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Wireless Networking Communications Hardware Science

Broadcast Radio Turns 100 109

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the century-of-dialing-in dept.
GraWil writes "On Christmas eve 1906, a Canadian physicist named Reginald Fessenden presented the world's first wireless radio broadcast from his transmitter at Brant Rock, MA. The transmission included Christmas music and was heard by radio operators on board US Navy and United Fruit Company ships equipped with Fessenden's wireless receivers at various distances over the South and North Atlantic, and in the West Indies. Fessenden was a key rival of Marconi in the early 1900s who, using morse-code, succeeded in passing signals across the Atlantic in 1901. Fessenden's work was the first real departure from Marconi's damped-wave-coherer system for telegraphy and represent the first pioneering steps toward radio communications and radio broadcasting. He later became embroiled in a long-running legal dispute over the control of his radio-related patents, which were eventually acquired by RCA."
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Broadcast Radio Turns 100

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    • Re:Super heterodyne? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 23, 2006 @10:28AM (#17347874)
      KDKA started broadcasting on November 2, 1920 as the first commercial radio station in the United States. It also claims to be the first radio station broadcasting on a regular schedule. That claim is complicated by the fact that radio prior to 1920 was mostly experimental and good records are not kept for all "experimental" signals of contesting stations. Further, another radio station in North America, XWA-AM in Montréal, Québec, Canada (renamed CFCF-AM on November 4, 1920), began its commercial, regular broadcast programming schedule on May 20, 1920 -- nearly six months before KDKA aired its first regularly scheduled broadcast.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KDKA_(AM) [wikipedia.org]

      I remember listening to school closings and football/baseball games on there growing up. On a good night, 600 miles away, I can still listen to them.
      • Re:Super heterodyne? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Jeremy Erwin (2054) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @10:45AM (#17347920) Journal
        kdka is a "clear channel" station. Such stations are allowed to increase their power at night, and the signal is refracted by the ionosphere. Note that this has nothing to do with Clear Channel Communications.
        • Re:Super heterodyne? (Score:5, Informative)

          by w9wi (162482) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @11:07AM (#17348020)
          kdka is a "clear channel" station. Such stations are allowed to increase their power at night, and the signal is refracted by the ionosphere.


          "clear channel" stations are not allowed to increase power at night. While I haven't specifically mined the FCC database, I can say with considerable confidence that there are fewer than ten AM stations in North America that run more power at night than during the day.

          However, "clear channel" stations are not required to *reduce* power at night. Most other stations are, and/or are required to switch to a directional antenna that concentrates all their power in a specific direction.

          Technically, "clear channel" refers to the frequency, not to any specific station. For example, 720KHz is a "clear channel", and in theory any station operating on that frequency could call itself a "clear channel" station. Many do.

          "clear channel" stations are divided into three classes, A, B, and D. Only one Class A station can exist on a frequency, and that's the dominant station most people think of when they think of a "clear channel" station. This station is allowed to operate 50,000 watts non-directional day & night, and is not required to protect any other station from interference. All other stations on the frequency must protect the Class A station.

          For example, on 720KHz, WGN in Chicago is the Class A station. KDWN in Las Vegas is one of several Class B stations on 720; KDWN runs 50,000 watts 24/7, but is required to switch to a directional antenna at night, limiting the amount of power radiated in the direction of Chicago to maybe two or three dozen watts. (I think you can reasonably assume the KDWN transmitter is northeast of Las Vegas!).

          Class D stations are those that are not allowed to operate at all at night, or are limited to nighttime powers less than that required for a new station. (generally, less than 250 watts; sometimes as little as one watt. No new Class D stations are being authorized.) An example of a Class D station on 720 is WGCR in western North Carolina, which goes off the air completely at sundown to protect WGN from interference.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Phoobarnvaz (1030274)
            Class D stations are those that are not allowed to operate at all at night, or are limited to nighttime powers less than that required for a new station. (generally, less than 250 watts; sometimes as little as one watt. No new Class D stations are being authorized.) An example of a Class D station on 720 is WGCR in western North Carolina, which goes off the air completely at sundown to protect WGN from interference.

            Having previously worked at a daytime-only AM in Western Arizona for several years...coul
        • Mostly correct, but not quite. Such stations do not "power up" at night, they merely do not power down. The atmosphere does the work for them.

