Communication was very important in my life. 

When I was young, it wasn’t easy to communicate with other countries. A few people used the telegraph. This machine sent electric signals through a wire between two places. I asked myself, ‘Is there a better way to communicate?’ ‘Can one person hear another person at a distance without using a wire?’ ‘Can voice messages travel from one city to another?’ 

I wanted to find answers to my questions so I started doing experiments. I didn’t attend university. I worked at home with very simple equipment and my father helped me. In 1895, I was able to send radio waves over a distance of 100 metres! I was very excited. But some scientists told me, ‘It’s only possible to send waves in straight lines.’ They also said, ‘It isn’t possible if there is an object between the two places.’ I didn’t agree and I decided to try a new experiment. 

I built a receiving station behind a hill and asked my assistant, Mr Mignani, to stay behind the hill. I gave him a gun and said, ‘I’ll send you a message from home. Fire this gun if you can hear me.’ I went to my father’s house and sent him the message. Suddenly, I heard a very loud sound. It was Mignani’s gun! My discovery was very important because it was the first wireless radio message in history! 


I needed money for my research but in Italy no one was interested in my invention. I travelled to England in 1896 and showed my radio to William Preece from the British Post Office. He was interested in my work and decided to help me. He gave me money and I did many more experiments. Soon I was able to send messages over longer distances. My invention was now ready to use. 

The next year, I got a patent for wireless telegraphy and started the Wireless Telegraph and Signal Company. More and more people from business and government showed interest in my work and my life became busier and busier. In 1898, I opened the first radio factory in England with the help of some investors. In 1899, radio communication between England and France became possible. My company was growing fast and we needed more people to work in the factory. As a result, a new training college was opened in 1901. It was an exciting time. 


My next question was, ‘Can radio waves cross the Atlantic?’ ‘That’s too far away,’ many scientists said. Once again, I thought they were wrong so I tried a new experiment. 

I sailed across the Atlantic to Newfoundland in Canada. When I was there, I put antennae on kites. The kites went high in the sky and helped to receive radio waves. On 12th December 1901, I got a message from Poldhu in England about 2,500 miles away. On that day, the world became smaller. The speed of communication did not depend on winds and ocean waves any more. It now depended on radio waves.  

I was very lucky when I met Beatrice O’Brien. We got married on 16th March 1905, and we had three daughters and a son. It was a busy time. I was invited to Canada and Russia and received a lot of honours. In 1909, I received the Nobel Prize for Physics which I shared with Karl Braun. 

In the same year, two ships, the ‘SS Republic’ and the ‘SS Florida’ collided in the North Atlantic Ocean. Rescuers received radio messages and saved 4,000 people from the ships. Three years later, 712 survivors of the ‘RMS Titanic’ were saved because of wireless technology. My radio system helped to save lives! 


Soon everyone thought that my invention was very important. Communication did not depend on undersea wires or landlines any longer. My radio made communication much easier. Radio was useful for business, politics and wars, and I continued to work hard. 

But sadly, the First World War started in 1914. Communication became so important that the British government took control of my company. I couldn’t run my business or do research, so I decided to return to Italy. I joined the army and was responsible for the army’s radio service. They were sad times. A lot of people died. 

After the war, I returned to England because there was more opportunity to do business there. But I had to spend a lot of time in meetings. There was a strong connection between technology, power and business, and important people in business and government wanted to talk to me. I couldn’t spend much time with my family. Our marriage ended in 1924. 

I was very happy when, some years later, I met Maria Cristina Bezzi-Scali. We got married on 15th June 1927 and had a daughter three years later. I had a family again. 


During times of peace, I found more uses for wireless technology. People had radios in their homes. Ships used special radio waves. But my most important invention of the time was a new ‘Radio Detection and Ranging’ system. It was called radar. Its waves could tell us the speed of objects. They could also tell us the exact position of planes and ships. I sold radar systems to different companies and governments around the world. 

When I became ill, I decided to return to Italy. I wanted to spend the last years of my life in my country. I died in Rome in 1937. I made an important contribution to the world. I hope scientists will continue to develop wireless technology. I hope they will use it for the benefit of everyone. 

The Life of Guglielmo Marconi: 

1874 – Guglielmo Marconi was born in Bologna, Italy. 

1895 – He sent radio waves from his father’s house to a small receiving station behind a hill. 

1896 – He travelled to London to show his invention. William Preece from the British Post Office showed interest. He gave his first public talk in London. It was called ‘Telegraphy without Wires.’ 

1897 – He got his first patent for wireless telegraphy. He started The Wireless Telegraph and Signal Company. 

1898 – He opened the world’s first radio factory in Chelmsford, England. 

1899 – He sent a radio signal across the English Channel from France to England. 

1900 – His company changed its name to Marconi’s Wireless Telegraph Company. 

1901 – He sent a message by radio telegraph across the Atlantic. He started Marconi’s Wireless Telegraph Training College to teach people to use radio systems. 

1905 – He married Beatrice O’Brien. They had three daughters and a son. 

1907 – The Trans-Atlantic radio telegraph system started working. 

1909 – He received the Nobel Prize for Physics, together with Karl Braun, for their work on wireless telegraphy. 

1912 – His wireless technology helped to rescue survivors of the ‘RMS Titanic.’ 

1914 – He joined the Italian army during the First World War. He was responsible for the army’s radio service. 

1920 – He sent the first entertainment radio messages in the United Kingdom from the Chelmsford factory. 

1922 – He helped to start the British Broadcasting Company. 

1924 – He divorced his first wife. 

1927 – He married Maria Cristina Bezzi-Scali. They had a daughter, Maria Elettra Elena Anna, three years later. 

1934 – He continued his research and invented Radio Detection and Ranging (RADAR). 

1937 – He became ill and moved to Italy. He died when he was 63 years old in Rome. Radio stations around the world were silent for two minutes. 

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