Scientific Identity: Portraits from the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology.
Portrait of Guglielmo Marconi.
Picture the telephone you use to call your friends and family. Now imagine them on the machine in the photo, pictured alongside its inventor, Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937). Marconi began experimenting with wireless communications as a child growing up in Italy. In 1896, at the age of 22, he was granted the worlds first patent for wireless telegraphy. Marconi set up his first wireless telegraph stations across the English Channel in 1899 and across the Atlantic Ocean in 1901. He did this after having successfully proved in 1900 that the curve of the Earth did not harm the quality of the message! His proof led to the discovery of the ionosphere a layer of the atmosphere that reflects radio waves. The wired telegraph worked by sending electrical pulses down a cable in a coded message usually Morse code that could be printed out as a series of hole punches and then translated by the operator at the other end. Marconi, with Karl Ferdinand Braun, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1909.