          KDKA is 50 kW ND Unlimited station, meaning it broadcasts at 50,000 watts, non-directional, 24-hours a day.
          • by drwho (4190)
            When I was a kid, I used to listen and catalog all the broadcast stations I could pick up, starting with AM and FM and eventually (when my parents bought me a shortwave receiver), shortwave as well.

            I recall that I was quite often able to pick up KDKA's Pittsburgh signal in Massachusetts. However, that is not the record distance on AM. Radio Moscow was a powerful pest of a signal, often wiping out everything at the bottom of the AM band. It was broadcast from Cuba. A couple of times I was able to pick up WHO
            • by w9wi (162482)
              Some people do still listen for distant stations - try these links:

              National Radio Club [nrcdxas.org]
              International Radio Club of America [ircaonline.org]
              My AM DX blog [blogspot.com]

              But you're right, the programming stinks. At sunset when I can't get the NPR station anymore, I only listen to AM at the top of the hour when someone might (or might not...) run the required station identification. Nothing else is worth listening to.

              I did once receive two British stations here in the Nashville area, transmitted direct from the UK.
      • by fyngyrz (762201) *

        KDKA started broadcasting on November 2, 1920 as the first commercial radio station in the United States.

        That is incorrect. The first commercial radio transmission (or broadcast -- all radio transmissions were broadcasts, point to point technology not being available) was sent in 1899, as a paid ship to shore transmission via morse code.

        It was sent from Lt. John Bell Blish [blish.org] (see bottom of linked web page for actual photo details of this, including the actual reception on paper tape) on board the S.S

      • by evilviper (135110)

        On a good night, 600 miles away, I can still listen to them.

        That's nothing...

        Every night 850KHz becomes an extremely strong signal around here... Absolutely no fading to speak of.

        850 is KOA in Denver, Colorado, and I'm outside of Los Angeles, CA. That's around 1000 miles, and it's still a stronger signal than any of the stations from Los Angeles, around 50 miles away.

        Broadcasting from the top of a mountain automatically gives you the tallest antenna, anywhere.

        • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

          by NateTech (50881)
          Ahh, but KOA doesn't broadcast from the top of a mountain at all. In fact, their tower is located slightly south and east of Centennial Airport in the southern suburbs of Denver. In fact, it's one of the prominent landmarks for finding the APA practice areas for pilots doing training work.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KOA_(AM) [wikipedia.org]

          The key to KOA's monster signal is two-fold:
          1. They're a 50KW ND station... 50,000W all day, every day. Standard AM Broadcast physics going on here... at night, the sun goes down and
      • by Tjeerd (976354)
        Perhaps it's interesting to know that in The Netherlands in 1919 (in The Hague) Hanso Schotanus Steringa Idzerda was the first person on the world broadcasting on a regularly basis. Don't know whether it's completely right, but anyhow I post it :) http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanso_Schotanus_%C3%A 0_Steringa_Idzerda [wikipedia.org]
  • by slughead (592713) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @10:26AM (#17347866) Homepage Journal
    I don't know about anyone else, but with satellite radio becoming more and more popular, both of the radio stations that I can stand to listen to here in Phoenix (KDKB and KSLX) have changed formats.

    The competition from these sat companies has lead to fewer commercials, a FAR more extensive playlist on LOCAL stations. KDKB has "deep cuts" where they take songs off popular albums that they never play on the radio. On weekends, KSLX plays ENTIRE ALBUMS *gasp*!

    Now that sat radio has changed everything, I hope they don't run these locals out of town; they're just starting to get good!

    As a side note, does anyone else who's taken physics see the issue with calling it "Satellite Radio" being as how it uses microwaves and not 'radio' waves?
    • by Nate B. (2907) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @10:47AM (#17347930) Homepage Journal
      Even microwaves are radio waves as it is a part of the electromagnetic spectrum--it is just much higher in frequency than the traditional broadcast bands. The same can be said of light which is also at a much higher frequency (shorter wavelength) of the electromagnetic spectrum.

      The advantage of the microwave region is that a signal can occupy a larger range of frequencies and the wavelength from the low to the high end of the bandwidth doesn't change much due to the inverse relationship of frequency and wavelength. Calling it "satellite radio" is not deceptive except that it is a completely digital stream and the receiver's tuner doesn't necessarily tune to a different frequency for each "channel".

    • by w9wi (162482) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @10:49AM (#17347944)
      ...does anyone else who's taken physics see the issue with calling it "Satellite Radio" being as how it uses microwaves and not 'radio' waves?


