“It’s of no use whatsoever…” LESS ACCURATE WORDS WERE NEVER SPOKEN!

James Clerk Maxwell

Wireless communications started with just the belief

Michael Faraday

that electromagnetic fields existed as result of the reversing or oscillating currents. James Clark Maxwell and Michael Faraday predicted the existence of electromagnetic fields as result of the reversing or oscillating currents but it was Heinrich Rudolf Hertz who was finally able to prove it.

Heinrich Rudolf Hertz with schematic of his transmitter and receiver which was just a loop of wire with a gap that sparked.

In 1888 Mr. Hertz was able to prove Maxwell’s and Faraday’s predictions by building a spark gap transmitter and a receiver which consisted of a single loop of wire with a spark gap on each end of the loop. This was placed in a dark box so as to make the spark more visible.

Hertz was fascinated with the phenomenon but did not see any practical use for it. When asked about the practical use of his findings he said, “It’s of no use whatsoever[…] this is just an experiment that proves Maestro Maxwell was right – we just have these mysterious electromagnetic waves that we cannot see with the naked eye. But they are there.” Again when asked what the ramifications of his experiment were he simply replied, “Nothing, I guess.” It took  to come up with a practical use for these waves by building the wireless telegraph in the summer of 1895. So it was just 7 years after Hertz said, “It’s of no use whatsoever…” that the

Samuel Morse

whole wireless communications, probably one of the influential inventions on our world today, came into existence.

All Marconi did was put together the invention by Samuel Morse and the discoveries by Heinrich Hertz to build his first wireless system. Hertz had built

Guglielmo Marchoni

a transmitter and though Hertz did technically build the first receiver it was Alexander Stepanovich Popov, in 1894, who built the first coherer receiver like the one used by Marconi. So all Marconi did was just bring together the work of others into a practical usable

Alexander Stepanovich Popov

item. But then that is what most great inventions are.

Hertz was the first to use the term wireless in reference to radio waves. Marconi picked up on this word and called his invention wireless telegraph which was the accepted term for many years. It was usually shortened to just wireless. Edouard Branly coined the word radio in 1897 from the Latin word “radius” which means “spoke of a wheel, beam of light, ray.”

Edouard Branly

The word radio appeared in an article by Lee de Forest in 1907, and it was adopted by the United States Navy in 1912 . For the most part the word wireless remained common but was almost entirely dropped when the first commercial broadcasts ware aired in the united States in the 1920s. It is

Lee de Forest

interesting to see how with the advent of cell phones the word wireless has come back.

Those were but a few of the men and their ideas that started this massive industry we know as radio.  And to think the man who really started it said, “It’s of no use whatsoever…”

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2 Responses to “It’s of no use whatsoever…” LESS ACCURATE WORDS WERE NEVER SPOKEN!

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