Ham Radio & Canada: Marconi in Newfoundland and Canada: Marine Radio in the Atlantic Part 4

Marconi rapidly progressed in technology in 1901. The contract he had with Lloyd’s, his close association with Britain during a time where imperial sentiment was strong in Canada, and it all without a doubt made a positive impression on the Canadian government who encouraged their officials to look at the Marconi company in favour.

Canadian Flag

Marconi then made a decision to attempt to transmit and
receive radio signals across the Atlantic, a move which, if he was successful, would expand the scope of marine radio communications on the primary
shipping routes between Canada and its major trading partners.

Marconi’s goals and the interests of the Canadian government were similar to a certain extent and was not entirely coincidental.
Marconi knew that the marine market was potentially very large and as yet only partially developed and he knew that the immediate commercial viability of his company depended on its ongoing development.

Marconi was aware that development could best be accomplished by
taking on new and greater challenges which would
not only attract the attention of governments and
other potential supporters or customers, but would
provide a more demanding testing ground for his equipment.

Scheme to Span the Atlantic

The scheme to span the Atlantic met the criteria and had the extra advantage of being widely dismissed as impossible which made it much more attractive to Marconi. So, by attempting transatlantic radio communication. Marconi was consciously appealing to governments like the British and, through it, the Canadian which he knew would have an interest in better communication on the North Atlantic for imperial and strategic as well as commercial reasons.

December 12, 1901

On December 12, 1901, history was made when Marconi had stated that he had received a number of scratchy clicks on his telegraphy receiving equipment set up on Signal Hill on the coast of Newfoundland. The morse code clicks were sent through the air without wires. The unique part is that the signal had been broadcast across the Atlantic Ocean from Poldhu in Cornwall, England which is over 3,000 kilometers away.

The repeated sending of the Morse code signal for the letter “S” was the first wireless trans-Atlantic signal.

Detractors had said such wireless signals could not travel more than a few hundred kilometres due to the curvature of the Earth, whereas Marconi believed they would.

Edward Rogers

In 1925, Edward Rogers (Sr) invented another radio breakthrough. He took an American idea and improved it. Rogers created a vacuum tube that enabled operating radios on household electric current, which eliminated the heavy and messy batteries that were required. His invention improved technology within radio broadcasting and it lead to the simplicity of radio operations that we know today.



Babaian, S. A. (1992). Radio communication in Canada : A historical and technological survey. Ottawa, Canada: National Museum of Science and Technology (Canada). doi:https://documents.techno-science.ca/documents/Transformation1RadioCommunicationinCanada1992.pdf