      Microwaves are a subset of radio waves - there's nothing wrong with calling it "satellite radio".

      The common usage of "Internet Radio" is the one that isn't technically correct, in most cases. (unless your 'Net connection is WiFi...)
    • I don't have a problem with it being called "satellite" radio because of any physics issues, but I do have a problem with it being called "satellite" radio when 95% of the time, the receiver is actually receiving the signal from a ground-based transmitter, at least in my area.
    • I am quite a few others can see little reason for paying for something I can get free. Pay radio seems like a RIAA dream.

      If anything the ability to take YOUR music with you will lead to less and less radio. Cars these days are being designed with MP3 players in mind and that to me is more important than satellite. Besides I still use the radio for local news, talk radio, and to hear new songs. A lot of songs I hear on top40, country, and rock stations, I later and go buy off of iTunes or similar. Somet
    • As a side note, does anyone else who's taken physics see the issue with calling it "Satellite Radio" being as how it uses microwaves and not 'radio' waves?

      The one I laugh at is "wireless cable" or "satellite cable" as in 'call your wireless cable provider.'

      • Or just calling things like MTV or HBO "networks" when they aren't television "networks" of any kind.
    • by batquux (323697)

      As a side note, does anyone else who's taken physics see the issue with calling it "Satellite Radio" being as how it uses microwaves and not 'radio' waves?
      No, but calling it XM is silly. AM = Amplitude Modulation, FM = Frequency Modulation, XM = Cool Marketing Scheme.
      • Ex-Motorolan (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dtmos (447842)
        The story in Boca Raton, Florida, location of the original engineering design team, was that "XM" stood for "Ex-Motorolan," since a very large fraction of the engineers and engineering management came from a Motorola plant in nearby Boynton Beach that had just gone through several rounds of layoffs. (The Motorola plant has since been closed, sold and razed, replaced with condominiums.)

        I'm pretty sure the story is apocryphal, but it's too good not to repeat.
  • The Wireless (Score:5, Informative)

    by Renegade Lisp (315687) * on Saturday December 23, 2006 @10:30AM (#17347880)

    What I find interesting about the history of "radio" is that the word itself wasn't coined until some ten or twenty years after the invention. People used to call it "the wireless" before that. The guy who made up the word "radio" was an advertising expert named Waldo Warren. The same guy was later given the task to create a brand name for some of the early inventions of R. Buckminster Fuller. He came up with the word "Dymaxion", simply by jotting together syllables of random words Fuller used all the time: Dynamic Maximum Tension.

    I like it that the word "radio" comes from the same heritage.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Nate B. (2907)
      Isn't it interesting that when people started experimenting with networking computers over radio that they rejuvenated "wireless" to describe networking without wires? Just as in the early days wireless was used to describe telegraphy without wires. What was old is new again.

      Did anyone else discover that any song that had "radio" in its title (Queen's Radio Ga-Ga) or discussed radio (Rush's Spirit of Radio) to be an instant personal favorite?

      • by Mononoke (88668)
        Did anyone else discover that any song that had "radio" in its title (Queen's Radio Ga-Ga) or discussed radio (Rush's Spirit of Radio) to be an instant personal favorite?
        From what I've heard over the years just mentioning radio in the title or mentioning radio DJs (positively) in the lyrics guarantees frequent airplay in most cases.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      the name "radio" comes from the same root as "radiation", i.e. something that propagates radialy from a common center. think on the radius of circle.
  • by Nate B. (2907) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @10:37AM (#17347894) Homepage Journal
    The ARRL [arrl.org] is sponsoring an on-the-air celebration [arrl.org] of the centennial of broadcasting. The Hello Radio [hello-radio.org] campaign has been celebrating the upcoming event throughout most of 2006.

    How many broadcasters will let this event go unremarked? That is sad indeed.

  • Birth of FM radio (Score:4, Interesting)

    by QuietLagoon (813062) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @10:44AM (#17347910)
    The Birthplace of FM Broadcasting [fybush.com], Alpine, N.J. [cscmgt.com]
  • Radio Music Box (Score:3, Interesting)

    by QuietLagoon (813062) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @10:58AM (#17347978)
    "Radio Music Box" Memo [earlyradiohistory.us], David Sarnoff, November, 1916/January, 1920(?):

    "I have in mind a plan of development which would make radio a 'household utility' in the same sense as the piano or phonograph. The idea is to bring music into the house by wireless.

