Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Marconi at War

Every day sees humanity more victorious in the struggle with 
space and time.
Guglielmo Marconi (1874–1937), Physicist, Inventor

Guglielmo Marconi is best known for his pioneering work on the long-distance radio transmission. He is also famous for his contributions in the development of Marconi’s law and the radio telegraph system. Today, he is often credited as the inventor of the radio.

Marconi in His Naval Uniform
Marconi was born on 25 April 1874, in Bologna, the second son of an Italian landowner. He was at first educated privately in Bologna. As child, he had a great interests in electricity and science. His early scientific development was influenced by Heinrich Hertz. In 1888 Hertz had demonstrated that a person could produce and even detect electromagnetic radiation (now known as radio waves). Following Hertz's death in 1894 and his rejection by the Italian Naval Academy, Marconi attended the University of Bologna. Within a year, Marconi sent long wave signals over a distance of more than a mile. In 1897 he went to England to develop his invention and set up the Wireless Telegraph and Signal Company (better known as the Marconi Company). In December 1901 he was able to transmit a signal from Cornwall to Newfoundland.

Between 1902 and 1912, Marconi developed a directional aerial receiver and a method for producing continuous waves. In 1909 he shared the Nobel Prize with Karl Braun for the development of wireless telegraphy. He was world famous by the age 35.

In 1914 Marconi became a senator in the Italian Senate. The next year when Italy joined the Allied side, Marconi was placed in charge of the country’s military radio service. He was commissioned in the Italian Army as a lieutenant then later promoted to captain. In 1916 Marconi transferred to the Navy with the rank of commander. He was a member of the Italian government mission to the United States in 1917. After the Armistice, he was appointed Italian plenipotentiary delegate to the Paris Peace Conference and received the Italian Military Medal in recognition of his war service.

During his war service in Italy he returned to his investigation of short waves, which he had used in his first experiments. After further tests by his collaborators in England and an intensive series of trials conducted in 1923, this work led to the establishment of the beam system for long-distance wireless communication. In the 1930s he invented the microwave radio beacon and worked on radar.

Guglielmo Marconi died on 20 July 1937 from heart problems. Italy held a state funeral for him. As a tribute, all the radio stations worldwide observed two minutes of silence.

Sources: Nobel Prize and InfoAge Websites


  1. "In 1916 Marconi transferred to the Navy with the rank of commander" - so he finally got in, eh?

  2. A truly remarkable man who gave birth to what was to become an incredible technology. Also, makes me nostalgic for my old Yagi antenna...