Guglielmo Marconi

Gugliemo Marconi – 1896


The main achievements of  his life and of the scientific and experimental activities of Guglielmo Marconi; the man who ushered in the modern Wireless universe in which we all live.

Guglielmo Marconi is comparable to the mysterious and vital centre of an immense galaxy from which infinite systems of bodies in continuous motion radiate and live together.

Guglielmo Marconi represents the uninterrupted progression of human research in its journey from the past to the future of modern civilization.

The Marconi Magic Box Project, was created for the centenary of the Nobel Prize for Physics awarded to the scientist, from Bologna (Stockholm, 10 December 1909).

A brief summary of  Guglielmo Marconi’s life and work, appears below.

Guglielmo Marconi (1874, Bologna; 1937, Roma)

Biographical outline, notes on his scientific and technical activities

1874, April 25

 Guglielmo Marconi was born in Bologna; his father was Giuseppe Marconi and his mother, Annie Jameson, was a young Irish Protestant. His mother grew him as a Protestant Christian, teaching him the English language. In a second phase of his life, Guglielmo Marconi was converted to Catholicism.


Guglielmo Marconi did not accomplished regular studies and did not attend the university. He received his education privately at Bologna, Florence and Livorno. The privileged place for his early experiments remains the famous “bug room” at the family estate in today Sasso Marconi. Among his “guardians”, Vincenzo Rosa and Augusto Righi are particularly reported. Especially, Augusto Righi – a scientist and university professor – was publicly thanked and praised by Marconi for his contribution to his education and scientific activity, introducing him almost as “mentor”.


Righi and his laboratory


 Marconi built his first laboratory to perform experiments on the propagation of electric waves. His family, contrary to some rumours – complained by the very Marconi – endorsed and actively and economically supported the efforts of the young scientist.

1895, September

The historical experiment “of Celestini” (from the name of the hill) was made; Guglielmo Marconi sent a radio signal at a distance of about 1700 meters; the brother and the bailiff, listening with the receiver, signalled the acknowledge receipt of the signal with a shot.
Guglielmo Marconi moved to England, helped by his knowledge of the language but also spurred – most likely – by his enterpreurial spirit: Marconi realized that England, at the turn of the nineteenth century, was the financial and economic capital of the Planet.

1897, July 2

 Guglielmo Marconi received his first patent for the system of wireless telegraphy –British Patent No. 12. 039 Improvements in Transmitting Electrical Impulses and Signals, and in Apparatus therefore, applied on June 2, 1896 – opened in fact, the Wireless Universe and its career as an entrepreneur of Communications.

 Patent of 1897 – Diagrams


In this important year, Gugliemo Marconi also founded the company “The Wireless Telegraph & Signal Company Limited”, later renamed “Marconi’s Telegraph Company Limited” (1900), in Chelmsford (Essex, England) and made demonstrative transmissions for the Italian government in Rome and La Spezia, coming to transmit signals to a distance of about 30 km.

1898, July

 Guglielmo Marconi followed the Sailing Ragattas of Dublin on board a ship and sent the news in real time to the Dublin’s Daily Express, which managed to publish the results before the boats’ return.


Two British ships equipped with Marconi’s  radiotelegraphic appliances, exchanged radio signals from 140 Km away.

1898, August

 Marconi was commissioned by the Queen Victoria to maintain her residence in the Isle of Wight in connection with the royal yacht cruising in the Channel, on which was the Prince of Wales, injured a leg: in 16 days 150 messages were sent.

1898, Autumn

 Guglielmo Marconi duplicated the experiment of sport “commentary” in the United States, that made him very popular.


Guglielmo Marconi ottiene il famoso brevetto 7777 (tuned or syntonic telegraphy) legato al sistema che permette di assegnare determinate frequenze a diverse stazioni radio.

 Patent 7777 – Patent and Transmitter

1901, December 12

 After successfully transmitted signals from the Island of Wight to the tip of Cornwall (approximately 300 km), Gugliemo Marconi made a transatlantic link of nearly 3400 km, between Poldhu (Cornwall, UK) and St. John’s Newfoundland (Canada), showing empirically that the earth curvature does not affect radio transmissions.


Marconi performed experiments with the detector equipment aboard the armoured cruiser Carlo Alberto, placed at his disposal by the Italian government; the same year he patented the “magnetic detector”, a step towards the “fine tuning” radio.


Conducting experiments aboard the U.S. liner Philadelphia, Guglielmo Marconi first demonstrated the “daylight effect” on radio, until then only theorized by the scientific world, thus contributing to research in different fields.