    "While this has been tried in the past by wires, it has been a failure because wires do not lend themselves to this scheme. With radio, however, it would seem to be entirely feasible. For example--a radio telephone transmitter having a range of say 25 to 50 miles can be installed at a fixed point where instrumental or vocal music or both are produced. The problem of transmitting music has already been solved in principle and therefore all the receivers attuned to the transmitting wave length should be capable of receiving such music. The receiver can be designed in the form of a simple 'Radio Music Box' and arranged for several different wave lengths, which should be changeable with the throwing of a single switch or pressing of a single button.

    "The 'Radio Music Box' can be supplied with amplifying tubes and a loudspeaking telephone, all of which can be neatly mounted in one box. The box can be placed on a table in the parlor or living room, the switch set accordingly and the transmitted music received. There should be no difficulty in receiving music perfectly when transmitted within a radius of 25 to 50 miles. Within such a radius there reside hundreds of thousands of families; and as all can simultaneously receive from a single transmitter, there would be no question of obtaining sufficiently loud signals to make the performance enjoyable. The power of the transmitter can be made 5 k.w., if necessary, to cover even a short radius of 25 to 50 miles; thereby giving extra loud signals in the home if desired. The use of head telephones would be obviated by this method. The development of a small loop antenna to go with each 'Radio Music Box' would likewise solve the antennae problem.

    "The same principle can be extended to numerous other fields as, for example, receiving lectures at home which be made perfectly audible; also events of national importance can be simultaneously announced and received. Baseball scores can be transmitted in the air by the use of one set installed at the Polo Grounds. The same would be true of other cities. This proposition would be especially interesting to farmers and others living in outlying districts removed from cities. By the purchase of a 'Radio Music Box' they could enjoy concerts, lectures, music, recitals, etc., which may be going on in the nearest city within their radius. While I have indicated a few of the most probable fields of usefulness for such a device, yet there are numerous other fields to which the principle can be extended...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Nate B. (2907)
      I wonder if the the radio pioneers (Marconi, Fessenden, Sarnoff, et. al.) would be impressed or disappointed by the progress we've made in communications technology over the past century. I'm sure we can point to areas where advances could/should have been made sooner. The upcoming digital TV cutover date in just over two years is a prime example. Its adoption is being hindered by the inertia of a huge installed base of working analog TV sets.

      Will the second century of broadcasting bring as much change a
      • I think the radio pioneers would be very impressed with the technology progress, but would probably have significant second thoughts about the progress of the content.

        I also think the radio pioneers would be aghast of DRM, it runs counter to all they have worked for, i.e. the wide dissemination of content.

        • by westlake (615356)
          I think the radio pioneers would be very impressed with the technology progress, but would probably have significant second thoughts about the progress of the content.

          only in the sense that they could be too high-minded to appreciate popular music and entertainment. but Deadwood is a legitimate successor to radio's Gunsmoke.

          I also think the radio pioneers would be aghast of DRM, it runs counter to all they have worked for, i.e. the wide dissemination of content

          there are 40,000 or so DVDs in print at an

          • there are 40,000 or so DVDs in print at any moment.

            With most, if not all, subject to region coding and DRM to prevent fair use.

            150-200 channels of commercial sattelite radio.

            Also DRM'd.

            cable and sattelite TV

            Also DRM'd.

            there is iTunes

            DRM'd

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        >The upcoming digital TV cutover date in just over two years is a prime example.
        >Its adoption is being hindered by the inertia of a huge installed base
        >of working analog TV sets.

        Not so prime. The push of digital TV comes from the factors of cheap computing power, and $$$.

        Digital TV has been possible for a loooong time, but without compression, it would hog a tremendous amount of bandwidth. Digital compression fixes that, and makes it require less bandwidth than traditional analog. When the possi
        • by Teancum (67324)
          The issues of digital vs. analog transmission are far more complex than even what you are mentioning here.

