SOME OF THE EARLY PIONEERS THAT PAVED THE ROAD TO HAM RADIO AS WE KNOW IT.

Nikola Tesla

Guglielmo Marconi is usually credited with inventing the radio but on June 21,1943 Nikola Tesla was credited with being the first person to patent radio technology. This was just over 6 months after Tesla’s death on January 7, 1943. Marconi’s patent number was 763772 and Tesla’s patent number was 645576 thus Telsa’s patent was 118196 patents ahead of Marconi’s and there was no difference between the two patents in any point. Some believe Tesla patent an idea and wrote it in a science journal and Marconi read it and built Tesla’s idea.

Radio is a form of electronic communications and to get to where we are today we need to go back and look at several who were contributes to our past time and passion. Some many probably never even connected with ham radio. Lets consider just a few.

Samuel Morse is credited with inventing the telegraph but like most inventions,

Samuel Morse

including the radio, he built upon the inventions of others.

William Sturgeon

William Sturgeon, a British experimenter with electricity, invented the electromagnet in 1825.  His first electromagnet was a loosely wrapped coil of wires wound around a horseshoe-shaped piece of iron. By energizing the coil with a single cell battery he was able to pick up nine pounds using a seven-ounce piece of iron.  Sturgeon’s invention laid the foundation upon which Morse could build.

1830, just five years later, an American inventor named

Joseph Henry

constructed an electromagnet that that was able to activate an armature.  A battery was placed at one end of over a mile run of wire and the magnet with armature was placed at the other.  When the circuit was completed the armature struck bell.  Some credit this as being the first telegraph but it did not have a language with which to communicate complex messages.  Where calling it the first telegraph may be a stretch it can not be denied that it was a significant step forward to what would become a vast electronic communication system that would link the World within the next few decades.

The means of using the electromagnet to communicate required a system or code by which letters could be transmitted.  Morse conceived the idea of using electromagnet to accomplish this.  He constructed an experimental version in 1835 but it was not until 1844 before he was able to construct a truly practical system running lines between Baltimore and Washington, D.C.  A patent was granted 1849.  The system Morse patented used a pencil to mark dots and

Telegraph Recorder

dashes on a strip of paper then it was read later.  Operators in the United States soon learned they could read the clicks as the system was actuated.  A straight key and sounder was soon added to the mix and messages started moving at the speed of 40 to 50 words per minute across the wires.

The code the telegraphers used was American Morse and, though American Morse is legal on the ham band, the International Morse has become the standard.

It is interesting note that Morse’s first concept of electric communications was to use an electric spark to burn the paper.  Think of the possibilities that could

1844 Telegraph Key

have come from that.

The wireless communication device that Marconi used in the summer of 1895 used a spark-gap transmitter and a coherer detector for a receiver. The signal was transmitted over a few hundred yards. Marconi also used a pencil and a roll of paper to record the transmitted signal.

Who knows, if Morse had used a spark to mark the paper it might have been noticed by someone that a signal was sent and the radio may have come

Coherer Detector

decades earlier.  It is just an interesting thought.

The devices were rather easy to construct and thus many more joined into the experiments.  A group of experimenters called Amateur radio operators and later ham radio operators were the main developers of the radio industry.

Not only are ham radio operators the main developers of the science of radio but they are responsible for saving more lives then we would be able to estimate.  Hams have done much to promote good will between nations.  It is exciting and it is fun.

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