1903, January 18

 Marconi opened the station of Cape Cod, near Boston, with a radio telegram of President Thodore Roosevelt to S.M. King Edward VII of England.

1903, September

During the voyage from England to the United States on board the liner “Lucanian”, Marconi provided the first Press Service between Europe and United States: it began the regular publication of newspapers on board ships crossing the Atlantic Ocean.


Guglielmo Marconi received the honorary degree by the University of Bologna. At the end of his long life and scientific activity, Guglielmo Marconi would have achieved 16 honorary degree from prestigious universities around the world.


The “Daily Telegraph” for the first time received meteorological information by means of wireless. It was the dawn of the meteorological service in real time that today helps to save a large number of human lives and production activities.


Guglielmo Marconi married to Beatrice O’Brien, a Scottish noble, with whom he had four children. The marriage was celebrated with Protestant Christian rite.


First regular radio transmission between Poldhu and Cape Cod.


Guglielmo Marconi established the first radiotelegraph intercontinental service between Europe and United States with an exchange of official messages between the King of England and the Governor of Canada.


The “Marconi’s Wireless Co.” opened to the public the service for the transmission of radio telegrams between the United Kingdom and Canada: the Commercial Application of Wireless was born.

1909, January

The general public was impressed by the providential and essential contribution of the Marconi wireless telegraph in the rescue of more than 2,000 survivors of the steamer Republic sinking, collided with the Italian steamer Florida.


The Republic

1909, December 10

Guglielmo Marconi, along with Ferdinand Braun, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics for the following reason:

«in recognition of their contributions to the development of wireless telegraphy»

1910, April

First regular communication between Australia and New Zealand.

1911, February

The ruling in favour of the Marconi Company was issued in the case brought against the “British Radiotelegraph and Telephone Com” for the infringement of patent No. 7777 of 1900. The court decides in favour of the Marconi Company recognizing the validity of his patent: The Worldwide Markets opened to communications.


The radiotelegraphic station in Coltano (Pisa), which would have linked the stations of Ireland, Canada and Massawa was inaugurated in the presence of the King of Italy.

1912, April 15

The transatlantic Titanic sinked. Over 1,000 passengers died, while 700 survivors were rescued by the steamers “Carpathia” and “Olympic”, rushed  for the request for assistance launched by the Titanic radio operator. In New York, the public opinion tributes hero and salvator’s honours to Guglielmo Marconi.

Titanic’s radiotelegraphic Cabin

1912, September

Marconi lost an eye, as a consequence of a car accident near La Spezia.

1914, March

Marconi ran experiments with radio telegraphy apparatus valves in the port of Augusta and he obtained decisive results with radio-telephony on the ship “Regina Elena”.

1914, December

Guglielmo Marconi was elected Senator of the Kingdom of Italy and Knight Grand Cross.


World War I broke out and Guglielmo Marconi volunteered. He was awarded the rank of First Lieutenant of Engineers, but he was then transferred to the dependencies and orders of the Navy.


Guglielmo Marconi offered its contribution to the war effort by assisting the installation of Marconi radio equipment on board ships and – for the first time – planes. Following several incidents during the war in the use of long-wave radio systems, Marconi began the construction of the first short-wave devices in Genoa: This opened a vast horizon in the development of Radio. Here came the creation of the new-wave beam that could solve the problem of multiple and current services at very great distances.

1919, February

Guglielmo Marconi bought the yacht “Rowenska” – luxury boat that had already belonged to Archduke of Austria – renaming it ELECTRA and transforming it into its personal floating laboratory.


Marconi in Elettra’s Radio Lab

1919, June

Guglielmo Marconi was appointed Plenipotentiary for the Italian delegation to the Versailles Peace Conference.


1919, June 3

His mother, Annie Jameson, died in London.


1919, June 8

A. Righi, Guglielmo Marconi’s tutor, died in Bologna.


1919, June 15

Marconi Chelmsford station transmitted its First Radio Concert Show and it was received up to 2000 miles away.


1922, June 20

At a conference in New York, Marconi first talked about broadcast on shortwave, as a done deal. On the same occasion, he predicted, based on a series of tests already made, the Radiocalization, that is the future RADAR.


1923, June/July

Guglielmo Marconi took a long cruise in the Atlantic Ocean on board the Elettra, carrying out major trials of the short-wave beam system; Marconi went to the island of Cape Verde, remaining in constant contact with the experimental station Poldhu. Marconi announced that only by using short-wave can be rationally and economically solved the problem of radio communications over long distances. From this memorable cruise came a new trend for the radio technology: the expensive long-wave transmitters were left to be replaced by those short-wave, that were cheaper.