          By far and away the worst issue I've seen of digital broadcast systems is that they have a strong tendency to "drop frames" at some of the worst possible moments. If something is garbled in the transmission at any point along the transmission path (from repeaters or whatever), the entire frame is dropped. Or more likely the previous frame is duplicated. This gives a very "choppy" image or perhaps eve
  • by bc90021 (43730) * <bc90021&bc90021,net> on Saturday December 23, 2006 @11:23AM (#17348066) Homepage
    Nikola Tesla demonstrated "wireless" communication (which became known as "radio") as early as 1893. In 1943, the Supreme Court declared that Tesla had invented the radio, not Marconi. I'm afraid this celebration is about thirteen years too late...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikola_Tesla [wikipedia.org]

    http://www.pbs.org/tesla/ll/ll_whoradio.html [pbs.org]

    A really good book to read to learn more about one of the greatest electrical engineers in history is "Man Out Of Time" by Margaret Cheney.
    • by Cyberax (705495)
      Actually, Marconi has not even invented the first coherer radio (though he did commercialize it). Popov (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Stepanovic h_Popov) did it first.
    • by farrellj (563)
      One might say that Marconi was the Microsoft of it's time...

      ttyl
    • by MikeFM (12491)
      I have that book. It's very interesting. To bad more about Tesla isn't properly recorded as he was so obviously one of the leading genuises of the previous couple centuries. He is the closest I have to a geek hero. His plan to wirelessly transmit power, for free, to people is just awesome and he planned a wireless world-wide communications network almost 100 years before the Internet.

      I'm glad, at least, that some scientists are finally remembering Tesla and working towards making wireless power transmission
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Nate B. (2907)
      You do understand that TFA is about radio broadcasting and not just about the invention of radio itself, right?

      This celebration is spot on since neither Tesla nor Marconi had anyone "listening" outside of their respective labs or work groups. Conversely, Fessenden did have an audience of listeners as documented by the various shipboard operators that did hear his broadcast. Fessenden's acheivement in no way dimishes the work of Tesla, Marconi, or others, rather he built upon their work and in turn broke n
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bc90021 (43730) *
        Yes, I understand... but it's a specious analogy to make. That's like saying that the radar wasn't really invented until there were planes for it to track, or the TV wasn't invented until there were a million households from which to gather ratings.

        Tesla was using "wireless" almost two decades before Marconi, et al. He used it to power unmanned submarines at the World's Fair in 1896. He used it to transmit electricity! To say that it was "invented" by others just because they had a few people listening
        • by westlake (615356)
          Yes, I understand... but it's a specious analogy to make

          Broadcating is the invention being celebrated here. Radio is the underlying technology.

          Tesla was using "wireless" almost two decades before Marconi, et al.

          Tesla draw the Geek into fantasies of what-might-have-been.

          Marconi made his wireless technology a part of everyday life and thought.

          • by bc90021 (43730) *
            "Broadcating" (sic) is not an invention. People do it all the time when they yell.

            Marconi was granted a patent on the radio, which was later reversed. Anyone who is familiar with the history of the time knows that while he may have done some good things, he was usurping the ideas of others whom he refused to acknowledge and one of whom rightly got his due from the US Supreme Court later.
            • by westlake (615356)
              "Broadcating" (sic) is not an invention. People do it all the time when they yell.

              You can yell as loud as you like ---but you won't be heard across half a continent --- the shared experience of millions of radio listeners in the twenties. Nothing in the world the like of it before.

        • by evilviper (135110)

          That's like saying that the radar wasn't really invented until there were planes for it to track, or the TV wasn't invented until there were a million households from which to gather ratings.

          Horrible analogies.

          In fact, YOU are the one (essentially) saying that radar and TV were invented by Tesla...

          Tesla did many things with radio waves, but he never transmitted audio, never set-up a public-broadcast radio station (which is the anniversy in question) etc.

          Those who discovered electricity aren't responsible fo

          • by punterjoe (743063)
            Actually, I think the (disputed) anniversary is of audio transmission via radio. Not radio broadcasting per se. Fessenden wasn't doing regular scheduled broadcasts at the time, he was just assembling the apparatus to do so and testing it out. I believe there is some dispute as to the 12/24/1906 event. It's been claimed there are no records of the transmission, logs of the reception, or any subsequent coverage in the press regarding the event at the time. It's also claimed that the incident wasn't even menti
  • One 'stream', many clients.... This one worked right out of the box!

    Multicast over modulated RF.

    Too bad about IP multicast, which was the next up-and-coming thing in 1993!
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @11:52AM (#17348184) Homepage Journal
    Nikola Tesla [wikipedia.org], ubergenius, invented radio over a decade before these demonstrations [wikipedia.org]. He even transmitted electric power by radio, to power light bulbs. And probably the robot submarine he also invented - all in the 1800s.

