A brief history of wireless technology

By C.J. Mathias, Farpoint Group |  Mobile & Wireless

Now, who exactly should get the credit for the radio is still a subject of debate. Many believe it was in fact Nikola Tesla who first sent information through the air. However, I've never seen evidence that Tesla really communicated something of value - he just moved energy between two points without wire, demonstrating electromagnetic induction. The credit for the radio itself belongs, I think, to Guglielmo Marconi, who in 1895 sent a radio telegraph transmission across the English Channel, and in 1901 a transmission across the Atlantic. Public use of radio began in 1907. By the way, no physical unit was named for Marconi, but he did win the Nobel Prize in 1909 - not bad for a self-taught inventor!

There have been so many great contributions since then, from Edwin Armstrong (who created FM radio, among others), to Lee De Forest (who invented the electron tube), and Andrew Viterbi (who came up with digital decoding and CDMA) - and so many more that we can't list them all here. There are now more people working in wireless communications than at any other time in history. So as the computer industry suffers, to some degree, from the pains of maturity, wireless shows no such trend towards slowing down.

"If I have seen further it is by standing on ye shoulders of Giants," Isaac Newton wrote that in a famous letter of his to Robert Hooke, the great English scientist and inventor. Today, after well over 200 years, we continue to build on the work of an amazing number of inspiring people who were fascinated with the concept of communication through the air. And the innovations, as regular readers of this column can attest, continue at a remarkable pace.

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