Guglielmo Marconi, “the magician of space”

120 years ago the first international radio-telegraphic communication

“Since 1895, at the beginning of my first experiments, I had the strong intuition, I would almost say the clear and sure vision, that the radio-telegraphic transmissions would have been possible through the greatest distances”. These textual words attest to how Guglielmo was aware of having made an important discovery in the history of communications, achieving the most extraordinary revolution since the time of the Gutenberg press. Born in 1874, very young he reads the Life of Benjamin Frankiln and from there began his first experiments in the field of electricity. At only twenty-three years in England he made a wireless connection between two devices located five kilometers away from each other. But at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, in a short time, his signal crossed the English Channel and then even the Atlantic. Marconi sent the world out of the silence. He designed and invented dozens of devices, collaborated with the Italian and English Navy. In 1900 he also solved the problem of confidentiality and independence of communications thanks to the famous patent 7777 concerning the tuning of the transmitting and receiving circuits. And so, in the early twentieth century his fame is already global and his wireless invention literally went around the world. It is no coincidence that Gabriele D’Annunzio called him “magician of space”. The greatest impact that his application had on the collective imagination was the possibility of embarking on a sea voyage knowing that the ship could now be communicated: this meant salvation for many people. Perhaps because of this in 1912 he was invited to sail for the inaugural voyage of a luxury liner, but Marconi declined for work commitments. And it was a great fortune for him! That ship was the Titanic. On the night of April 14, 1912, the telegraphists scrambled to the last to launch the message of SOS, which was intercepted by the Carpathia, equipped with a telegraph – which at the time was not obvious – allowing to save the 706 survivors. Wanting to circumscribe at a specific date the precise moment of his discoveries, this would be March 27, 1899 when he established the first international radio-telegraphic communication: it happened through the Channel between the station of South Foreland, near Dover in England, and that of Vimereux , a town on the French coast near Boulogne sur Mer, the place where his parents were married 35 years earlier. For the first time a message transmitted by wireless telegraphy joined two states. The signal arrived loud and clear at a distance of 130 kilometers. All this happened exactly one hundred and twenty years ago, when the radio was still no voice, it was not music, it was not information and it was not in all the cars, offices and houses of the world. Ah … it was always in March, but in 1983, when the first wireless telephone was sold: a Motorola DynaTAC 8000x, nicknamed “the brick”.