    What is it about Tesla that his pioneering inventions are usually ignored in favor of later copycats?
    • by Dunbal (464142)
      He even transmitted electric power by radio, to power light bulbs.

            I wouldn't want to stand between the transmitter and receiver ;)
      • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @01:39PM (#17348640) Homepage Journal
        Maybe not. Did you read how he did it?

        Tesla also demonstrated, in a famous demo, how he could grab the electrode while holding a bulb in his other hand, lighting the bulb brightly. Edison was trying to set up Tesla's AC technique to power NY state's new "electric chair" executions, to scare the public away from letting AC be chosen to carry Niagara Falls hydroelectic (generated by Tesla's generators) down to NYC. But Tesla's demo showed everyone that "AC is safe", and the rest is history.
      • by yusing (216625)
        It doesn't take much radio signal power to power a fluorescent light bulb.

        If you live in a city, you are constantly immersed in hundreds of powerful radio, television, cellphone (and dozens of other forms of) signals. Most of them operate on frequencies which, apparently, do you little if any harm. There are so many of them that it may, by now, be possible to light a small area by means of ambient EM radiation.
        • I would buy something like this, but I admit I don't know how to go about building something like this.
    • Beats me. He probably wasn't the marketing genius that Marconi was. (Marconi is to radio as Bill Gates is to computer operating systems of the late 21st century).

      Now, why don't you continue in the Tesla copy-cat tradition, and get rich selling wireless power? I have been trying to get my assistant to buy me a wireless power plug for my laptop, to go along with my wireless tube. That way, I will be able to check my email when backpacking through the remote wilderness, even after my battery dies.
      • by Doc Ruby (173196)
        I have invented a wireless power transmission system, but it's lossy (like all radio). Once I've gotten rich off this Internet telco, I'll roll out my lossless long-distance (wired) power transmission company. I hope to make up in wired distance efficiency what I can afford to lose in nearby lossy power, especially for low-power digital devices.

        As JP Morgan once apocryphally asked Tesla, after Tesla's pitch for funding wireless power: "OK, but where do you put the meter?"
    • by lawpoop (604919)
      My cynical guess is because he wanted to use his inventions to improve the life of the common man, instead of making himself and industry wealthy.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Doc Ruby (173196)
        From what I can tell, Tesla was mad to capitalize on his inventions. He patented many (hundreds) of them. But he trusted corporate industrialists of his day, robber barons like Westinghouse and Morgan, to take care of him like royal patrons would a court wizard. They ripped him off when he couldn't play their game as well as they.
    • by w9wi (162482)
      But Tesla didn't broadcast, did he? (at least not on purpose)

      There are multiple definitions of the "invention" of radio, depending on exactly what you consider "radio" and what you consider "invented". I don't know that it's even reasonable to say anyone invented radio -- noise bursts emitted from lightning strikes (and stars) long predate mankind, let alone any actions of human inventors. It might be more accurate to say radio was discovered, and I might suggest Heinrich Hertz was the one who discovered
      • by Doc Ruby (173196)
        As that article to which I linked noted, Tesla transmitted and received radio signals with informational content as late as 1895, over a decade before the 1906 demos this story celebrates. All radio is broadcast unless attenuated into a beam - Tesla's was no exception.

        FWIW, Westinghouse got all its tech, including radio, from Tesla's brain. The Westinghouse ripoff of Tesla is one of the main reasons Tesla isn't celebrated as inventor of so many of these extraordinary inventions.
    • James Clerk Maxwell discovered the natural laws that made building radio equipment feasible. This was the real original work. Hertz, Marconi, Tesla - they ALL did the same thing, apply Maxwell's work. None of them 'invented' radio, radio is a natural phenomena. What they did was to build apparatus that produced radio waves in a controlled manner using the principles laid out by Maxwell.

    • I love how all the "Tesla did it first" comments come out whenever there is a post about early electrical technology. Unsung genius? Yes, certainly. But not the only one. Why does Tesla get so much attention? Why is he, and not some other unsung genius, featured so prominently on these wierd "alternative science" websites, for example http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/tesla/esp_tesla_ a.htm [bibliotecapleyades.net] ? What is it about him or his work?
      Is it all the weird pictures of large inductors throwing sparks? It can't sim
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @12:24PM (#17348346) Homepage Journal
    In its early days, radio was a 2-way, peer-to-peer medium. It was instantaneous (zero latency), hifi (plus noise), and global. It could transmit pictures (by wiring it to a pantograph or fancier device). Everyone into the hobby thought it would become what we like to think the Internet is becoming today.

