The intriguing story of how wireless was invented by Guglielmo Marconi – and how it amused Queen Victoria, saved the lives of the Titanic survivors, tracked down criminals and began the radio revolution.Wireless was the most fabulous invention of the 19th century: the public thought it was magic, the popular newspapers regarded it as miraculous, and the leading scientists of the day (in Europe and America) could not understand how it worked. In 1897, when the first wireless station was established by Marconi in a few rooms of the Royal Needles Hotel on the Isle of Wight, nobody knew how far these invisible waves could travel through the ‘ether’, carrying Morse Coded messages decipherable at a receiving station. (The definitive answer was not discovered till the 1920s, by which time radio had become a sophisticated industry filling the airwaves with a cacaphony of sounds – most of it American.)Marconi himself was the son of an Italian father and an Irish mother (from the Jameson whiskey family); he grew up in Italy and was fluent in Italian and English, but it was in England that his invention first caught on. Marconi was in his early twenties at the time (he died in 1937). With the ‘new telegraphy’ came the real prospect of replacing the network of telegraphic cables that criss-crossed land and sea at colossal expense. Initially it was the great ships that benefited from the new invention – including the Titanic, whose survivors owed their lives to the wireless.
|Edition description:||Revised ed.|
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)|
About the Author
Gavin Weightman is an experienced television documentary-maker (producer/director/writer), journalist and author of many books such as The Making of Modern London: 1815–1914, The Making of Modern London: 1914–1939, London River, Picture Post Britain and Rescue: A History of the British Emergency Services (Boxtree). His first book for HarperCollins, The Frozen Water Trade, was published in February 2002
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A well-researched and well-written biography of Marconi, with a good selection of contemporary photographs which allow the reader to appreciate how different radio technology was in its early days.Marconi's life, and the world in which he lived and which affected and directed his work, is described in detail, as are the efforts of others who contributed - or claimed to contribute - to the development of radio.The part that I found frustrating was the lack of technical detail, despite the fact that it is alluded to frequently. It becomes clear that Marconi - and many others in radio's early days - simply did not understand many basic ideas of how radio worked. The problems of tuning are frequently mentioned. But I would have appreciated knowing more, from a contemporary perspective, about what they were actually doing, and why (for instance) a magnetic coherer was superior to the device which preceded it.That frustration aside, this book does an excellent job both of telling Marconi's story, warts and all, and reminding us what the world was like before radio, and the changes radio made possible.
Hard to put down,in depth and interesting.highly recommended.