1924, May 30

First regular human voice broadcast between England (Poldhu) and Australia (Sidney).


1924, June

The Marconi’s Telegraph Company Limited ensured an agreement with the British government for the radiotelegraphic link between London and the Commonwealth and colonial territories. In the same year Guglielmo Marconi successfully achieved the first connection between England and Australia.


1924, October

The Italian government granted permission to the “Italian Union Radio” company belonging to Gugliemo Marconi, to start the radio broadcast nationwide service.


1926 – October 21

Inauguration of the first branch of the imperial radiotelegraphy network, with the service between England and Canada.



Inauguration of the 2nd branch of the imperial network between England and Australia, then between England and India.

1927, June 15

Having obtained a divorce from his first wife, Marconi married (in a Catholic ceremony) the Roman Countess Maria Cristina Bezzi Scali.

1928, January 1

On 1 January Marconi was appointed Chairman of the National Research Council (CNR), and took office on February 2 with a ceremony at the Capitol in the presence of the Head of Government.

1928, Spring

The public opinion was concerned about the tragic mishap of the airship Italy, commanded by Colonel Umberto Nobile. The survivors – also known as “of the Red Tent” – were rescued thanks to the radio telegrams carried out with a small shortwave radio supplied on board. From this point on, it began to equip all aircraft (planes and ships) designed to travel long distances with shortwave radio.

1929, June 17

Marconi was awarded the hereditary title of Marquis by the King of Italy.

1930, March 26

From the radio cabin of his yacht Electra, Guglielmo Marconi via radio turns on the lights of the world exhibition in Sydney, Australia (over 22000 km), of the Town Hall in Sydney, and – in turn – all over city, sending in the same occasion a greetings broadcast to the public in Australia.

1930, September 19

Marconi was appointed President of the Royal Academy of Italy.

1931, February 12

Pope Pius XI inaugurated the radio station of Vatican City, made personally by Guglielmo Marconi. Pius XI addressed by means of radio, a message to all the peoples of the world. Marconi was appointed Pontifical Academy. The first public radio station in the world was born.

1931, October 12

Marconi lighted the statue of the Redeemer on Corcovado mountain in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) from Rome. The ignition was controlled from the living room of his house in Via Condotti, in Rome: he lowered a button, triggered a switch of the Coltano radio station. The waves propagated from the antenna, and one fortieth of a second, they crossed the 8,000 km away and come to Rio: a dazzling light in a moment illuminated the statue of the Redeemer. Marconi said, “well, perfect lighting, lux et facta est”.

1931, October/November

Marconi provided the first demonstrations of the characteristics of microwave, communicating between S. Margherita Ligure and Sestri Levante. Levanto was annexed to the Grand Priory of Rome of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.

1932, May

Stable radiotelegraphy connection between Vatican City and the residence of Castel Gandolfo.

1933, August 2-5

Marconi carried out the connection between St. radiotelegraph Margherita Ligure and the Elettra Ship in the sea. At the time, from the terrace of the Hotel Miramare S. Margaret for the first time ran the radiotelegraphic signals transmission via microwave.

1933, September/October

Marconi began a journey around the world with his wife Christina on the steamer “Conte di Savoia”. First stop: the United States. Among the most significant events is that of Marconi’s day. In his trip Marconi went to Japan, Korea, China and India.

1934, May 5

Honorary degree in physics conferred to Marconi from the University of Bologna.

1934, Summer

Guglielmo Marconi offre una sensazionale dimostrazione delle potenzialità della radiotelemetria, guidando una Eletra “accecata” (senza bussola e senza visibilità) nel porto di Sestri Levante, impiegando solo un radiofaro a microonde di sua concezione.


Marconi resumed his studies of determination working with increasingly shorter waves in Torre Chiaruccia, near Civitavecchia. Already at that time, Marconi was in connection with major astronomic observatories to be informed of solar activity: he had in fact already found the influence of sunspots on the short-wave broadcasts.

1934, October 28

Marconi held a radiotelephony conference in studies of IEE with the President of the “Radio Corporation” of New York, David Sarnoff, on the occasion of the inauguration of broadcasting in the United States.


Guglielmo Maconi made some significant studies on the reflection of microwaves in Rome on the Via Aurelia. From these contributions (and those of other scientists like Christian Hülsmeyer and Nikola Tesla) the British were able to realize the radar.

1937, July 20

Guglielmo Marconi died in Rome, at his home in Via Condotti.


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