    But after a couple of decades, radio was reduced to a one-way, broadcast medium dominated by commercial corporate interests.

    The main way this shutdown was executed was by the new US agency, the "FCC". The early tech made necessary a central registry of unique frequencies assigned to "stations", or multiple stations would "interfere", or really just all be heard by a receiver tuned to that frequency. A signaling protocol for yielding could have avoided that centralized control. A transceiver attempting a frequency could have first listened to the frequency for a signal:noise ratio above some standardized threshold before using it as a clear channel, and group comms could have signalled with a "heartbeat" above the threshold of human hearing. Or some other approach either automatic or negotiated. But the US Federal government legislated instead of letting tech solve the real problem. Which also let them control the content of the public airwaves, eventually requiring broadcasters to be officially licensed as publishers. Which now costs $millions, forcing mere hobbyists out of the market.

    We can already see this same pattern repeating. Publishing streams of copyrighted material on the Net costs not only a ridiculous $0.0007 per "song" per listener (therefore 10K listeners costs $7, thousands of times more than broadcast, though the tech is cheaper). But the license requires a minimum $500 per year. Which is the cost of about 6 listeners continuously 24x7, to 4 minute average length songs. Or really more like 25 listeners, who'd have to pay $20 a year to listen (or $95 for each of 6) - just for the royalties. That minimum fee puts radio out of the reach of most hobbyists to even reach their friends. It forces streaming to go commercial. The first step towards the really expensive licenses that keep the official publishers in the same billionaire's club, with mostly the same agenda. Purely "political": controlling the people to ensure only rich commercial interests can publish.

    And that's all before video streaming is really regulated. They'll surely increase the license fee for that, and probably raise the audio fees "now that the industry has gotten on its feet".

    Who believes that "wireless networks", really just digital radio, will stay P2P, unregulated content, when the rest of the industry has the worst history of forcing regulations to define its limited competition? For those who do believe that, look at your radio dial. And, if you can stand it, try listening to it.
    • by multipartmixed (163409) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @01:31PM (#17348604) Homepage
      While the thrust of your post is interesting, insightful, and probably even valid, I must take issue with your misunderstanding of the requirements of radio around the early part of the last century.

      Back then, radios were big, expensive things that really didn't handle multiple frequencies well. Changing the radio transmitter's frequency, even by a bit, could literally involve swapping out parts, changing the length of the antenna, and so forth.

      Additionally, it would have been impossible for broadcast radio to become the medium it was without having fixed frequencies. How would listeners tune in? "Tune in tommorow, same time, at another random place in the radio spectrum!"

      Finally, I find it incredibly improbable that radio hobbyists 80 years ago had access to computers suitable for frequency negotiation and hand-off.

      No, regulation of the spectrum, at least to a degree, was and IS absolutely necessary.
    • by evilviper (135110)

      Publishing streams of copyrighted material on the Net costs not only a ridiculous $0.0007 per "song" per listener (therefore 10K listeners costs $7, thousands of times more than broadcast, though the tech is cheaper). But the license requires a minimum $500 per year.

      I can understand frustration with the fees for internet streaming, but equating copyright fees to FCC licenses is patently ridiculous.

      It doesn't matter what the media... YOU CAN'T JUST FREELY COPY OTHER PEOPLE'S WORKS.

      No matter what the fees ha

      • by Doc Ruby (173196)
        You don't get what I'm saying. I'm not talking about freely copying other people's works. I'm talking about a rate structure arbitrary and prohibitive to anyone but commercial publishers of existing work. Which is a completely legitimate way to work without being commercial, if it's small enough scale, especially in today's "remix culture". Even at the rate of $0.0007:listen, which was established by a completely unsupportable basis of the stock price of Broadcast.com purchased by Yahoo in stock, not cash,
        • by evilviper (135110)

          You don't get what I'm saying.

          Yes, I do.

          I'm talking about a rate structure arbitrary and prohibitive to anyone but commercial publishers of existing work.

          An FCC license is necessary to broadcast over the radio waves. It is not for internet streaming.

          Paying fees for copyrighted music is NOT required for internet (radio) streaming, because playing copyrighted material is not necessary.

          Fees for the medium != Fees for the content

          That's why your comparison is "patently ridiculous".

