“Word is Flashed from Roosevelt to King Edward” headlines The Evening World on January 19, 1903. Guglielmo Marconi and his crew successfully send the first transatlantic radio transmission from the US (accomplished a month earlier from Canada). Marconi, who has been experimenting since the 1890s, shares the 1909 Nobel Prize in Physics for “contributions to the development of wireless telegraphy.” Marconi radio operators aboard ships send out routine messages and distress signals via Morse code…including from the Titanic. Read more about it!
The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.
The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.
|1896-1897||Guglielmo Marconi moves from Italy to England where he gains support for his wireless telegraph experiments, including sending first wireless communication over open sea.|
|October 1899||Marconi comes to US to cover America's Cup races in transmissions done aboard SS Ponce.|
|November 1899||Articles of incorporation are filed in NJ for the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of America.|
|1899-1901||Marconi continues development of wireless telegraphy (Morse code transmitted by radio waves).|
|November 1901||Marconi’s patents are challenged.|
|December 1901||Marconi announces successful wireless signal transmission across Atlantic. His claim is met with some skepticism.|
|February 1902||To provide better proof, Marconi records signals sent from Cornwall, England while on board SS Philadelphia sailing west from Great Britain.|
|December 17, 1902||First transatlantic radio message is sent from the Marconi station in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, Canada.|
|January 19, 1903||Marconi in Cape Cod, MA, successfully sends transatlantic radio message from President Theodore Roosevelt to King Edward.|
|January 23, 1909||Two ships, Republic and Florida, collide. Marconi radio operator sends out Morse code distress signals and everyone is rescued, except those few who died from the collision.|
|December 1909||Marconi shares Nobel Prize in Physics with Karl Braun for their contributions to development of wireless telegraphy.|
|April-June1912||Marconi radio operators aboard Titanic make contact with the Carpathia, the ship that rescues survivors. One operator goes down with the ship. Marconi testifies regarding radio contact during the disaster.|
|May 1918||Marconi is awarded Franklin Institute's Franklin Medal.|
|1918-1922||Marconi continues experiments and expresses interest in communication with other planets.|