Marconi, radio waves, and the ionosphere


  • W. J. G. Beynon


The life story of Marconi is too well documented to need detailed repetition, but there are certain facts about his early years which bear directly upon his quite remarkable success and indeed which relate to the early development of the subject of wireless telegraphy.

Anyone looking at the early history of radio wave propagation and of Marconi's major role in it, cannot fail to be impressed with certain facts. Thus it is surely remarkable that in February 1896 when he first took his black wireless boxes to England, Marconi was only 21 years old and it is to be remembered that not only was he a very young man but he had had very little formal training in science. The second remarkable fact is that on 2 June 1896, i.e., within a few weeks of arriving in England (he was now just 22) he filed with the British Patent Office a provisional patent specification (the first of many) to safeguard his commercial interests in wireless communication. The third striking fact is that just one year later, in the summer of 1897, at the age of 23 he and his friends formed the Wireless Telegraph and Signal Company Limited (soon to be renamed the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company) with an initial capital of £100,000. The shares in the new company were quickly subscribed; Marconi himself received £15,000 in cash and also held a large number of the shares.