          • by Doc Ruby (173196)
            Prohibitive fees, whether for a spectrum license, minimum royalties or any other arbitrary basis that keeps publishing in the hands of "the club", is the barrier that favors "official publishers".

            I've now taught you enough, including manners, whether or not you've got the sense to learn it. Goodbye.
            • by evilviper (135110)
              Prohibitive fees, whether for a spectrum license, minimum royalties or any other arbitrary basis that keeps publishing in the hands of "the club", is the barrier that favors "official publishers".

              You can avoid those "minimum royalties" if you don't insist on publishing OTHER PEOPLE'S WORKS.

              Your willful ignorance of this simple fact is overwhelming.
          • by Teancum (67324)
            What you are missing here in this exchange is the ASCAP royalty structure that is supported and condoned by the U.S. Federal government.... the government interference here is the issue, not the expectation of royalties to be paid to performers and "authors" (read composers and songwriters here) of music.

            The courts have required that the means be established that royalties can be paid to these copyright holders at established industry rates. This is done through groups such as the MPAA (for motion pictures
            • by evilviper (135110)

              If you decide to stream some songs with the intention of trying to "stay legit" (if you don't care, that is another story) and paying royalties, the costs of doing so are prohibitive except for those who have some serious $$$ behind them.

              The internet remain free for anyone to use, which is vastly unlike the airwaves...

              This "government interference" can be completely circumvented by playing music that is not owned by RIAA/ASCAP. There isn't any similar way to circumvent the restrictions on setting-up your o

              • by Teancum (67324)

                The internet remain free for anyone to use, which is vastly unlike the airwaves...

                No, the internet is hardly free, nor free of government interference. Trying to obtain a block of IP addresses can cost a considerable sum of money, as can trying to register a domain name. The rationale for costs of either of these activities may be questionable, but it is there, together with bandwidth costs and other issues as well. Nor is internet activity free of criminal activity that could potentially land somebody (

  • Remember to keep all your good patents under the floorboards.
  • If you're ever going to Plymouth MA as a tourist, you can make a detour to visit the remains of the tower, it's only a short detour if you're headed there from Boston.

    If you look at the photo [wikipedia.org] on the Wikipedia, you'll see that there it is currently in a trailer park. My wife grew up spending every summer in that park and my mother-in-law still as a place there. The house that is visible in the post card is still there, as are some of the concrete anchor points for the tower's guy wires and a concrete slab t
    • by N1EY (817702)
      We will be there! The W1FRV club is having a special event tommorrow. I have operated only two weeks from the club station. Bill N1EY visit www.n1ey.com for some more information.
  • by drwho (4190) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @04:50PM (#17349574) Homepage Journal
    What is important is not that Fessenden broadcast a signal to ships at sea, but that he did it using an audio signal, i.e. music and speech. He invented radio telephony. Before Fessenden, radio was purely Marconi's radio telegraphy (morse code).

    Also, it is not entirely accurate calling Fessenden Canadian. He lived in the US at the time of this breakthrough, and would for some time, before moving to Bermuda. He can be said to be of 'Canadian origin'.

    I know much about Fessenden because of the house he had owned in Newton, Massachusetts during and after his Brant Rock experiments. After Fesseden's death, the house was sold to my mother's family, and she recalls that there was some strange laboratory equipment in the basement of that house, where she grew up. This house is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

    • "...it is not entirely accurate calling Fessenden Canadian."

      Do you have any evidence that he officially renounced his Canadian citizenship and became a citizen of either the U.S. or Bermuda? If not then it is entirely appropriate to call him Canadian. Canada is also where he was born, spent his formative years and where he received his early college training in both Ontario and Quebec. That pretty much adds up to him being Canadian. It doesn't matter where he lived and worked. You might want him to be
  • Let's not forget the programs Doc [jive95.com] broadcast in the Bay area in 1909 albeit these are now ham frequencies.
    See:Setting The Stage for KMPX & KSAN
  • By far, Fessenden's is the most interesting idea for Atlantis:

    The Deluged Civilization [radiocom.net]

    There is also some very good economics theory after the Deluge bit.
  • It's at http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediaselector/check/worldserv ice/meta/tx/discovery?nbram=1&nbwm=1&size=au&lang= en-ws&bgc=003399 [bbc.co.uk] (26 minute RealAudio stream). Or if that gobbledygook doesn't work, navigate to the World Service Discovery programme from http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/aod/worldservice_promo. shtml [bbc.co.uk].

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