The true inventor of radio, Canadian Reginald Aubrey Fessenden in his lab believed circa 1906

The true inventor of radio, Canadian Reginald Aubrey Fessenden in his lab believed circa 1906
Photo Credit: The Radio Scientist

History: Dec.23, 1900, the real father of radio


Everybody seems to know the name Marconi. They often think of him as the inventor who started the idea of radio.

While Marconi is often credited as being “the”, or at least, “a” father of radio, he was in fact experimenting with wireless telegraphy, not radio.

In fact, Marconi was never interested in transmitting voice and didn’t think it possible.

Nor is it even certain he actually heard the morse clicks from across the ocean amid the static on Dec 01, 1901. His spark technology meanwhile was also a dead end and he would abandon it in 1912.

At the same time, a Canadian working for the US Weather service, was developing actual radio technology,

Scene of part of the interior of the Brant Rock station.
Scene of part of the interior of the Brant Rock station. ©  radio scientist

Real radio broadcast one year before Marconi’s telegraph clicks

Reginald Fessenden knowing that Marconi’s technology was a dead end had been working on his own theory of wireless transmission called  amplitude modulation, what we would later know as AM radio.

It was on this day, December 23, 1900, a year before Marconi’s claimed telegraphy clicks, that he transmitted the very first wireless radio voice message to become the real “father” of radio.

Postcard circa 1910- the Brant Rock transmission tower 128 metres (420ft) tall
Postcard circa 1910- the Brant Rock transmission tower 128 metres (420ft) tall © wiki commons

He sent a message a distance of 1.6 kilometres between two 13-metre towers.  The first words ever transmitted were, “One Two Three Four — is it snowing where you are Mr. Thiessen? If it is, telegraph back to me”.

Thiessen quickly telegraphed back using Morse code that he heard Fessenden clearly and that it was snowing.

In 1987 Canada Post created this postage stamp to commemorate Reginald Fessenden, inventor of radio and hundreds of other inventions.
In 1987 Canada Post created this postage stamp to commemorate Reginald Fessenden, inventor of radio and hundreds of other inventions. © Canada Post

Continuing to perfect his technology, on Christmas eve 1906, he made the world’s first public broadcast.

From his station near Boston, ships at sea in the Atlantic and Caribbean outfitted with his recievers heard a female vocalist and Fessenden himself playing ‘O Holy Night’ on his violin. He also sings carols,and read passages from the Bible.

Fessenden is credited with over 500 patents and inventions from sonar, to television, to a fathometer to tracer bullets and many more. He died in 1932.

Additional information –sources

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One comment on “History: Dec.23, 1900, the real father of radio
  1. Peter Ashcroft says:

    Thanks for that interesting update